Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Jupiter Ascending

On Tuesday, March 31st , we caught up with “Jupiter Ascending” at the budget cinema. It hadn’t been a specific decision to wait, even given the poor reviews, it just happened we couldn’t get out to it while it was in first-run.

The major reason we were interested in seeing the film (besides the general idea of supporting big-budget SF films--) was for the visuals, and in that regard, it wasn’t disappointing. The CGI spaceships and settings were indeed beautiful and fantastic, which made the film (mostly) a feast for the eyes. In particular, I was very taken with the multi-part reconfigurable starships. The planetary designs and the interiors reflect the decadent society of the Galactics (particularly the antiquated tech in use by the bureaucracy of home world) which would have been very good for the “Dune” universe. The exception comes with some of the battle scenes, which tend to become blurs of color and motion that are hard to interpret.

Once you get past the ludicrous premise of Jupiter being the exact genetic twin of a woman born on another planet, the plot has potential, but a lot of it is squandered. It’s mainly a kind of reverse-Cinderella, where Jupiter (Mila Kinis) gets recognized as heir to the Planet Earth, and then discovers the awful relatives, notably sort-of stepsons Titus Abrasax (Douglas Booth) and Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne). After initial attempts to kill her are thwarted by wolf-human hybrid warrior Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), Jupiter is yanked off Earth and into an unfortunately cliché-ridden and repetitive cycle of abduction, threat, and last-second rescue.

There are good bits. I rather liked Kunis as the unsophisticated young woman who gets thrown into this maelstrom, alternating between keeping her head and ranting at what fate has done to her. Tatum is suitably feral as the wolf-man, although he doesn’t get to do much except action scenes. Booth is OK as the smooth villain, and Redmayne perhaps unintentionally amusing as the growly over-the-top villain. My favorite characters were in smaller roles, such as Nikki Amuka-Bird as the competent and compassionate Aegis commander; Samuel Barnett as “Advocate Bob,” an android lawyer; and the cameo by Terry Gilliam as the “Seal and Signet Minister.”

So, pretty to see, but ultimately unsatisfying, a pity. The movie would have been better if it were either about a third shorter, or much longer, since it could have been a mini-series rife with intrigue, ala “Dune,” or “Game of Thrones.” (Interesting how I keep coming back to “Dune”—what I think I would like to see would be this production team tackle “Dune”, but with someone else doing the script.)

Oh, and coolest SF gadget of the year—Caine’s gravity gliding boots!)

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Tags: movies, science-fiction
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