Oh, Wachowskis. Why you gotta make such pretty movies set up in such nice universes, and have no solid screenplays to back that up? You’re forcing me to give a bad review to a film that stars Channing Tatum with pointy ears and eyeliner. I’m pretty sure that in the freeland of the Internet, that is a crime. Come on, the guy is a good actor, a good dancer, and you found a way to make him look otherworldly enough to make him more attractive than he usually is, you paired him up with Mila Kunis, and you did not find a way to give him anything else to do than play fetch? You can’t be serious.
Okay, let’s start from the beginning before I lose myself into yet another rant.
Jupiter Ascending stars Mila Kunis as a half Russian, half English illegal immigrant who spends her life cleaning houses (and particularly toilets) as a member of the family business. She hates her life (as any girl who likes pretty dresses and has to witness what people do to their toilet bowls do) and her only, very modest dream is to buy a telescope, both as an homage to her dead father and… well, I guess she likes looking at the stars? It’s never actually showed in the movie. Oh Seven Hells, this is already falling apart, isn’t it? In any case, she needs money and her cousin sets her up with a clinic that is willing to buy her eggs. Meanwhile, in space, space rich people talk in riddles about harvesting the Earth and finding someone that they absolutely need to get rid of. That person, of course, is Jupiter, who teams up with the Lycanthian Caine Wise to, er, do stuff and go places, because bees don’t sting her so that means she’s royalty. Sean Bean said so.
See how I can barely sum up the movie without tripping over its massive plot holes? Imagine watching it. In sci-fi and fantasy, the last thing you want is to have the audience raise an eyebrow and go “Er, no. You made that shit up.” Of course, deep down, the audience is aware of the fact that a movie is just make believe, but they count on you, the crew and cast of the film, to make them forget that and maintain them in the comfortable little cocoon that us writers call “suspension of disbelief.” Unfortunately for Jupiter Ascending, it fails to do that on the most basic level, a fact that is not helped by the astonishing amount of clichés that the Wachowskis managed to cram in one single story. I rolled my eyes at every twist and turn the script attempted to take, because they were either entirely predictable, or not set up at all to try and take the audience by surprise. I don’t want to enter spoiler territory, but I could write page after page on why none of the big turning points in that story make sense on a basic storytelling level. And the ending? Lazy, lame-ass, sexist bullshit.
Why sexist? Well, because the entire movie is, but the way it ended was the last straw. The movie is already bad without it, don’t get me wrong, and even the male characters are little more than stereotypes, but at least they get to do stuff. The lack of consideration that the movie shows for its female characters is baffling. I remember watching the trailers and thinking that Jupiter looked like a decoy, a female protagonist that was there only to respond to a demand for more female characters, without the writers understanding that what was really asked for was more good female characters. I was right. Jupiter is so passive that Princess Peach herself would call bullshit on this. Caine is always there to save her ass and aside from that one scene in the third act where she finally stands up for herself -but not too much, her only decision is to marry someone. Yup. She’s royalty, but somehow her only power is to give herself to a man “for the greater good”. See my middle finger slowly dancing all by itself in the air? That’s me flipping you off, movie. Even when Jupiter starts being “active”, Caine saves her, because of course she can’t make one fucking good decision for herself. Then, in the end, (and this is going to be the only spoiler, I promise), she decides that she’ll be happy as a housekeeper as long as she gets to keep the only thing she’s been interested in the whole time: a boyfriend. I am fury. Fuck you, movie. Fuck you.
Watching Jupiter Ascending was probably what it would have felt like to watch the Titanic sink: a glorious enterprise with gorgeous visuals getting wrecked by its fatal conceptual flaws and a series of terrible, terrible decisions. But I mean, why was I expecting anything else from a movie that considers The Seventh Son its biggest rival?
– Anais L