Oh, Wachowskis, how high you aim and how close you came to achieving something titanic.
As is, Jupiter Ascending is a fun midnight movie, like a crazy Roger Corman production with a mega budget and some next level action and VFX.
I enjoyed the ride for the most part, flaws and all.
What’s frustrating about the film is that the potential for a sci-fi classic is RIGHT THERE.
But a few key problems keep it from soaring to that level. It goes wrong in places where a film like The Fifth Element succeeds.
The main issue is Mila Kunis and her character Jupiter, the lead of the film.
Mila is cute and gives an okay performance, but I think the Wachowskis made a casting error here, along with a mistake in how the character is presented.
The film is sort of a sci-fi Cinderella and Wizard of Oz type story.
The problems is Jupiter is a late 20’s/early 30’s woman.
To me, Jupiter could have been a late teenager and her arc could have been a coming-of-age story, a girl who becomes a woman and starts to understand the weight of responsibility in the adult world.
She also could have had some edge or spunk to her, a sense of humor that made her fun to be around.
The character of Jupiter, as presented, is kind of dull.
She has no sense of awe or wonder at the scope of the universe presented to her. If she was a teenager who goes from innocence to maturity, and falls in love with the badass wolf-man who flies around on his gravity boots. It would be more romantic and charming, and the audience would like Tatum’s character a bit more.
I mean he’s awesome in the movie, but there’s not much chemistry between him and Kunis, so the romance, if one could even call it that, feels forced.
If an 18-year-old Milla Jovovich was in this movie as Jupiter, we would have a much better film.
The audience would love Jupiter. I liked Jupiter, but that’s not enough.
Personally, I would have prefered her to be more like Leeloo in The Fifth Element, at the very least.
The other issue is that Jupiter Ascending has 3 villains and one of them, Titus (Douglas Booth), is nowhere near as fun or interesting as the other two characters – Kalique (Tuppence Middleton, who is super great in a short amount of time) and Balem (Eddie Redmayne, who does an amazing Gary Oldman “Zorg” type performance, but with a more sinister whisper to his dialogue).
I loved Titus’s introduction – he’s having this zero-g orgy on his ship, it’s hilarious and brilliant – but he goes downhill after that and the 2nd act drags like crazy because of it. His whole wedding plan is a bore, and I kept wishing we had more time with either Kalique or Balem and his dinosaur henchmen instead.
But here’s why Jupiter Ascending still works.
It’s wild and imaginative and crazy. The film has space invader aliens, bounty hunter shoot-outs, a human/mouse who’s a lawyer (I think), Tatum fighting a goddamn flying dinosaur/lizard thing, a mad 6 or 7 minute homage to Brazil (maybe the best scene in the film, just perfect), starship pilots with Elephant noses, GORGEOUS production design and immensely detailed worlds and environments, and a chase sequence in Chicago between said alien invaders vs. Tatum on his flying gravity boots that has to go down as one of the most spectacular action/VFX sequences ever constructed.
That one scene…..is so good it actually does a bit of a disservice to the rest of the film, because there’s no way the rest of the action could top it. But it’s eye-popping. Just insanely well orchestrated action.
So all in all, I’d say it’s a cool, fun movie.
It’s not the groundbreaking pop-art aesthetic explosion of Speed Racer or anywhere near the first Matrix or Bound (their three classics), but I’ll revisit this more often than Cloud Atlas, a film I liked a lot and admire, but don’t love, and it’s way more inspired and entertaining than Matrix Revolutions was.
It coulda been a contender though.
Still, good stuff overall. I’d hate for this to be their last big Hollywood movie, but if it is, at least they went out trying to hit a grand slam.
PassMeThePopcorn.com contributor R.K. Priddy shares her Top Ten Movies of 2014. (Also check out editor Ray Manukay’s list of the year’s Best films here: http://www.passmethepopcorn.com/2015/01/13/the-best-movies-of-2014/ ).
Honorable Mention :
300: Rise of The Empire
Earth To Echo
X: Men Days of Future Past
In Memoriam: Night At The Museum Secret Of The Tomb
I have to qualify this as one of the best movies I saw this year merely because of the incredible loss I feel at the passing of Robin Williams. He was that actor when asked “Who is your favorite?” was never mentioned because he was the given. His talented and presence in cinema is unlike any others. Some may feel this movie, being the last time that you will see him on the screen, might not be fitting.
I am of the belief that it was perfect.
Fun magical, humorous yet played with such credibility you believed in the enchantment in only a way Mr. Williams could deliver.
You will be missed Mr. Williams thank you for making me laugh throughout my life when no one else could.
I like to put one comedy on my list. Something that made me laugh and giggle with my friends and family. Once again Tatum and Hill’s Bromance is a winning combination in a way that still shocks me. Going into a sequel you expect a bit of a let down. But in this sequel it was just as fun and perhaps a bit more witty than it’s predecessor.
When I saw the preview for this I dreaded it.
