Jupiter Ascending: In Defense of the Batshit Space Opera [Review]

Jupiter Ascending

Have you heard about Jupiter Ascending? If you’re conscious, then the answer is probably yes. What you’ve heard about it may vary quite a bit, though, as the movie’s received a fair amount of hate from the thinking-about-stuff crowd. “The plot doesn’t make any sense.” “Channing Tatum somehow hitched—and survived—an interplanetary ride clinging to the outside of a spaceship, in part due to his magic rollerblades.” “I’ve seen more emotionally complex villains in 1940s Captain America comics.” (SPOILER, highlight to read: “Sean Bean lives.”)

Yes, dear reader, these allegations are all true. But I present to you the following counterargument: Who the hell cares? This movie, which tells the tale of toilet-cleaning space princess Mila Kunis and the dog-man Channing Tatum who loves her, is the most fun you’re going to have in a theater this year. I feel confident writing that in February, because I’m about 95 percent sure the Wachowskis’ pitch meeting for this movie was just them making “WHOOSH” and “BOOM” noises with their mouths while flailing their arms. What I’m saying is Jupiter Ascending is so clearly the product of pure, unabashed, and un-self-conscious passion that you can’t help but love it.

Fuck is this? Some cool future shit, that’s what.

Fuck is this? Some cool future shit, that’s what.

The plot is just as absurd as this kind of thing demands. Kunis is the genetic reincarnation of the millennia-old matriarch of a powerful family of space-capitalists who (SPOILER: literally suck the life out of planets to keep them young and hot). She is decidedly not cool with this, but that doesn’t stop all of the squabbling spoiled space babies of her past-life brood from trying to hit that. Channing Tatum, who is so not-related to her as to be not even technically the same species, unsurprisingly succeeds where his romantic rivals fail. Tatum and Kunis struggle to save the world and protect the latter’s space-mom birthright to prevent genocidal atrocities. If you want moral gray areas, go watch Birdman or some shit.

In this age of ironies, Jupiter Ascending, and big dumb ridiculous movies like it, is a necessary release valve. We—in this pop culture of ours—have withstood just about two and a half decades of having Grim Self-Doubt shoved down our throats as the only “mature” tone for our stories to take. Jupiter Ascending takes one look at such a concept with the eye of an ex-space cop man-bee hybrid who just wants his wings back and says, “Fuck all that.”

Now, Jupiter Ascending does not do a good job of establishing or following internal rules. Its world-building is deeply questionable. Its plot may have been conceived immediately after imperfectly eavesdropping on someone explaining a David Brin novel in a crowded coffee shop. Literally every one of Mila Kunis’s retroactive space children wants to bone their reincarnated mom. But I say to you, does not Channing Tatum anti-grav rollerblade through the exploding streets of Chicago to then capoeira-smash like 30 bulbous-headed gray-skinned aliens single-handedly? Does not a trench-coated space dragon enter hand-to-hand combat with this self-same Channing Tatum? Does not Eddie Redmayne look like Randall Boggs from Monsters, Inc.?

Helpful guide: L: Randall Boggs; R: Eddie Redmayne

Helpful guide: L: Randall Boggs; R: Eddie Redmayne

You can see it in the long, but never drawn-out mass-casualty chase scenes, the graceful-but-ferocious fight choreography for Tatum, and the moments where dialogue was clearly crafted with a single throwaway gag in mind (but it’s still charming): This is a 127-minute ode to the Rule of Cool (which, if the Wachowskis had had their way, would’ve quite possibly been way, way longer).

We’ve got spaceships. We’ve got explosions. We’ve got political intrigue (and incest and weirdo sex stuff, but the plot points actually resolve themselves in too reasonable a timeframe to hold the Game of Thrones crowd). We’ve got evil space capitalists and science-as-religion. We’ve got Mila Kunis using a maybe-bestiality-themed pickup line on Channing Tatum’s patchy dog-beard. Frankly, I don’t know what else to give you people to make you want to see this movie. All I can say is: do it. You won’t regret it. You may even actually have fun at the movies for once, instead of leaving the theater thinking about how shitty your childhood was or how fucked up this country was and is or how crushingly insignificant your life is. Instead, you can leave the theater thinking how bitchin’ it would be to be a dog dude from outer space with ludicrous flying rollerblades. That’s where my $14 is going, anyway.



Jupiter Ascending is still out in theaters everywhere, so, you know, if you want The Wachowskis to keep being given millions of dollars to make movies like it, go see it.

Post By Cameron DeOrdio (15 Posts)


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