I think it is difficult sometimes to talk about the lower mid-range of movies. When I try to picture the person who would fawn over the Wachowski siblings Jupiter Ascending, consider it the best movie of all time, I draw a blank. However, for a movie in the basement in terms of critic ratings, sitting at 40% and 23% at the Meteoritic and Rotten Tomatoes respectively, I think it might not be too late to ask for a quick adjustment to the common wisdom.
I want to be clear, Jupiter Ascending is not a GOOD movie. It doesn’t have particularly good acting, or script, or score. The world building is best described as needlessly ornate, and honestly a clear succinct explanation for the people, events, and creatures thrown up on the screen would have been appreciated. Alas, long gone are the days where the ideas embedded within Morpheus’ monologue could be almost as awesome as the fight scenes.
Allowing for all that, though, I’m left with a distinct impression of that movie, which is I had a good time. Now, I am a sci fi fan. I enjoy subreddits filled with as many beautiful spacecrafts and dystopian cityscapes as I can stand. So, in a sense, if there is a target audience for this movie, I am firmly situated within that auditorium. With that in mind, I had a good two hours. The action was exciting, tense, and for the most part benefited from some spectacular special effects. The big complaint I have about those scenes is that they suffer from the bloat found in many recent SFX heavy movies. There are only so many times we can see fancy space crafts zipping between Chicago sky-scrapers or pieces of burning ore facility crashing through the Great Red Spot of Jupiter.
But that’s just the thing. I can’t remember ever seeing anything quite like this movie before. It certainly shares elements with previous Wachowski movies, including inevitable comparisons with the original Matrix. But, it also has it own elegant, highly saturated style - maybe David Lynch’s Dune mixed with Lord of the Rings. I’d say this movie could be someone’s guilty Netflix pleasure except you really need a large screen and impressive sound system to get the most out of it. If it’s still showing around you, and you’ve caught up on all the Oscar bait you care to for the moment, give Jupiter Ascending a second look. It’s an interesting artifact of the almost-good, like a nonsensical dream that doesn’t quite survive the process of translation after waking up.
It is in a word, diverting.