As always with my She Geeks recaps and reviews: spoiler heavy.
Facts about me:
I love space.
I love Science Fiction.
I love space operas.
I love campy.
I love melodramatic, over-the-top anything.
Throw a romance in there anywhere, and it’s a recipe for me to fangirl until the end of days.
I’ve seen a lot of people talking about Jupiter Ascending since it came out, but reactions were mixed, so I kept putting off watching it. Betty ended up renting it from OnDemand last week, making my mind up for me, so I was like, “Fuck it. Okay. We’re doing this” and settled in to be mildly horrified.
Oh my God, y’all. Oh my God.
There’s something else you should know about me upfront: I don’t give a fuck about sophisticated. I don’t give one good damn about classics. You hand me the literary or cinematic equivalent of a fucking Big Mac, and I’m gonna eat the hell out of it. I’m gonna eat the hell out of it and never stop to consider the calories because, oh my sweet Lord in heaven, so good. And Jupiter Ascending is exactly that. A got dang space Big Mac with extra special sauce and cheese. It is awful. It is ridiculous. It’s almost so ridiculous it dips into parody territory and you’re like, “surely they’re not being serious right now?” But they are. Oh, they are. This was a movie that almost took itself too seriously at times, handing us things like bees that can sense space queens with an absolutely straight face, and it was absolutely better for it.
Oh my God, the calories. The transfat. The ingredients that did not originate in nature. So many questionable things. WHO GIVES A DAMN. IT’S FUCKING DELICIOUS.
There were some problems, of course there were, because nothing so precious can ever be entirely perfect. And I’m going to talk about these things in list form, because I’m a girl who believes in discussing problematic things, even, no, especially, if I like them. Also lists. I’m a pretty big believer in lists:
1.) Space is pretty whitewashed and that was depressing. SciFi is one area I feel has the ability to be consistently more diverse than others. If we can be handed aliens, space ships, and advanced technology, surely we can handle seeing black and brown folk up in there too. And there was some notable characters, don’t get me wrong. Diomika Tsing is the Captain of the Aegis ship (think Space Cops, those who haven’t watched) and it was fabulous seeing a black female calling the shots. But for the most part, it was all white people taking up most of the screen time.
Though, I will say, Jupiter’s family is Russian, and done so in a way that feels authentic and necessary, while also just being and that’s something I absolutely love to see. Characters who are diverse just because they are and not to serve as some bigger plot point. Because their stories are necessary and should be told, simply because they’re theirs. Jupiter was a Russian immigrant because she was. Period.
2.) I wish I could have seen Jupiter have a little more agency. For most of the film, it felt like everyone was like, “hey. Stand here and do this” and Jupiter was like, “What? Okay.” I can make some allowances for this after the big Hey Guess What, Intelligent Life is Out There, In Fact We’re Smarter Than You because, I mean, there’s a learning curve there and I think most people would take a minute to find their footing and either trust the Space People they’re with too much or not enough. But even at the beginning of the movie, she just kinda goes along with whatever anyone tells her to do. She’s passive, is what I’m saying here. But it does highlight her choice to go after her family near the end that much more because she’s like, “Yooooo. Check this. Making a choice here and it’s mine to make. I’m outtie.”
In saying that, her being passive with her family does speak, in my opinion, to her family dynamics/socioeconomic status. These are working class poor folks, in the country either illegally or with a work visa, with a head of operations, who is responsible for finding the work. So, it could be passivity, or it could be a show of respect to defer to the head of the house/one who cuts the paycheck.
3.) Hers and Caine’s relationship felt — rushed in some ways. This could be totally my preference because, while I love a fast, messy, love-at-first sight story, I’m a bit obsessed with a delicious slow burn relationship. That being said, it’s Channing fucking Tatum and he’s a got dang WOLF-HUMAN ANGEL HYBRID WITH MOTHERFUCKING SPACE ROLLERSKATES. So who can even blame Jupiter for trying to hit that like the fist of an angry God from the get? NOT ME. NEVER ME. GET YOUR WOLF-BOY, GIRLFRIEND.
(I like how I’m over here saying, “let’s discuss all these problems and I’m simultaneously gonna defend them too.)
4.) There were places it felt as though they dragged out the action at the sake of story. But don’t get me wrong. The action scenes were on point and the camera angles during them were interesting. They really emphasized the badassery of Caine’s EMEFFING SPACE ROLLERSKATES. Which was a solid move, but they left a big question for Caine’s character unanswered. Why did he attack the Entitled? I mean, this was an important thing! It was his motivation for literally the entire movie. First, why he took this job from Titus, then, why he hesitated with Jupiter romantically once he found out she was a Recurrence. Betty pointed out they may include that if there’s a second one (omg. Is there gonna be a second one? Google is unclear on this. PLEASE LET THERE BE A SECOND.) but, I mean, it was relevant to this movie so it’d have been nice for it to be addressed in this movie. Honestly, it could have stood to be a little longer overall. Keep the action, without forsaking necessary storytelling.
5.) There were parts that felt a little handwavey. Betty kept asking about Jupiter’s inheritance. We know she got Earth, but was there anything else? Will Balem’s death affect hers and the other siblings’ cuts? How’s that gonna work big picture? The science, likewise, was also a little DON’T LOOK TOO CLOSE, but it was nothing that pulled me from the story in the moment, but did make me wonder later.
So, like I said, it has its problems. It’s not perfect, and that’s without even touching on things like the score, which was overwhelming at times, or Eddie Redmayne’s performance, which was so over the top, one has to wonder if maybe he was like, “I’m gonna see what I can get away with here” only to find out no one was paying close enough attention to stop him.
(I say that, but he truly was one of my favorite characters. Oh, my sweet, unhinged bb. Shine on, you crazy diamond you.)
In saying all that, here’s what I absolutely fucking love about this movie the most. The same thing I love about Labyrinth, and Romance: It’s total Female Wish Fulfillment. A cleaning girl who finds out she’s queen of the freaking planet? Who gets a got dang WOLF-HUMAN ANGEL HYBRID WITH MOTHERFUCKING SPACE ROLLERSKATES boyfriend? Who the entire everything revolves around? Hell. Yes. I will forever defend Female Wish Fulfillment stories, even when I personally hate them. I mean, come on. The dude’s get to have that constantly. The Chosen One. The Superhero. The Only Hope. The Savior. Damn near every form of entertainment, in every genre outside of romance, is a total circle-jerk of Straight White Dudes Being Important and it’s never blinked at. But anything that even hints at that same level of Wish Fulfillment for ladies gets scoffed at.
Fuck that, I say. Fuck that SO hard. Straight to the depths of a raging space hurricane.
Jupiter got to be all the things the dudes always are. She got the planet, she got the hottie, and the plot revolved around her for the entire thing. She was center stage. She was the one pursuing the relationship with Caine, and, in the end, she saved the day AND GOT A SWEET ASS PAIR OF SPACE ROLLERSKATES. Jupiter got to do what so many of us girls, cleaning or otherwise, want to. She got to be the most important. And I want to see that shit. I always want to see that shit. Especially in campy space opera form.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some bees to find. Apparently they can sense royalty. I’m trying to find out if I’m queen of the planet after all before I have to go clean a few toilets.