…because that’s what happens to crap. Jupiter Ascending was crap, you see? That’s mostly all you need to know. It was crap and the frustration thing was, it didn’t NEED to be crap.
I’m actually kind of mad about this one because with $176M budget and a premise that was actually pretty decent, we could have had a smart, franchise ready geek property. Instead we go this. Even with the terrible execution, there was enough here to make you think “What If?” That’s worse than if it was just 100% dreadful.
The cast did a decent job with an awful script. Mila Kunis was likable and compelling as the lead. Eddie Redmayne was chewing the scenery but I enjoyed him as much as I could given his dialogue. Channing Tatum was excellent as Channing Tatum. With a decent script and actual direction, these guys would have been perfectly cast. Not their fault.
The premise was also not the problem. An ancient race of human predecessors fight over Earth as a piece of property for some spoilery purpose that could have led to interesting coffee house discussion after the film had it actually landed. If this was done well, I’d loved to have explored the rules of this new universe in sequels.
The action, gadgetry, and special effects was very well done. I liked Tatum’s grav boots, his energy shield, and his space-suits-in-a-can. There were some great ship battles and visuals of an obscured world beyond the storms of Jupiter. At the very least I will concede the CGI budget was used well.
It was just wasted in a way I haven’t seen since Pacific Rim. I think the best comparison is that this movie is like one of the most advanced and technologically impressive video games ever made. The only problem is the rest of the movie made it about as interesting as watching someone else playing one of the most advanced and technologically impressive video games ever made.
So how did a film with so much going for it turn out to be such a stinker?
The Wachowskis. It is abundantly clear that the siblings have NO actual directing or screenwriting abilities. They only know how to create vibrant universes and concepts, but lack the skills to cultivate these ideas into watchable films. They are still coasting off the lightning in a bottle brilliance of the first Matrix film and I think time has run out on a movie that debuted in 1999. It leads me to wonder if they just got lucky and only had one great movie in them because nothing they’ve done since has worked for me.
Essentially, the Wachowskis are George Lucas.
Lucas is brilliant at universe building, but left to his own devices he surrounds that universe with “romantic” dialogue such as “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth”. Like the Wachowskis, Lucas had early directorial success (American Graffiti and Episode 4) and never did anything quality again without the help of Steven Spielberg or Lawrence Kasdan.
The difference is, Lucas owned Star Wars, so he could leverage that to make whatever he wants. The Wachowskis didn’t create a billion dollar empire.
The Wachowskis are done.