Mostly because of the way my son’s eyes lit up when he saw the trailer. Which left me to explain to him it would be a full year before it could even be seen in the theater. I wasn’t a Lego kid, however my son is. So I thought I would be mildly amused and would derive most of the pleasure of my movie going experience on watching my son’s glee. I never expected to be laughing so hard I would cry. With the voices of Morgan Freeman and Will Ferrell I should have known better.
Yes, of course I went there.
And yes those of you that know me knew I probably would. I am a huge supporter of those grown up Hogwarts Kids. And I have been honestly hoping and praying for a role like this for Radcliff. The strange thing about this movie is that his not well known co-star has landed on my list twice this year. This is my favorite kind of Romantic Comedy quirky and fun yet believable. For anyone who has ever taken a self imposed romantic exile this movie reminds you of how that felt the awkardness of stepping back into the game. Radcliff pull off this off leaving behind his Potter roots and helping him branch out to a actor and became “The Boy who Lived”…beyond his multi film franchise”
I know I am the last of perhaps a dying breed of Tom Cruise Fans. Yet, still I am a proud card carrying member of his flicks. One of the reasons why I liked this movie was honestly in the beginning I disliked the character. And I knew Cruise had the acting chops to play a morally bankrupt character finding his way down the road to becoming a hero. It isn’t like he hadn’t done it before. But the difference there wasn’t a complete transformation to a night in shining armor. Emily Blunt was especially impressive in this role for me. Because of again the departure of her typical roles. Of course the special effects and the storyline were both amazing.
O.k. I have to admit Bradley Cooper has seriously grown on me. He has proven he’s more than a pretty face or more than a one trick pony. His performance in this movie was gut wrenching and incredible. Once again Eastwood takes us on a journey that makes us feel perhaps a bit ashamed of ourselves. Watching Cooper’s portrayal of a man that does what few can do in service to our nation is incredible. As always Eastwood leaves a mark we didn’t see coming just as the credits role. Leaving the movie goer in stunned silence.
I have to admit I was more than surprised but this movie. Because I am not terribly fond of the actors in it but this movie as I have commented this movie was shocked that it didn’t receive more accolades. Cotillard, Renner and Phoenix were extraordinary in their roles. The visuals were breath taking. Just as in Gray’s Two Lovers you were left feeling fed and satisfied yet still aching.
Odd I know. It was my sleeper. As I scrolled through Netflix one sleeples night I found this gem written by Joss Whedon. As I said before for some reason Zoe Kazan has landed on my list twice. Everyone knows me I’m a sucker for a love story but not your average love story there has to be something unique about it. Something unlike anything else out there that I have seen. Again Whedon writes something ingenious and Brian Hill makes it come to life. Again this movie just took me by surprise. My biggest surprise of the year which is why it got ranked so high. Plus again there is the three minute and one second song “Trouble I’m In” from this movie that I can’t get off my I-Pod.
A Wes Anderson makes it near the top of my list…shocker I know. And again another repeated actress on my list. Swinton. Once again Wes Anderson takes us into his strange yet wonderous world within our world. This I have to say is probably Finnes’s best performance in years mixing him along side his usual band of merry men Murrary, Norton and Brody to name few.
This movie until a few days ago topped my list. Because well I’m a self professed and proud geek girl. I have read most of Hawkings book. And have always viewed him as a legend, a genius ,human man of course but not in any way tangible or relatible . Redmayne’s portrayal and transformation will no doubt help him toward hoisting more than one gold trophy up during this award season. The story is honest, brutal, heart breaking but provides insight to probably one of the most fascinating men of our generation.
Swinton check, Yelchin check, Hurt check, Jarmusch wait Jarmusch directing a vampire movie with a Bowie-esqse feel? Christopher Marlowe walking around in modern day society? Way way too good to be true surely I was in for a serious let down much to my shock and absolute glee it was nothing short of amazing. I hated for it to be over. I hate that years will more than likely past before I see yet another Jarmusch film. This movie while probably not on the top of most people’s lists, tops mine so many reasons. Jarmusch, the rock and roll storyline the entire feel of the film that has Jarmusch’s signature all over it. That couple with outstanding performances by Swinton, Hiddleston, Waikowska , Telchin and of course the incomparable Hurt. Makes me want to watch it again just thinking of it.
directed by PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON
Thomas Pynchon’s works are noted for their complexity, digressions and eccentric characters. All of those traits are present in the challenging and off-kilter Inherent Vice.
The film is an intentionally, awkward, mish-mash of genres that prefers to be absorbed rather than deciphered. Just when the viewer starts to get some semblance of the direction the story is taking us, Paul Thomas Anderson and Thomas Pynchon delightfully take the viewer down a different and more complex rabbit hole.
This is where the film can make it or break it for the viewer.
Although one can argue Inherent Vice fails to deliver a satisfying, traditional, and tidy cinematic story. The truth is Inherent Vice is more about the journey than the destination.
And it is a great journey. One that deserves and arguably requires repeat viewings to fully be appreciated.
directed by JIM JARMUSCH
I’d be hard pressed to come up with a genre more over-saturated in entertainment than vampires.
