Jupiter Descending

Jupiter Ascending is currently playing in theaters

Jupiter Ascending

 

Jupiter Ascending (2015) РRated PG-13

In a bright and colorful future, a young destitute caretaker gets targeted by a ruthless son of a powerful family that live on a planet in need of a new heir, so she travels with a genetically engineered warrior to the planet in order to stop his tyrant reign.”

I was blown away by Jupiter Ascending. Sadly it was not in a good way. I adored the Wachowskis’ Cloud Atlas and though it was one of the best films of that year even if the science fiction segments were the weakest link. This caused me to have hope for Jupiter Ascending and yet, where Cloud Atlas was imaginative and heartfelt, Jupiter Ascending is an utter mess.

We begin with the beautiful Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) scrubbing toilets. I mention beautiful because she in no way appears to be the destitute maid/cleaner that the movie would like to portray her as (and that toilet didn’t really need cleaning). This is the equivalent of the high school movies about the ugly duckling who takes off her glasses, lets down her hair, and is suddenly the prom queen.

Intergalactic Skate Boy (TM) Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) arrives to rescue her from mysterious space baddies out to capture or kill her. The Wachowskis clearly wanted to make this a Silver Surfer movie but lacked the rights. Finding himself outnumbered, he seeks help from former colleague, Stinger Exposition (Sean Bean).

Jupiter finds that she is the reincarnated heir to the galactic throne currently shared by three siblings, Female Exposition Abrasax (Tuppence Middleton), Male Exposition Abrasax (Douglas Booth), and Screaming Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne). As you might guess from my description, there is a LOT of exposition in the movie.

The movie flow is Exposition dump – action sequence – pretty scenery – rinse and repeat. There is actually only one scene that does not fit that mold and is so out of place, it feels lifted from another movie. That sequence is a wonderful Catch-22 involving the paperwork behind Jupiter’s birthright. It is surreal and good for a laugh. The problem with it is that it IS actually lifted from another film, Brazil to be precise. The Wachowskis can call it an homage though because they stuck Terry Gilliam in it with a wink and a nod.

I applaud them for replacing the Bondian unnecessarily slow dipping mechanism with an unnecessarily slow rising mechanism. Beam me up, Scotty but feel free to take several minutes to do so. I’m surprised that the characters didn’t look at their watches or tap their feet as they rose.

Also the villains are confounded by Caine’s shoes but never take them away from him. Why not let him keep a gun, too? Hilariously, in the third act (VERY VAGUE SPOILER), it appears that the villain has honestly, and ridiculously, chosen to live in what amounts to a glass house. How this person survived so long is a question for the ages.

The movie is very pretty but is effectively Cloud Atlas’ Matrix Revolutions. You know, the two Matrix sequels made by the Wachowskis that made you question whether The Matrix was actually as brilliant as you thought it was.

 

American Psycho 2 – Second Verse Same as the First week

This week I have decided to cover the unjustly derided vehicle known as the sequel. This is Second Verse Same as the First week. American Psycho 2 is currently available on instant Netflix.

PASS: American Psycho 2 (2002) – Rated R for violence and language.

“Patrick Bateman is dead, but his evil legacy continues with Rachael Newman (Mila Kunis), the only victim who managed to escape Batemans grasp. Rachael will get rid of anyone who threatens her chances of becoming teaching assistant to the infamous Dr. Daniels, a professor and former FBI profiler. In a world where the stakes are higher and sex can kill, terror lurks in the new American Psycho.”

“This girl has no concept of reality.”

Okay this week we have covered sequels that do not suck and some that surpass their originals. Now we have one that I like to call a SINO – sequel in name only.

American Psycho was an absolutely brilliant satire. While the book by Bret Easton Ellis did make for good satire, most of the laurels deserve to be thrown at the feet of writer/director Mary Harron who did a brilliant job of punching up the material and directing an incredible performance by Christian Bale.

American Psycho 2 begins with a teenage Rachael killing off Patrick Bateman in a scene that is remarkable only for its cheesiness. This opening scene does not bode well for the picture.

American Psycho 2 also errs by being a bit too obvious. Our second victim, a bureaucratic ninny is beaten to death with her prominently displayed employee of the year award. To facilitate the “American” portion of American Psycho, Mila Kunis wears a red, white and blue All-American Girl shirt.

The funny thing about American Psycho 2 is that, apart from the brief opening scene and a later reprise, it does not feature any of the characters from American Psycho. It also does not fit tonally or thematically with the first film.

American Psycho 2 would actually have been much better if you cut the first scene altogether and renamed the film something like Killer T.A. It is basically a B Bad Girl movie a la Poison Ivy / Wild Things / etc.

Basically if you can completely ignore the American Psycho connection then this film can be a fun guilty pleasure. If you cannot do that then you will not enjoy the film. Also this film is played as a comedy instead of a satire.

Mila Kunis is likable but certainly no Christian Bale. William Shatner is not actually in that much of the movie and does not have much to do except flirt with Lindy Booth. Lindy is wonderful but does not have much of a part. After seeing her performances in Dawn of the Dead and Cry Wolf, I would have preferred seeing her as the psycho.

I rate this as a pass but it can certainly be enjoyable in the right mood. As a sequel to American Psycho though, it is terrible.

People Watch: Robin Dunne who plays Brian here can currently be seen as Dr. Zimmerman on Sanctuary.