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So Bad it is Good: Jupiter Ascending

Nerds, let’s be honest. There are things in our world that we know on some level are bad. But there is something deep in our nerd hearts that makes us go: “But it is good.

Most the time, these things are old favorites, like the 1980s Flash Gordon movie with the epic Queen soundtrack or Flight of the Navigator. (Trust me, if you love Flight of the Navigator, you haven’t watched it recently because that movie does NOTHING for the first 40 minutes. It is like watching sci-fi paint dry.)

But occasionally, something new comes along and you go “This is so bad, it is good.”  Today, let’s talk Jupiter Ascending.

[divider] Jupiter Ascending Plot [/divider]
First, let’s breakdown the key elements of this movie:

  1. Written, directed by the Wachowskis. You may remember, they gave us the Matrix and ever since then, Hollywood has given them large checks to make more movies. I suspect that Jupiter Ascending is the last of those projects and maybe with good reason. But they make a heck of an effort to put together an epic space opera in this film.
  2. One of those “let’s get all the young, hip people” casts, including Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne, who it should be noted won the Academy award last year.
  3. An epic plot.

So, a quick explanation: Mila Kunis is Jupiter Jones, a normal hard-working American. When it all breaks loose, people come to kill her and she is rescued by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) who is a genetically altered solider who is half man, half wolf? and has elf ears.

Things progress from there and it is quite honestly a crazy journey. Jupiter turns out to be a descendant of a space throne and the current throne wants her dead, so she nearly cuts a deal to save the Earth.

And yeah, it is nutso. But…I kind of like it.

[divider] Jupiter Ascending Cast [/divider]

Channing Tatum’s character is developed completely insanely. He is a warrior who has roller blades that essentially work on air. (This gives me great hopes for a Roller Racer appearance in a Marvel movie because we know the technology is there.)

Tatum gives a decent performance in the epic hero role. Wikipedia says he wore a mouthpiece that changed his jaw, to which I say “What? I didn’t notice anything!

Mila Kunis is trying hard in her role. I mean, she is giving it her all and doing her best, but it isn’t a stellar role from the start.

The world building is actually pretty decent. The whole soldier mutates thing could be really interesting for the never to be made sequel. For instance, Sean Bean’s character is a human, bee combo. I mean, that begs all sorts of combinations and I hope they release some art about it at some point.

And Eddie Redmayne. So, obviously, he can act. But the direction he got must have been “Crank it to 11 and leave it there.” I mean, he goes full on crazy supervillain here and it is amazing. Not good per se, but amazing.  He does a weird raspy old man voice, which matches his make-up, which shows him as an older man in much of the movie.

To be fair, the special effects are what a movie of this budget should be. If I had a criticism, it would be that they do too many big epic shots but I think that was largely a way to lend the story gravity that it didn’t have on its own.

[divider] Jupiter Ascending Action Figures? [/divider]

Jupiter Ascending was meant to be an original intellectual property for Warner Brothers. They wanted to create a brand new thing to compete in the world of sequels and cinematic universes.  And while the movie is certainly a new thing, it isn’t necessarily a good one by objective standards.

The Wachowskis have talked about the movie being influenced by such things as Homer’s The Odyssey and The Wizard of Oz. And most the time, it feels like they elevator pitched a mash-up of those things and much more and out came this movie.

Jupiter Ascending isn’t great by any objective measurement. But it might be so bad that it is good.