Friday, July 24, 2015

Movie #320: Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending is an entirely underrated space opera directed by the Wachowskis and starring Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, and Tuppence Middleton.

In this world, human beings originated on a faraway planet, and "seed" other worlds with human DNA mixed with the genetic material of similar species. When the planet reaches a certain population, it is "harvested" - everyone there is killed and the resulting material is rendered to a jizz-like substance that keeps people alive and young. The most important family doing all this, the Abrasax house, sees a three-way power struggle between siblings Balem (Redmayne), Kalique (Middleton), and Titus (Booth).

Meanwhile, a girl born to a Russian woman and a murdered Englishman grows up in Chicago, cleaning toilets and generally hating her life. This girl, named Jupiter (Kunis) is the "recurrence" of the mother of the Abrasax siblings, and is being pursued by everyone, including a former space-soldier named Caine (Tatum), who's basically half wolf. He gets help from a former comrade (Bean) who's half bee, and...

...this movie is fucking insane.

When it came out, there was a lot of waffle about how stupid it was. Roller-skating space werewolves? Reincarnation on a genetic scale? Dense family-drama on a Shakespearean level? But here's the thing: It's space opera. It's not more dense and ridiculous than Star Wars, and it's got a female lead who doesn't "win" by murdering everyone (still plenty of fun action, though). The world is beautifully realized and rendered, the characters all have understandable and even somewhat relateable motives.

What I find interesting is Jupiter deciding, at the end, to return to her life but to own it. She still loves the stars and still wants something more, but she can have it. She literally owns the world. She has the power to change everything, but she takes some time to live the life she knows (while, y'know, snogging her space-werewolf boyfriend and hover-skating through the skies of Chicago, because holy shit why wouldn't you) and figure out what it all means. It feels like the ending is earned.

And then there's other stuff I like, like the fact that the Aegis (space-cops) aren't entirely stupid and once they figure out what's going on, they act like decent, intelligent people. I like that Jupiter doesn't become a magical fighty badass over the course of the movie; she does fight, but badly, and she relies on Caine for the heavy stuff. She's the heroine of the movie, but that isn't demonstrated by martial prowess.

Michelle calls this "sci-fi for girls," and after seeing Teagan's reaction to it, I kinda agree. I don't think we'll get a sequel, since it kinda bombed at the box office, but I'm glad we have it.

My grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next Up: Jurassic Park