This weekend I went to see the new movie Jupiter Ascending, and I have a lot of mixed feelings about.
First off, Jupiter Ascending is a movie I could just stare at for hours. The visual style and the art is just overwhelming and it perfectly hits that grandiose Sci-Fi sweet-spot for me. It’s exactly the kind of thing I could spend hours staring at, like some computerized rendering out of an old issue of Heavy Metal. Of the movies I’ve seen recently, Jupiter Ascending best drives home for me the fact that film is very much a visual medium. If they took this movie and turned it into a series of panoramic shots of the scenery and the spaceships with Sean Bean’s voice-over narration of what everything was, I would have still walked away happy. That being said, the story of Jupiter Ascending is one of the most fucking disappointing things I’ve ever seen.
But here’s the kicker: the story isn’t bad. No really hear me out on this one, because I’m about to say something that I rarely say about anything.
This movie should have been a trilogy. Unlike the Matrix films which were unnecessarily stretched out over three films for ostensibly poor reasons, Jupiter Ascending tried to do too much in a single film.
Boy are the Wachowskis bad at their pacing.
Jupiter Ascending sets up with three incredibly powerful galactic siblings who, over the course of the movie, each vie to manipulate and control, through various means, the main character Jupiter, Mila Kunis. Because each sibling needs time to interact with Jupiter, her encounters with the three siblings are each very abridged and rushed so that the film simply has Jupiter awkwardly stumbling between her encounters. The Wachowski’s could have easily broken this up across three movies, and I know this because the work was literally already done for them, because Jupiter Ascending’s plot actually follows the same story, almost point for point, as a trilogy by pulp writer Michael Moorcock’s Sword Series of book from the early 1970’s.
I’m not even joking. Michael Moorcock pretty much wrote Jupiter Ascending for the Wachowski Brothers in 1971.
Moorcock wrote about the Hero-Prince, Corum Jhaelen Irsei, and his struggle to defeat a trio of incredibly powerful, god-like siblings. Corum encounters each sibling in turn and defeats each one through varying means before freeing his world from their creepy, Big-Bad-Evil-Guy Tyranny. Moorcock broke his work into three easily digestible pieces, that would have translated easy-peasy to screenplays, and the parallel is pretty uncanny to Jupiter Ascending in both the weird Ambience and the story structure.
So I can see exactly how the movie could have been stretched, see how the gaps could have been filled, and how the pacing should have worked. As it stands, I’m just left feeling hollow at seeing a story I read as a child regurgitated to me in a condensed, rushed, and hap-hazard manner.