Do you like plot? I hope you don’t like plot.
For reasons that were never truly clear to me, the hype train actually left the station in anticipation of the Wachowski siblings’ new film. I mean, I like their stuff, and I believe having to live in a world with no sequel to the Speed Racer movie is to live in a world somehow lacking all of the colors of the rainbow. We need more colors. That being said, the trailers for this movie never made me scream with ecstasy like the trailer for Speed Racer did.
In any case, Jupiter Ascending is not afraid of what I am going to call the Wachowski Aesthetic, and makes no apology for it.
The hair styles during a lot of the “in space” segments seem to be strongly inspired by (and seek to outdo) the hair you will see frequently in any Hunger Games movie. That doesn’t really give points for or against the movie, but it does set some of the aesthetic mood; you’d better get used to weird is what I am saying here.
Visuals aside, it is painfully easy to pick apart the plot. As far as the romantic subplot goes, I was tempted to mention to my fellow moviegoers that it was still a better love story than Twilight, but — well, that is actually a difficult assertion to make here. The love story is forced, the character development nil, and the subtlety nonexistent. It is really hard to watch at times, and there is one line that is so groan-worthy that everyone in the theater (and even the character who delivered it) kind of just… Died a little inside. You’ll know it when you see it.
Plot threads are introduced and removed with little consideration. “Here is a main character with huge drama that you will never see again, and we will never speak of again.” If you want a tidy movie where the threads are all tied together at the end, you are in the wrong theater. There are threads central to the plot that just go away, disappear into the wide ether. Knowing that plot threads don’t matter, most of the drama in the movie actually comes from Sean Bean‘s reputation, rather than any writing done.
In all seriousness, during the action scenes I was always on the edge of my seat, wondering when Sean Bean would make his heroic sacrifice to save the main characters. It created tension where otherwise there was none, and don’t get me wrong, this movie does try to create tension.
The antagonists (and their motives) are highly underdeveloped, and at several points in the movie you never really know what they want. At best, they can be described as a confused two dimensional narrative; you might know what they want, as a vague idea, but damn do they work hard to make that idea a reality. And I don’t mean efficiently, or they continually tell you what they want, no, I mean every time you come closer to the idea of what they want, it has cost you minutes of your life, and I believe kittens were killed in the background to keep the plot moving along. The whole movie was powered by kitten souls, is what I am saying here.
Ok, I think I am tuckered out of negativity, so let’s talk about what was good. The movie was fun, so long as you don’t think too hard while you are in there. If you are in here with a successfully suspended disbelief, you might just enjoy the movie. I won’t lie, I have some bias; I generally enjoy the Wachowski’s, for better or for worse, and I had fun with it. After the movie, when I walked out of the theater, reflecting upon what I saw, it was then that I realized part of my brain had been killed by that movie, but I was ok with it. I did not feel like my time was wasted, in any case.
The other good thing is the anti-gravity boots. They looked fun, and weren’t just a one-off piece of technology to instill in you the idea of “LOOK AT THE FUTURE!!!” They were central to a lot of the choreography, and used heavily.
Speaking of choreography, if you came to this movie expecting some fun action scenes, you at least came for the right reasons. Whether it is fight choreography, gunfight choreography, race car choreography, or planes in a dogfight, the Wachowski’s never disappoint in this area — and certainly, they did not. In a lot of the fights, I wasn’t sure who I was cheering for, but that was a function of the plot rather than bad camera work. Following along that thought, the camera work was a lot better than a lot of modern Hollywood action scenes, with their jarring movements and shakiness that has become the current mainstream for some reason or another.
I will say the same thing about this movie that I have said about many others that I give high ratings to; it is not a “good” movie, but it is enjoyable. If you are here for plot, or acting, or — you know — a good movie? You are in the wrong place. If you came for action, or stellar choreography, or just a fun ride, you came for the right reasons.
Will you like the movie? Well, that depends on your tolerance for its many flaws. The flaws weren’t what I focused on while I was watching it, but I won’t lie and say they weren’t there in a review.
Go watch it.
A confusing plot, bad acting, and general weirdness make this movie difficult to approach if you are looking for a triple ‘A’ blockbuster — but the action and choreography, as well as the beautifully designed set pieces make it an interesting ride anyway. I’d say watch it for the same reasons you might watch a ‘Fast & Furious’ movie; turn off your brain and let the weirdness flow through you.