Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: Jupiter Ascending

Have you ever wanted to see Flash Gordon enter the Matrix?  Now may be your chance.

"Jupiter Ascending" is a fun ride with amazing visuals, awesome fight scenes, big music, and epic action.  However, this all comes at a price.  The plot is both confusing and amazingly thin.  So much so, that I would expect many to walk away from the theater unsatisfied.  If, on the other hand, you're looking for a no-brainer movie with action and eye candy, then you'll most likely love this movie.

The movie starts out very well as we witness the birth of Jupiter.  But then as soon as the title splash screen appears, everything goes to plaid.  We witness three alien immortals discussing ... something.  Then for the next thirty minutes, I struggled to figure out what the heck was going on.  At many times, it felt like I was watching the 1980 version of "Flash Gordon," only with up-to-date special effects and much less male chauvinism.  At other times, it felt like "Matrix Revolutions" with its epic scenes and very similar CGI.

When the movie was over, I sat there pondering, "What exactly got accomplished?" while listening to Michael Giacchino's epic operatic score full of big instrumentation that screamed, "You just watched a big movie.  You just watched a big movie."  Unfortunately, I had to fight the urge to laugh out loud.

It could have been the biggest movie to hit the screen in a long time, but the writing basically killed it.  Let me give an example.  Near the beginning of the movie, Jupiter wants to buy this expensive telescope.  Her cousin (?) comes up with this idea for her to sell some of her eggs for $15K.  She goes in for an operation, using a pseudonym, and the story progresses.  Seems like such a simple concept to understand, but believe it not, it wasn't until an hour into the movie before I fully understood what she was doing.

There was a lot of "let's make the audience figure out what's going on."  Sure, this technique worked in "The Matrix," but that's only because we saw it all through Neo's eyes.  Neo was the one in the dark.

But with "Jupiter," the technique fails miserably, mainly because the audience knows that Jupiter knows what's going on, and it's the audience alone that's in the dark.  Had the writers simply explained at the very beginning why she was going in for an operation, there would have been less confusion, and a lot more emotional connection with the characters.

Yes, with just a few simple tweaks of the plot and dialogue, this movie would have been outstanding. And to think at how much attention they paid to other details!

With that said, I think the visuals, action, and lack of boring parts make it worthy enough to catch in the theater.  I saw it in 2-D, but I wish I had gone with 3-D IMAX.  That would have been awesome.

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