But director Jim Jarmusch still manages to add his own unique, eccentric spin to the vampire mythology. Less interested in the typical blood lust and super-powered abilities that most stories about the creatures focus on , Jarmusch examines the emotional and psychological price of immortality.
How torturous would it be for immensely educated, centuries-old cultured beings to exist in a world full of primitive, base and short-sighted, immature humans?
Putting aside the philosophical element of the film Only Lovers Left Alive is just a cool movie. Beautiful look, hip feel, and just an awesome overall uniquely Jarmusch vibe.
directed by JEREMY SAULNIER
Revenge. In all it’s bloody, complicated and sticky forms and consequences.
Arguably, some of the most suspenseful and thrilling cinematic sequences of the year.
The less the viewer knows about the film going in the better. I’ll simply say check it out.
directed by GARETH EVANS
At its core The Raid 2 features cops, robbers… and just plain, wicked, violent, gangster shit.
But story is not what one watches The Raid 2 for.
Super extended and elaborate fight sequences and thrilling non-cgi action make this the best pure action film of the year.
Don’t let the subtitles intimidate. Just pure, glorious, bloody action.
directed by JAMES GRAY
If the reader has never heard of the film The Immigrant I wouldn’t be surprised. Released without any promotional support…at all.. the movie came and went with barely a whisper.
The problem is that The Immigrant was a fantastic movie.
Not only does the film feature excellent performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant is also an absolutely gorgeous film.
I mean incredibly, stunning and jaw dropping production design. During my screening I literally paused the film mid-viewing just to admire the scenery and cinematography.
At one point I became convinced that director James Gray and his cast and crew took a time machine to 1920’s New York and shot this film.
Shamefully under-rated The Immigrant deserves to be seen and rightfully praised. Don’t let this film slip by.
directed by DAN GILROY
I am of the strong opinion that most television news is more harmful than helpful or even informative for that matter.
Nightcrawler confirms my beliefs.
Dan Gilroy’s look at exploitative network news is at once illuminating and morbidly thrilling. Featuring an excellent performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, the movie examines the relationship between news reporting and providing entertainment to the masses.
It is easy to blame the media for the seedy featured content shown nightly on news programs. But the truth is that we the audience feed that machine.
The villainous or arguably strangely heroic Lou Bloom, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is simply, good or bad, a product of this machine.
The film is likely not receiving the usual award season buzz because of its scathing critique of the media. But if one puts all that aside Nightcrawler is an excellent film that will leave the viewer thinking.
directed by CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
Much has been said about Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.
The truth is I don’t really have much more to add to that conversation other than to say Interstellar is a thrilling, fascinating and surprisingly touching movie.
I get where the negative criticism comes from. Interstellar can be dense with the science talk, and at times overly sentimental.
But there is no denying that it is an awe inspiring, thought provoking film, by a visionary director in Christopher Nolan that is at the top of his game.
directed by WES ANDERSON
Everyone knows what they are getting when they sit down to one of Wes Anderson’s films.
There are parodies everywhere of his distinct style.
But The Grand Budapest Hotel is likely a turning point for the director. Besides being his most mature film to date, The Grand Budapest Hotel displays the confidence of a developing master storyteller.
The film is uniquely his own, but unlike his previous, frivolous film Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel has surprising substance and touching, emotional depth which stays with the viewer long after its final frame.
Rather than just being stylish for the sake of it. Like his films usually are. Wes Anderson uses his traditional, gorgeous, eccentric, visuals to emphasize the beauty of the memories of various characters. They are precious representations of a cherished time gone by. Combined with the touching narration, it gives the film a poignancy, previously unthinkable in a Wes Anderson film.
Probably the most moving movie of the year. Without being overly sentimental or dramatic.
directed by DAMIEN CHAZELLE
But Whiplash illustrates, probably most accurately, the sacrifice, struggle and uncompromising drive to be great.
J.K. Simmons delivers a performance for the ages, simultaneously, provoking disgust and admiration in his portrayal of Fletcher. But all the while keeping the character feeling real and human.
Is Fletcher an evil manipulator or a much needed artistic motivator?
That is the cinematic argument of the year and one that should provide plenty of debate and conversation amongst viewers for years to come.
Easily the most exhilarating film of the year, Whiplash also delivers one of the most satisfying, inspiring, cinematic experiences of all time.
directed by BOON JOON-HO
Fight your way to the front.
Snowpiercer rightfully fought its way to the front by being the most remarkable film experience of the year.
Demonstrating a wide variety of genres and powerful themes, Snowpiercer not only hits the viewer in a visceral sense, but also on an intellectual and political level.
Snowpiercer raises challenging questions, while also entertaining viewers with breathtaking action.
Featuring an inspired performance from Chris Evans and a brave, eccentric one from Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer is also arguably the best and brightest that the science fiction genre has ever offered on film.
Illuminating and thought-provoking Snowpiercer for me, was easily the best film of the year. And likely will be recognized as one of the best films of the decade.
If the viewer is looking for a movie with everything. Literally. Snowpiercer is it.
The perfect representation of a great, thrilling and unique year in cinema.