Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Jupiter Ascending

This movie was more fun than you can shake a stick at. It's gorgeous, it's sprawling, but most of all it's just fun. I'd been told not to expect too much from the plot, and I did think it was a little bit convoluted, but the actual explanation for why Jupiter (Mila Kunis) was considered so special was more creative and interesting than I expected. Oh, and before I forget to mention it: this is definitely worth seeing on the big screen (and we also enjoyed seeing it in 3-D).

The premise of this movie is that Jupiter Jones, a Russian immigrant whose father was killed during her mother's pregnancy, is chafing against her unglamorous life, which consists of cleaning rich people's houses along with her extended family. She's shocked to learn that several different extraterrestrial factions are pursuing her because she is somehow royalty, and she has to learn quickly how to maneuver among some very experienced manipulators. Then there's action and ships flying around and blowing up and love brewing, and that's about it. It was plenty.

(Spoilers below)

Some of the elements I enjoyed in particular:

- The fact that the main character is named Jupiter Jones, because that's the name of the main character in the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series books I read as a kid.

- The bees. When Caine (Channing Tatum) goes to find Stinger, I assumed the hundreds of beehives were there because Stinger was trying to help with our environmental bee crisis, but instead the bees actually served a purpose within the plot.

- The costumes, oh my lord, the costumes! Jupiter's gowns are slightly less theatrical (aside from that wedding headpiece) but at least as beautiful as Queen Amidala's. I was also taken with the idea of a wedding where the guests wear white and the bride and groom wear white and blood red. (I don't think that could happen in the U.S. very easily since men rarely own white clothes, but I could see a wedding where the female guests wear white and the men wear black, and the bride and groom wear red.)

- Sean Bean as Stinger Apini. Because... Sean Bean.

- The fact that when Jupiter is attracted to Caine, she pursues it instead of just waiting for him -- yet she doesn't try and use her position to force him if he's not into her.

- The aliens because they actually looked alien -- especially the reptilian creatures with wings.

- Nikki Amuka-Bird as the kick-ass Captain Diomika Tsing. We need more female characters like this in science fiction, where it's taken for granted that they belong in positions of power too.

- The fact that there's a refinery inside the planet Jupiter's atomsphere unbeknownst to us, and that the extraterrestrials open a shielded vortex through the Great Red Spot to get there.

- James D'Arcy, also known as Jarvis from Marvel's Agent Carter, as Jupiter's father. I love him as Jarvis, but that character is so upright and serious that the actor seems older than he is; here, we get to see his gorgeous smile and some energy, and it makes him young and appealing.

- Did I mention Sean Bean? He's pretty much Han Solo in this film -- I almost expected him to go swooping into the Great Red Spot after Caine at the last moment. But that would have been too obviously Han Solo, so right call, I think.

- The fact that for no reason except that it's fun, the galactic bureaucracy that is the Title Claims Office operates in funky steampunk mode rather than using the shiny high-tech that is apparent everywhere else.

Things I Might Have Changed:

- I feel pretty strongly that Mila Kunis should have gotten top billing over Channing Tatum.

- I expected more explanation for Caine's checkered history -- I assumed the entitled he attacked was one of the Abrasax family, but I don't think that was confirmed.

- I thought that Balem's part was overacted a bit, but I attribute that to direction rather than to the actor. I liked the wispy voice, but the sudden shouting seemed a little too Gary-Oldman-over-the-top to me. That said, Eddie Redmayne did a great job in the part.

- I actually did like the music (Michael Giacchino) quite a bit, but I felt like it overwhelmed the movie at times, as though it was trying too hard. I want to be aware of film music, but I don't want it to force me to keep noticing it when it's an actual distraction from the story.

- There were several lines of dialog I simply couldn't understand, and I suspect I'll miss them on a second viewing. I'm glad that DVDs have captions available these days!

On an odd note, this is the first time I have ever seen the following notice in movie credits. It went something like this: "No person or entity associated with this film received payment or anything of value, or entered into any agreement, in connection with the depiction of tobacco products."

Has anyone else ever seen this before? In poking around online, I found this website for "Smoke Free Movies", which discusses the product placement that the tobacco industry has long been known for.

Bravo! I definitely recommended this movie. More of them should be this fun!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I finally got to see the whole movie - I had seen much, but not all in a plane coming back from an SF convention.

I think the the question about the tobacco use:
I have seen some movies that were rated as PG-13 - simply because they had tobacco use in them. It seems that they are really cracking down on any depiction of tobacco.

I also agree on the top billing statement. She was what the movie was all about.

I did enjoy the movie overall.