Saturday, February 07, 2015

The Wachowskis Has Another 'Speed Racer' With 'Jupiter Ascending'

When Jupiter Ascending was still in its promotion stage, I felt that it’s going to be another major sci-fi movie, regardless of being good or bad, that will suffer the same fate as John Carter and Edge of Tomorrow – a commercial failure, a critical failure, or both.  With the movie now at least a week in theaters, I am turning out to be right.  It is being panned by most critics, and profit projections aren’t looking good.  

But the thing is, Jupiter Ascending has also turned out to be like John Carter and Edge of Tomorrow in another way.  I liked those two movies.  And, despite its problems, I liked Jupiter Ascending, too.

And that’s what I mean by comparing Jupiter Ascending with another Wachowski movie, Speed Racer, in the title.  That movie didn’t fare well commercially and critically, but I adored it.  Now, I don’t adore Jupiter Ascending – I know of its flaws and understand where the critics’ negative reception of it is coming from – but I did enjoy it overall.       

Jupiter Ascending has a lot of terrific things going for it.  It was innovative in its theme and premise – a “Cinderella” story of galactic proportions involving disturbing, ultra-futuristic economics, technology, and practices.  The visuals are stunningly jaw-dropping.  It established an interestingly rich mythology.  It didn’t lack of exciting action sequences.  There were even two or three genuine humorous situations that honestly cracked me up.  And I love Channing Tatum’s anti-grav boots and every scene they’re in.     

However, while Speed Racer was almost perfect, at least in the sense of the delivery of the Wachowskis’ intended approach for it, Jupiter Ascending never really tapped on its optimum potential.   Now, I can think of two reasons why it is so:
a.) The seemingly failure of the Wachowskis to mine all those awesome things about this movie in executing an epic story.  Again, the potential is readily available.  There’s an apparent epic story that can be made from those awesome ingredients available.  The character development, dialogues, and transition of plot points could have definitely been done better.    
b.) The inability of Mila Kunis to play a strong, likable lead character.  Jupiter Jones is not at all the kind of character you would be invested on and cheer for.  She’s not only featureless, but also kind of infuriating.  This is not at all only due to the subpar character developments done in this movie.  But, in my opinion, Kunis is just not equipped or committed to portray Jupiter Jones.   A notable lead character would have done wonders to the story, regardless of quality. 

Nonetheless, again, I really enjoyed Jupiter Ascending overall.  For me, the positive things about the movie still outweigh the negative things, no matter how weighty they are.  Still a shame, though, that it could have been much, much better.    

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