Friday, February 6, 2015

Jupiter Ascending [2015]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  ChicagoTribune (2 Stars) (2 Stars)  AVClub (B)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing listing* listing*

CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (M. Zoller Seitz) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

Jupiter Ascending [2015] (written and directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski [en.wikip]) is one often "heavy" and at times "strange" film.  Perhaps this shouldn't surprise anyone, however, since it comes from the same siblings that made The Matrix [1999-] [IMDb] [en.wikip] films.

Indeed, since one of the film's main characters, Caine Wise (played by hunky Channing Tatum), is a genetically engineered "dog man" kinda like similarly hunky Taylor Lautner's more traditional werewolf Jacob in the Twilight [2008] [IMDb] [en.wikip] series -- a good summary of the basic concept behind the story could be "The Matrix meets the Twilight Saga."  

Then throw in a little bit of Dune [1984], a dash of The Terminator [1984] / Blade Runner [1982] and Guardians of the Galaxy [2014] (the Wachowski siblings apparently did a stint writing for Marvel Comics [en.wikip]) only "straight" this time (that is, "without the laughs..." ;-), and voilà ... the current film:

The current film's heroine is a young Chicago based (the Wachowskis are from Chicago) "nobody" "under the radar" / "illegal" Russian immigrant "cleaning lady" named Jupiter Jones (played by Mila Kunis).  Why that name?  Well, because her parents originally living in St. Petersburg, he English, she Russian, were "kinda intellectuals" before they had to flee (and of course he didn't make it, because if he did, they'd be in England now, and part of Jupiter Jones' sad / tragic back story that "she didn't have papers" would not have been an issue ...).

But who does Jupiter remind one of?  She's basically Kristen Stewart's Bella of Twilight [2008] crossed with Linda Hamilton's Sarah Conner of the original Terminator [1984].   Bella's story begins with her being a super-average high school student growing-up in an utterly unimportant small town "somewhere in the American Pacific Northwest," while Sarah Conner's story begins with her working as a lowly waitress at a Denny's / Bob's Big Boy establishment "somewhere in Southern California."  Jupiter's story begins ... washing toilets with her aunt and mother as part of an "under the radar" "cleaning service" in Chicago.

But of course, Jupiter's story -- like Bella's or Sarah Conner's turns out to be  -- _far from average_. Bella's life had turned-out to be "merely" WILDLY exciting, filled with clans of very rich/cultured vampires (who found the dreariness of the rainy Pacific Northwest "a good place to live discreetly") and tribes of shape-shifting Native American werewolves (who again found the mountains and forests of the Pacific Northwest a "good place to hide"),  while Sarah (Biblical name) became "the Mother of the future Savior of the World" John Conner (initials "J.C.").

Lowly, "stateless," cleaning lady "Jupiter" becomes important as well ... in a way that I can't really reveal here without massive spoilers.  But let's just say that she captures the attention of A LOT OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF SPACE ALIENS ("greys" , "reptilians" EVEN Thorlike "nordics" ... it's a veritable parade of races and characters that "History Channel" Ancient Aliens [2009-] [en.wikip] and UFO Hunters [2008-] [en.wikip] nerds (like myself ;-) will certainly enjoy ... while others will probably scratch their heads and wonder ... "why?" ;-)

She captures enough "extra-terrestrial" attention that she comes to require the assistance / protection (sort of) of the above-mentioned hunky "genetically engineered dog-man" Caine (LOL ... ;-).  Why the attention?  Oh, you'd really think I'd tell you ... :-) ... And ... well ... "much ensues" ... ;-)

Look, this is a film for "nerds" ... but like a lot of films that are released at this time of year (at least in the United States), it's NOT nearly "as bad" as what a lot of "less nerdy" movie critics would make it out to be.

The big question will be ... will the teen and tweenage girls who so loved the Twilight series find this "Star Wars" / "Dungeons and Dragon-y" / "Dune-ish" story, one which would seem more directed to their more nerdy Dungeons and Dragons playing / comic book collecting brothers ... appealing?  Or ever sympathetic / good looking (and frankly quite risk-taking) Mila Kunis notwithstanding, will they'll just roll their eyes and say ... "Whatever?" ;-)

That is, have the Wachowskis successfully built a bridge between "Barbie" and "Nerd"?  We'll see ;-)

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser. 

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