Movie Review: Jupiter Ascending

I knew only part of what I was getting myself into when a mutual friend and I made plans for Valentine’s Day to see this movie. We both admitted that we wanted to see it because of how allegedly bad it was. The best way to describe is Jupiter Ascending; interest plummeting.

A cleaning woman finds out that she’s some sort of space princess who has to save the Earth from being destroyed.

I admit that my interest had piqued when I saw the trailer; however, the level of interest rested at “I’ll catch it on DVD when my library gets it”. When the reviews came out, panning the Wachowski’s latest film, I had misguided hope that maybe the critics were wrong. If worse came to worse, it would be a fun popcorn movie that would keep the patrons out from the cold for two hours.

I’m down for a film that has a great adventure and some fantastic world-building, but I shouldn’t need to ask for the characters to wear nametags (yes, it was one of those films). It reminded me of when I watched Dune for the first time, except that this is an original property. I’m sure the actors had some idea of how this universe worked but if the script was really as long as is reported (600 pages), I would’ve been lost. It’s clear that some scenes were left on the cutting room floor, if only to keep a reasonable runtime, but they probably had some explanatory elements.

Visually speaking, it’s a mixed bag. The sets are spectacular and immersive but there’s no consistency in style. There was a lot of care in the modeling of the ships and visual effects, that much is certain. The make-up at times was a cross between How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the Rat King from The Nutcracker in 3D. The lighting is an uninspired teal and orange combination that has run rampant on movie posters in particular as of late (see for yourself).

The acting is okay, I guess. Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum tried their best but they look uninterested in what’s going on. Now that I think about it, Mila Kunis didn’t look happy at any point in the film. Eddie Redmayne’s performance is more about the chewing the scenery; at first you don’t believe it but then it persists.

There are some unintentionally laughable moments because of what is on the screen. Sure, the roller-blade motion of the gravity boots is cool but when you do it in the middle of a corn field, it’s ridiculous. Same goes for the bees. I leaned over and quoted the remake of Wicker Man (among other things throughout the film) as it happened because of how it looked. It’s one thing to utilize visual elements for aesthetic reasons with reasoning to back it up. It’s another when they fail to work together as a whole.

It’s set up to be a franchise but there’s no need. If it does indeed continue, I hope that there are more people on hand to monitor the writing. When I rewatch the film in a year or so, you’ll know there’ll be an alternate soundtrack. Save yourself the trouble and wait for it come on DVD, if you do plan to see it.

4/10

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