Wow. I don't think I could have picked a more fangirl-tastic movie for my first review on this site. In fact, I didn't really pick it, the internet picked it for me. I've been hearing buzz (haha, get it, buzz, because BEES are a subplot!) about this thing on the internet since it was released, and it all amounted to: this move is insane, but amazing, you must see it now.
The internet, for once, was right. Jupiter Ascnding really is that first self-insert fantasy fic you wrote when you were twelve, just with a $100 million budget. But it's also a lot more than that. There's a popular trope in movies like The Lego Movie, Wanted, Avatar, Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief, and even, yes, The Matrix. It's the story of a how an average guy is plucked from his average life because he is secretly destined to save the world. Usually this guy is assisted by a kick-ass female who should have saved the word all on her own, but is reduced to a love interest whose sole purpose is to save the chosen one.
That's the exact plot of Jupiter Ascending, it just happens that the genders are reversed and Mila Kunis, and her gorgeous eyebrows, are 300% more expressive than Keanu Reeves.
Critics were hard on this movie, but I think unjustly so. Maybe because it's about a woman not a man. Yes, the story is insane, yet oddly predictable, but there's also so much in this movie to love and admire. From a simple, film-making perceptive, the Wachowskis definitely succeed where we know they will: putting beautiful things on screen and making them move in beautiful ways. That's to say that the costumes, cinematography and art design are amazing. Some of the chases and action sequences, particularly the first one over the city of Chicago, are too long and very hard to follow. But in general these filmmakers paint some glorious cinematic pictures. This movie uses CG to create fantastic worlds with actual life to them that put the bland landscapes of gorgeous Lucas and James Cameron to shame.
Jupiter Ascending also continues with the Wachowski theme (as seen in The Matrix and another weird, pretty movie, Speed Racer) that human life, family, and individuality are more important than order and corporate profit. The reason Jupiter succeeds is because it gives us fun, human characters to root for and against in the midst of all this philosophizing. Mila Kunis is charming in this role, and her hero's journey had me completely rooting for her at the end. I was also surprised by how much I liked Channing Tatum's canine space soldier character. I adored Maria Doyle Kennedy in pretty much anything she does, so I loved seeing her as Jupiter's mother...and then there was Eddie Redmayne.
Years from now, we will look back at 2015 as the defining year of Eddie Redmayne's career, not just for the "oscar" he won but for his creation of the most amazingly weird and creeptastic villain I've seen on screen in a good long while. Marius, you've come a long way.
The sheer camp of Redmayne's performance is something to behold, but it's one of the many startlingly original details that makes Jupiter Ascending such a fun ride. Add it to the list that includes: Life-saving space rollerblades. Channing Tatum spending about 20 minutes shirtless for no reason except to have him shirtless. Sean Bean is apparently part bee and his name is Stinger. Grey aliens are monitors on earth and like to wipe peoples' memories. Magic Tattoos! Double Oedipal weirdness! SPACE GARGOYLES. BEES!
Jupiter also scored points with me, and with fandom, by making a clear point of populating it's world with diverse actors and giving us several interesting female side characters. The narrative, while maybe not perfectly feminist, is empowering, because Jupiter does, in the end, take back her agency and saves herself, and the world, by not compromising who she is, as well as making the point that she is not a substitute for another woman, but her own person.
All in all I would highly recommend this movie, especially to fangirl types, because in many ways this is the movie that checks every inconceivable box on our wishlists, and it shouldn't be laughed at or ignored just because of space rollerblades and bees.