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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jupiter Ascending

Oops, forgot to post this here.

Check out the original review at Channel 24 for some tasty hate-comments. I honestly don't know why I reply to these people...

Oh yeah I played around with my usual reviewing format, maybe that had something to do with it.

What it's about

Jupiter Jones, a young woman, who divides her life between her obnoxious immigrant family and her job cleaning toilets, suddenly finds herself the centre of an intergalactic family feud.

What we thought

My dear, dear Wachowski siblings, what ever are we going do with you?

We all know that the Matrix was never as original or (maybe, just maybe) as good as its reputation suggests, but it was still a major event in the history of science fiction cinema that took bits of everything from Grant Morrison's comic books to Philip K Dick's novels to oodles and oodles of Asian cinema (both animated or otherwise) and turned out a product that at least felt like something genuinely new and exciting. Sure, it had rubbish dialogue, plenty of plot holes and a too-cool-for school aesthetic but damnit was it exciting!

Since then, what have you offered us? Ghastly sequels to your breakout hit, a psychedelic tribute to an old cartoon and a failed adaptation of a highly respected novel, that's what. And yet, through all the cod philosophy and narrative pretzels, I still respected your ambitions and, at the very least, your attempts to actually say something with your films. Well, not so much Speed Racer, both because I never saw it and because it's Speed Racer but your other films, certainly. Yes, even your really, really terrible Matrix suck-wells (see what I did there?).

I'm afraid though, that my patience might just have reached a breaking point. I know that the themes of rebirth and reincarnation of Cloud Atlas were a bit much to swallow at times, but you really didn't have to make the unspeakably stupid Jupiter Ascending as your answer to it.

Now, I know, we all love those old pulps and the “regular Joe becomes intergalactic hero” trope is a trope for a reason but perhaps it would be best to leave the Flash Gordon pastiches to the professionals - or, at the very least those with a working sense of humour? Sure, 80% of your past work has been, to borrow a phrase, bobbins but at least you had the guts to actually engage with genre cinema, to try and use mindless spectacle to actually tell us something more than just “gee aren't these explosions pretty” But what, oh what, are you trying to say with Jupiter Ascending?

Now, don't get me wrong, not all is lost – or at least not quite. You still know how to provide serious visual spectacle and, unlike some other “big name” directors, you at least know how to frame exciting action scenes that don't make you want to throw up or fall asleep. Also, kudos on getting Mila Kunis for the lead role. She isn't exactly on good form here (but hey, who is?) but at least she's both ludicrously pretty enough and charming and charismatic enough to give this balderdash some much needed life.

But what of everyone and everything else? Are you too proud to bring on another writer to at least polish your dreadful dialogue, to make sense of your convoluted plotting, to give your characters at least something resembling a couple of dimensions – it did wonders for your really rather good V For Vendetta adaptation, after all? And is there a particular reason why you took only the worst stuff from a couple of decades worth of quality genre TV (Babylon 5, Dr Who, even Game of Thrones) or did you simply assume that the Flash Gordon movie simply represents the very best in sci-fi art and costume design? Most importantly, what did poor Eddy Redmaine ever do to you that you had to ensure that he followed his career-high performance in the Theory of Everything with a role so hopelessly hokey that it would make Ed Wood blush?

I know, I know: it's pulp! It's campy! It's a tribute to all those wonderfully silly but imaginative old comics and scifi serials! Yeah... no, it's not. Or at least, not successfully so. See, it's cute and all that you want to pay homage to scifi's trashier side but in order for such a thing to truly work, you need to actually touch on the things that made that stuff so much fun in the first place. You need the sense of humour, as well as the knowledge and the right kind of skills to pull such a thing off – and sorry Andy and Lana, you just don't have what it takes.

Sure, in most of your other films you've vanished up your own behinds but, please, rather give us that then this embarrassing take on trash-cinema that's not so much trashy, as it is crappy. And believe me, there's a huge difference between the two.

Sincerely no longer yours,

Ilan Preskovsky

(Professional pretentious geek and random movie reviewer)

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