– After watching the Matrix Reloaded, I wrote off the Wachowskis as one trick ponies and never bothered to watch the conclusion to their trilogy or the movies they made afterward. What caused me to break that trend for Jupiter Ascending was a) it was a space opera, and b) the reaction it got: while most critics loathed it, the film seemed to get a more positive (or at least more polarized) reaction from more geeky moviegoers.
– Like the Matrix, Jupiter Ascending makes use of the revelation that the world mankind inhabits is actually under the control of more powerful beings – in this case, other human beings 100,000 years ago seeded Earth with human life for their own profit and gain. But unlike the Matrix, there isn’t any sub-Cartesian philosophizing or hackneyed prophecy that we have to put up with. Instead, Mila Kunis’ character is important to the plot because she happens to have the same genetic code as a deceased space princess, which in this world legally makes her entitled to said princess’ inheritance. Which includes ownership of Earth. Yes, this movie is about high stakes real estate.
– The plot is a mess which moves in weird spirals as opposed to a straight line. Characters who seem important suddenly disappear. “Mila Kunis gets rescued by Channing Tatum at the last possible moment,” gets lazily reused a lot. But for all that, I really, really liked Jupiter Ascending, because the Wachowskis approach it with a wacky, go-for-broke style which is far more entertaining than most of what is put out by Marvel. Incidentally, Tatum here is a wolf man who gets angel wings by the end of the movie.
– While you could argue that Guardians of the Galaxy is a tighter film, Jupiter Ascending is the better space opera. The Wachowski’s, unlike most filmmakers, actually understand the genre, and are willing to play its tropes with a straight face. I’d even go so far as to suggest that they, rather than Abrams, should be doing Star Wars VII.*
– Terry Gilliam makes a cameo in a sequence that pays homage to Terry Gilliam. That got me comparing the Wachowski’s to him. It may be the case that they, like Gilliam, trade in making baroque, elaborately bizarre movies that get misunderstood by critics and audiences. I’d need to dip more into their oeuvre to confirm.
– It’s also a more humanistic movie than a lot that’s out there. Sure, you could argue that its message about the evils of exploiting human life for profit gets a little heavy handed at times, but I found it refreshing.
*My prediction for that movie: enjoyable and workmanlike, but ultimately forgettable.