I haven't written a scathing review in a while. Most of the stuff I've been watching lately, when I've had the chance, has been relatively quite good, and this has pleased me no end. But then I saw the trailers for Jupiter Ascending and I saw that the Wachowskis had put their name to it, both as writers, producers and as directors... and I instinctively knew that this was it; their moment of reckoning, so to speak.
To date, in my opinion, the Wachowskis have made maybe 1.5 good movies. Everything else has fallen far short of the mark, and given the amount of money that was being sunk in to this particular film, not to mention the amount of name dropping involved, this was going to be a defining film for them.
If I needed to sum up in one sentence my thoughts on this science fiction action / adventure romp, it'd go something a little along the lines of,
'Who do I get those two hours of my life back, you thieving, useless fucks.'
Seriously, how? What the Hell did I do to them to warrant being subjected to what is perhaps one of the flimsiest excuses for a 'Twilight in Space' cattle prod to the eyes. I honestly don't believe there was a single semi-original motif in the film, inlcuding the horrid attempt at a fuedal aristocracy like that of Dune (but these lot are all related folks), 'stargates', Captain America's Shield, Flash Gordon wedding complete with a 'lightning field' attempt to prevent the hero from getting to her in time, the occasional Star Wars motif, the crowd clothing of the Hunger Games, an excruciating reminder of Shyamalan's Signs, a mention of Firefly's 'The 'Verse', a half-hearted attempt at anthropomorphic characterisation from a hundred anime titles and perhaps the most blatent selection of video game art rip offs EVER!
Don't believe me? Take a look at Tatum! That's not a dog ear, that's a freakin' Space Elf gone horribly wrong. And let's try to ignore that blond goatee and tragic make-up...
After successes with the likes of The Matrix, you'd think if there was one thing they would be able to get right under the circumstances it would be the CGI... but not today. Some the CGI was so forced that the suspension of disbelief was simply so distant some scenes became almost akin to nails on a chalk board in their incompetence to hold a scene together. They've even managed to get in some thoroughly competent actors, including Sean Bean (who clearly is having a hard time given half a toot about the role he's playing and evidently had some spare time availble), Channing Tatum (who I don't mind and is an excellent choice for fight choreography) and Mila Kunis. Kunis, whose vocal talents resonate with fans of Family Guy, not to mention a half dozen other prominent projects, has more than a fair range of expression but in the film she's stuck with two emotional states: near constant confusion and an almost Kristen Stewart level gormlessness when trying to seduce Tatum several times through the film, to no apparent avail.
That's right... Eddie Redmayne. The only person that actually changes facial expression through the WHOLE movie... and he's not pretty in this film at all.
And looks like one of the Riddick Necromongers, right?
And this is just the aesthetic! Wait until you get to the part with the science... or distinct lack-thereof. The plot requires Kunis to fall in to hands of various ne'er-do-wells and then have Tatum's dog boy come rescue her in a hail of gunfire and a wall bouncing, whisked between sequneces with spaceships and other fancy gizmos with absolutely no thought for continuity or plot consistency, all because she's actually the reincarnated queen who was murdered some time back because blah blah blah...
And despite having faster than light travel, the tech to create biotech wings, provide personal anti-gravity fields, thermal and kinetic barriers, hide massive colony plates in the Red Spot of Jupiter (despite the crushing gravity and horrific radiation), clone people to an outrageous level, genetically engineer and / or modify pre-embrionic DNA, weaponise energy in to a hand-held device, have access to the equivalent of nano-tech and evidently have discovered how to harness astonishing levels of power for the use in all of the above, the bad guys need to harvest skin from inhabited planets. That's right. They don't need our water, have the capacity to travel across the gulfs of space and can actually design organisms but they have to turn up to a planet and harvest the people because... they... ummm... because they're all assholes, alright!
In fact, the story is so weak that I managed to count no less than 15 times in the movie that any character could have solved ALL of their problems by merely shutting the Hell up and shooting the person they already have dead-to-rights in the face. That's assuming that the films first HOUR of exposition doesn't bore you utterly shitless in the meantime).
See what I mean? Pull the trigger and save 7,325 billion lives you useless cow!
But the real kicker is the ending. So, ummm, spoiler alert, I suppose...
Kunis' character opens the film with a tragic 'Daddy got shot' story and then she grows up and cleans toilets with her family till she's whipped up in to space by dog boy and some nut jobs, sees Jupiter, discovers there's an intergalactic police force of just one ship, giant techno-worlds, alien landscapes and vistas that are supposed to be beautiful and amazing and so precious... oh, and she happens to be the Queen / CEO of the universe. Bit when all is said and done, and the bad guys are sorted out and the inheritance is racking up and she's got the power to stop worlds from being ransacked for skin harvesting.... she goes back to her family on Earth, wipes all their memories and continues to clean toilets with them, while snogging her winged dog boy from outer space on the roof.
You know, as opposed to getting them a sweet pad on some glorious moon somewhere. Because you're Queen / CEO / Whatever of the Universe.
Seriously, I'm going to be asking the folks who do the Cinema Sins to cover this one so I can share it later, because I think they're going to break the counter for this steaming pile of cow poop.
This is one of those films that I can't even recommend to a Twilight fan so they can get their cruddy romance fix. I wouldn't recommend it to the Furries because they'd be insulted by the distinct LACK of furriness (?). I couldn't recommend it as a sci-fi because it's sci-fi is nothing but an excuse to do some CGI enhanced wire acrobatics (if you're lucky) and nothing more. Hell, I couldn't even recommend it as a 'how not to...' because these are all rookie mistakes in story telling a film direction that simply wouldn't be made by anyone but M. Night Shyamalan and Uwe Boll!
For fuck's sake, they don't even kill off Sean Bean!
And then, despite making plenty of references to characters having wings because it made them in to super bad-asses, they dumped it despite it looking like this:
Didn't even make it to the cutting room floor.
So. The Wachowskis.
After revolting pieces of movie spam like Matrix Revolutions, the taudry V for Vendetta (don't agree? Read the Graphic by Alan Moore and THEN we'll talk), the hideous and entirely poor Cloud Atlas, followed by this, it's in my opinion that The Matrix was a massive accident and that the Wachowskis are, in fact, utterly off the mark with their projects and needs to reel it in and stop trying to explain life, the universe and everything to everyone else through fantastical Buddhist analog parodies.
In short, folks, don't watch this film. It's so bad, you'll watch it to the end in the vain hope that the train-wreck will not leave a bad taste in the back of your mind later... but it will.
Just don't do it...