Saturday, 15 August 2015

Jupiter Ascending (2014)

Lost space queen gets rescued over and over again.

Okay, Jupiter Ascending is not hard sci-fi, in fact it's barely space opera. The science is never explained and in the words of Arthur C. Clarke; "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". What it is, is a mish-mash of myth and fairy tale, merging Greek, Roman, Norse and Hindu mythology to come up with a bizarre galaxy full of lizard men and space vampires. In one scene we even leave this established but messy and colourful background to enter Terry Gilliam's grey steampunk Brazil setting full of pipes and bureaucracy (with a cameo by Gilliam himself). What the fuck is going on here? World-building by someone with ADHD.

The plot is just as chaotic with elements of Flash Gordon, The Matrix, Barbarella, Carmilla/Elizabeth Bathory and Jason and the Argonauts. We can even mix in some Hitchcock as our heroine's name is Jupiter Jones; the same name as the leader of Hitch's Three Investigators books, which I loved as a child. It seems that Jupiter Ascending is the Wachowski's Kill Bill! Every time I think that the Wachowskis are going to say something really important about class, gender or the patriarchy, it just ends up with another scene of Mila Kunis getting rescued yet again. Come on Lana, what the fuck were you thinking! Is this the same woman that gave us the wonderful Sense8? Oh, and what was with that ending?

So the world-building is a mess, the plot is a mess, what about the characters? Channing Tatum is an odd duck. He looks so utterly blank but every film I see him in he seems to shine somehow. Like I said, odd; I like him. His satyr/fawn-like character is the usual "get out of jail free" card for the resident damsel in distress Mila Kunis, whose character sets feminism back a good 30 years by refusing to do anything proactive, giving into the baddies under the slightest pressure and needing to be rescued over and over and over again. Anyway, she's "The One" or the Queen... I forget which. Eddie Redmayne plays a cookie-cutter Machiavellian Ming the Merciless type character - he really only needed a long droopy moustache to fondle and he'd have been perfect. Sean Bean is okay.

It's all big, colourful, messy and silly but the limp portrayal of the female characters let the entire film down in my opinion.

"You don't treat your cousin like chicken!"

"Gordon's alive!"

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