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Friday, 22 May 2015

Jupiter Ascending.

Jupiter Ascending.

Good clean space fun.

Excellent, that's that sorted out, on with the next review. 

Murphy douze points.

This is my end-of-review image that I put at the end of reviews.

Ugh, fine. Fine. 

Jupiter Ascending is the story of Jupiter, a young woman from an aggressively working-class immigrant family whose life is turned upside down when she discovers that she's the genetic reincarnation of an ancient queen, giving her the right to rule over all of space. As her past self's children set out to manipulate or kill her to preserve their claims, she comes under the protection of Caine, a genetically engineered space werewolf super-soldier who is pining after his lost wings.

Gosh, that is the most ridiculous thing I've written down all week, I love it. A+ job there, Jupiter Ascending. 

But I wasn't joking when I called the film 'good clean space fun', because that's essentially what it is: Fun. It's not deep, it doesn't have a deeper message, it's not really striving for any goal more lofty than a fourteen year old's Mary Sue fic (whether Jupiter or Caine is the Mary Sue in this scenario is entirely a matter of perspective, because they're both contending for that vaunted title), and I am absolutely fine with that.

After all, Jupiter Ascending does fun very well. It's gorgeous to look at, the story is sheer wish fulfillment without feeling obnoxious about it, the action scenes are great and there is never more than about six minutes between them, and the villains are marvelously hammy. I don't know what I enjoyed more, Eddie Redmayne's ABrupt MiDWOrd crIEs and suddenly changing between speaking softly and screaMING HIS LINES, or Douglas Booth and Tuppence Middleton's smirking and sneering. I could go either way, don't make me choose. 

Other cast members take their jobs a shade more seriously - Sean Bean giving an oddly naturalistic performance stands out like a sore thumb - but the general rule is that the entire cast has decided to go Full Ham on this one and gnaw on the scenery like it's their last meal.

(It's notable that one place where the film does aim high is in its costume and set design. Jupiter gets a positive fashion show's worth of elaborate dresses over the course of the film - very conspicuously, every villain's absolute first priority once she's in their clutches is to have her change into a new outfit - and they're all lovely. Equally nice to look at are the lavish space dining halls, space mansions, and in one case, improbably gigantic space cathedral. The design crew clearly put a lot of effort into their work, and I am filled with appreciation for that, because the film is a visual treat.

I'm not kidding about the dresses, though.

As conspicuous as Jupiter's parade of dresses is how all of Caine's outfits are seemingly made out of tissue paper, tearing if someone so much as breathes near him. I saw what you did there, Jupiter Ascending.)

I realise you might think I'm kidding about this dresses, so I wanted to take this
opportunity to remind you of how much I'm not kidding about how much all the villains
in this film make putting Jupiter in pretty clothes their first priority. 

But, you know, there is a place for that in cinema, especially when it's done well - and Jupiter Ascending is done well. It knows its goal, and it excels at reaching it, and the result is a film that I think that more or less everyone can enjoy and will probably be happily forgotten about in a - well, now, I think most people have already forgotten about it. Which is a shame, because as far as good clean space fun goes, Jupiter Ascending is better than Star Wars. 

Having said that, I'm not left with an awful lot to say. It aimed low, does what it wanted to do, and I appreciate both the unpretentiousness of that and the charmingly terrible film that resulted from it. In a film with higher aspirations, I could complain about any number of things, from every plot twist being sillier than the last to the fact that nobody thinks of taking Caine's hoverboots away from him when imprisoning him or throwing him out an airlock, but I feel like it would be disingenuous for me to level that kind of harshness at it - it would be like ordering a pizza and then complaining that it was bad for me.

I'm actually not sure how much clearer I can make this.

The biggest criticism I can level at it is that the film's ending, depicting Jupiter going back to her life on Earth, felt entirely wrong-headed. She's queen of the universe. Don't go back to your family on Earth, take your family to space where they will live a life of absolute luxury for the rest of their days. Honestly, this is a no-brainer, and I struggle to believe that anyone who's experienced poverty would actually willingly go back to it, especially when the alternative is a magical world of space joy. 

 Go see Jupiter Ascending, guys. It's the regret-filled junk food of films. Also, surprisingly short, so there is that. 

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