Before it came out, I’d been looking forward to the Wachowskis’ new film Jupiter Ascending for some time. Sure I knew it could be bad, but hey, it was original sci-fi! It just looked like a cheesey space-opera, and more importantly, it wasn’t an adaptation, sequel, prequel, knock-off, remake, reboot, reimagining, retooling, or anything of the sort! Then it came out, everyone talked about what shit it was and I put off going to see it for several weeks. But eventually, I figured I should support original sci-fi in the theater, no matter that it sucks. On a Thursday. At one in the afternoon. When there were like, three other people in the theater. My dollars tell Hollywood, “You’re doing something right! Not a lot right, but something right!” And now I have this to say:
What a fucking waste.
Over the course of the movie we’re introduced to one of the most fantastic and beautiful depictions of an intergalactic society I’ve ever seen. As a world building buff I can safely say that the setting of this film was spectacular. The basic premise [SPOILERS!] is that humanity, in fact a race millions of years old, having mastered command of space, the universe, and its own genetics, is living in a universe with no scarcity save for one: Immortality, the source of which is a substance harvested humans seeded on alien worlds (including Earth) and allowed to develop to overabundance by plutocratic eccentrics. Due to the use of genetic engineering, genetics takes on a certain almost religious connotation in their society, and the purity of royal genes is revered to the point that if they randomly reappear in any of the gazillions humans they’re breeding as cattle, the human is seen as equivalent to the royal, and is subject to their estate, as is the case with the title character. It is, in my opinion, an incredibly well thought out universe that I cannot help but respect the ingenuity of.
And the script was shit. Absolute shit.
I think I speak for everyone when I say I went into this hoping to see a strong female protagonist come out of this, but Mila Kunis’ character is absolutely useless throughout the entire film. The better part of the plot consists of her getting captured and almost dooming the entire Earth repeatedly. She’s a damsel in distress there for Caine, aka werewolf Channing Tatum to rescue in spectacular fashion whom they tried to pass off as a protagonist. They tried to make her more badass in the last ten minutes of the film by having her finally flip out and beat up…the guy who played Steven Hawking. With a pipe. Why not just give her a rabid puppy to throw off a cliff? Meanwhile WereTatum portal-cuts a fucking dragon to the death. Seriously, why was this movie not just called Caine? He’s the only remotely rounded character I saw, he’s got the mysterious backstory and everything!
The resolution actually sounds more like a Disney channel show than a dramatic film. A young woman in a working-class environment is secretly the queen of the Universe and owner of the Earth and has to go about her daily life while still dealing with intergalactic mercenaries, he wolfman alien boyfriend, and space bureaucracy. Which, might actually be a better show that this was a movie.
Still, I can hold hope. Maybe this will be the opposite of the Wachowskis’ famed Matrix series. They start out with crap that makes no narrative sense and everyone hates, and then the sequels they scrape together end up being timeless classics that are revered for science fiction fans for years to come!
Or, we just move on to something else. That could also be good. In any case, you missed the mark on this one, Hollywood, but keep trying. We really don’t get enough original sci-fi these days, so don’t think the answer is to give up. The answer is to not suck so damn much.