Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending ★★★½

It is astonishing that a film as bizarre and outlandish as Jupiter Ascending even exists in today's blockbuster scene. Ever since The Matrix, the Wachowskis have been known for their inventive and boundary-breaking filmmaking, but I suppose only few people were prepared for the explosive b-movie extravaganza clouded in a visual feast with sometimes cheesy, frequently atrocious dialogues. In celebrating its influences, from the pulpy sci-fi novels of the 1950s to the over-the-top techno-thrillers of the 1980s and '90s, Jupiter Ascending rarely manages to grow into its very own thing, but it still succeeds in creating its own alternate universe, a biosphere with its own rules, species and historical background.

Following in the footsteps of Neo's Chosen One narrative from The Matrix as it might look like embedded in the aesthetic of the Star Wars prequels and from a female perspective, Jupiter's destiny in an interplanetary conflict lays the groundwork for a reflection on greed and overconsumption.

For obvious reasons, Jupiter Ascending is visually and dramatically over-the-top, but it was also never intended to be a serious drama devoid of comedy. The campy premise shines through each fiber of the material and every ounce of the performances, none more so than Eddie Redmayne, who appears to be a cross between Ralph Fiennes' Voldemort and Emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars universe, yet looks utterly ridiculous and makes it a struggle not to laugh at his line delivery. Meanwhile, Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum aren't doing much, but it's enough for the sake of this movie where the characters are not the strongest selling features anyway.

There is barely no defending this movie; nobody could be blamed for disliking just how wild and lunatic Jupiter Ascending is. But isn't there also a peculiar kind of beauty in how the Wachowskis were able to take a $200 million budget and defy all constraints, instead absolutely going for whatever their creative vision was and creating something so off the charts and outside of the standards of the industry? Warner Bros. wanted them to develop the first film of a new franchise, the plans for which were obviously abandoned immediately once this film was seen by, well, anyone. An eye-pleasing, incoherent, messy, wild spectacle that has all the makings of a cult classic, even if this was probably the last time anyone approached the Wachowskis to develop an original sci-fi franchise. I found tremendous enjoyment this time around, but honestly, there is no wrong take on this film; I understand everyone's criticisms and can agree with all of them. I suppose I'm just turning into an irredeemable Wachowski apologist.

Included in: 2015 Ranked | The Wachowskis | Directed by Women (2022) | They're Actually Good

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