Thursday, March 12, 2015

Jupiter Ascending Descends Into Mediocrity

Elf ears, hyper–fantastic alien technology and even Sean Bean can’t deliver the Wachowski’s latest flick from the planet ‘meh’.


ARTH VADER (AV): Jupiter Ascending is an original IP (Intellectual Property) crafted by Lana and Andy Wachowski. One their first original collaborations. The Wachowskis certainly know how to make decent films though they can’t seem to develop a proper screenplay to save their lives. Even the Matrix was someone else’s idea and the first one was stellar. Wikipedia identifies this flick as a “Space Opera” and I am at a real loss as to why, Pontificator. What were your thoughts? 

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): An “original” film, I am not aware of any previous renditions of this story, which either says it is really an original piece of work, or not really worth the time to think up. I must confess that it actually may be a mixture of both. I thought the plot that the Earth was seeded purely as a future resource was interesting, but the execution of the plot was severely lacking. If by “Opera” you mean it nearly put me to sleep Vader… then yeah, pretty much.


AV: I tried Ponty, I really did. I searched high, I looked low I just couldn’t find any evidence of acting anywhere in this flick. It’s like it just wasn’t there. No emotion, no emoting, no magic, no panache and certainly no vested motivation of any kind… anywhere. Someone also fell asleep at the wheel on the casting as Mila “Remember me from TED” Kunis dialed in her performance as 'Jupiter' from a satellite phone. Channing “21 Jump Street” Tatum was so busy posing and trying to look intimidating he forgot to bring any depth whatsoever to the role of the wolf-like Caine Wise (Wise Canine? Really). The saving grace for the category is certainly the direction which chose to use effects to tell the story then characters. But more on that in a moment, P-Man. 

TP: There is really only so much a cast, any cast, can do… given the material they are tasked with bringing to the silver screen. In this case, with the plot and script being what it was, I have to extend some slack to the cast for doing the best they could. Channing Tatum is a capable enough actor and having him constantly in motion was probably the best he could hope for in this film. Mila Kunis was actually a bit refreshing given the script as was Eddie Redmayne's over-the-top performance. I am a Sean Bean fan and was disappointed there was nothing of substance for him to sink his acting chops into.


AV: Ah, now on to the tune value-added element(s) of Jupiter Ascending. The visual effects are other-worldly (see what I did there?). Fantastic technology and stunningly arresting visual and sound effects really are the stuff that help make Jupiter Ascending shine. I can truly say that the intergalactic sailing ships were breathtaking and the sound effects, ships and battle scenes were all top notch. Well done visual effects in Hollywood are the stuff of dreams which is perfect since this movie damn-near puts the viewer to sleep so at least the visual effects are the stuff of dreams. Ponty? 

TP: The special effects were done very well, and if a film could stand alone by effects, this would certainly be a winner Vader. Although there was no new ground broken, the application of some of them had me thinking about how they could be applied to other films. The gliding boot sequences had me thinking how easy it would be to do Mister Miracle onscreen (pay attention WB). Overall, the effects were very well done although more advantage could've been taken with the IMAX 3D application (as usual). 


AV: The Wachowskis somehow get their hands on really terrific screenplays in Hollywood and do (it seems) everything they can to make them sub par. Now, I know, that is not deliberate, but it is the end result. The Matrix, V for Vendetta, Speed Racer, and Cloud Atlas to name just a few are all properties they get their hands on and flub up. Jupiter Ascending is just one more but when will Hollywood wise up and not give them screenplays that do not give them a massive visual effects budget? This film suffers from a lot of things and one of the glaring ones is a lack of vision. Show me all the pretty graphics you like, but this film is a two hour and seven minute yawner that breaks your will to watch way more than it breaks new ground. 

TP: This film had a great idea and somewhere along the way, went mindless with it. The idea that the Earth was really seeded to be harvested later to keep other people immortal is some great science-fiction. Not getting more in-depth with the larger community where all this seems to be normal left me lost. Constantly showing a different alien (or not so alien) species with every new camera shot didn’t help advance the story. It was like watching four years worth of “Star Trek” episodes in two hours….cramming every alien you can make up, but never explaining who or what they are…and expecting me to buy into it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the necessary funds.


AV: No thank you. 

TP: I’m not really interested in a sequel either, but unfortunately the door has been left slightly ajar. Hopefully this oversight is ignored. 


ARTH VADER Rates Jupiter Ascending: The New York Post stated it best; "Jupiter Ascending is so bad it's almost good'. As much as I have kicked this film in the shins, this is by far NOT the worst movie I have seen, That said, with the high levels of bile used to make this film and the fact that this film just doesn’t matter, means you can likely rent, buy on video or altogether blow off. Let’s face it, if you miss this one, no points lost. Regardless, I slapped on a pair of elf ears, tossed on my air-glider boots ascended to give Jupiter Ascending three (3) out of 10 Busted Blocks. 

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Jupiter Ascending: With a great idea and great special effects, this film could have been a lot better than what it was… if it also had a great script and something tangible for good actors to work with. Unfortunately it didn’t have that and was only able to ascend five (5) busted blocks… and got nowhere near Jupiter.

Jupiter Ascending 4 / 10 Busted Blocks

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