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Jupiter Ascending

The Could-Be-Doing-Better ROSSMAN

I loved the Wachowski siblings' The Matrix. It's still an amazing movie after over 15 years. I enjoyed the two Matrix sequels despite the interwebs as a whole pissing on them for whatever reason (I honestly still don't understand the unadulterated hate directed at these two movies, but I digress). I love V for Vendetta (which I thought was common knowledge that they pretty much ghost directed), and I can appreciate the fast and colorful, but kind of empty, Speed Racer movie that they took such great love to construct. Oh, and I think that Cloud Atlas is a work of art. These were pretty much my thoughts on the Wachowski's life works as I headed into the theater to see their newest release: Jupiter Ascending. My thoughts as I came out of the theater could pretty much be summed up as "........ What did I just witness?"

Not that Jupiter was awful, just that it wasn't great. It could have been great. Unfortunately though, it gets lost in its own tale and forgets that they're people watching it... That's the best way I can describe it. It starts off as a pretty amazing (looking) sci-fi tale of lost identities and alien invasions, but then it turns into a slapstick comedy featuring a plot of planetary inheritance and sibling rivalry before settling into a long finale that revolves around blowing up the inside of a giant gas planet. It goes all over the place, but in the end you look back and realize that the journey wasn't all that far, and that the flick was really just spinning its wheels for most of its run time.

So, the movie starts off with gorgeous Russian girl Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) breaking her back scrubbing toilets for her Uncle's maid business (a slight upgrade from sleeping with Ashton Kutcher). Then her life gets interrupted by a family of insufferable space-faring business mogul tools — 3 siblings who own most of the planets in the galaxy, who use the populations of those planets for something known as "Harvesting." Sounds pretty heinous, no?

Anyway, genetically-altered dog-boy super soldier Channing Tatum skates around on hover boots and swoops in to save Jupiter from a bunch of hired mercs employed by the space siblings. Well, he saves her, then loses her, then saves her, then loses her, about 4 to 5 times during the course of this thing. Anyway, what we learn during all this swooping and saving is that this family of space assholes has been waiting for the genetic rebirth of their mother to appear somewhere out in the universe, and it turns out that's exactly what Jupiter is (their reincarnated mother dearest), even though she's not the same person, has none of her memories or desires, and only looks like the late matriarch in the most superficial way.

Jupiter Mila Ashton KutcherAnd while Jupiter and Channing are running from, talking to, and trying to blow up these demented megalomaniacal kinfolk, they're also talking to the intergalactic police, filing reports, and standing in line at government offices while trying to claim Jupiter's previous life's planetary inheritance (which includes the Earth, which pisses off the oldest douchebag space sibling since he had planned to harvest the planet "tomorrow"). This "Harvesting" takes place when a planet full of humans becomes too populated and the space dillweed family turns the entire population into a Soylent Green mineral bath that keeps them forever young. I'm telling you, this thing is insane.... But in order for it to be as awesome as Star Wars or The Fifth Element (what it strives to be), it actually needs to be MORE ridiculous, or a bit more serious. It just can't get its tone right. But whatever. It's not "green." That's all I'm saying.

Things culminate inside the actual planet Jupiter, where the eldest space douchebag set up his Earth-harvesting factory, complete with winged lizard soldiers and hideous bird-legged alien greys wobbling around like creepy CGI nightmares from my childhood. Jupiter Jones and dog-boy Tatum confront the lord dingleberry, and then blow up the planet because things wouldn't be complete without a ginormous Death Star-like explosion in the end. Then Jupiter goes back to scrubbing toilets for her stereotypically retarded immigrant uncle because.... She... Wants... to stay.... grounded? I don't know. I thought it was lame. I thought she (as the re-politically powered matriarch of the douchebag clan) could have done a LOT more good going out into the universe and stopping all the harvesting and her "children's" faggotry (trust me, those spoiled kids were swimming in assholicness).

As I was saying, Jupiter Ascending tries so hard to be this generation's Star Wars or The Fifth Element, but although it nails it when it comes to world-building and visuals, it's simply missing the fun of those two movies. It attempts to be super serious, and then (a second later) flip over to absolute slapstick, but instead of being amusing, it's just confusing. For example: the first 1/3rd of the movie is pure action and adventure, with a heaping helping of explosions and adrenaline. It's played at about 90-95% serious (just like most actions movies — if you stop to think about it — only maybe just slightly more sincere than average), and it was very entertaining. Then, from out of fucking nowhere, we find our heroes in an intergalactic bureaucratic, paper-pushing, winding eternal-queue, space-government office where they need to get some stamps on some documents in order to further the plot along. This section is played as silly as they come (what with the group being directed, then redirected, then shunted from desk to desk, over and over again), but it just kills the momentum of the plot what with the miles-long lines, the silly-looking aliens that come stumbling straight out of the Mos Eisley Cantina, and a goofy-looking android with a stapled-on human face (and a prissy, but determined demeanor) who is our reluctant heroine's guide through the insane amount of red-tape. It takes you out of the movie and makes you think they're trying to make another Spaceballs here or something. Oi!

Despite the extremely uneven approach to the tale, the story, the visuals, and Mila Kunis do make this a movie I'd recommend... At least on Netflix while watching on a big screen TV. Just don't spend $10 per ticket on it. The dollar theater might be worth it though.

So in the end, I enjoyed Jupiter Ascending alright, but I didn't love it. I just kept wondering how much greater it could have been with a different script reviewer and a different editor. It LOOKS fantastic (and so does Mila), but visuals just aren't enough to please me anymore. I give it a C+ or a B-... Somewhere in there.


DOCTOR DAVE

Genetically-altered immortality... I like how these Wachowski brothers think. It reminds me of that time I experimented on neighbor's cat. I first scraped up a bathtub full of kitty cat stem cells, and then proceeded to take the 16 year-old ancient tabby and dunk her in a small pool of goat milk, 6 electric eels, some radioactive element I got from my supplier for buying over 50 beakers and stoppers, and those stem cells. The cat almost immediately de-aged, right before my very eyes, and then it turned into some sort of demonic 3-inch clawed, scaly, ravenous hell beast, and it ran off into the night after taking a few bites out of my left calf. I would have called the dog catcher on it, but it was heading towards the police chief's house, and he's been giving me a tough time over the diseases being caught down-stream from my lab for years now, and I thought it would be no big loss.

So... Where was I? Oh yes, demon cats. Well, I eventually caught the little booger again after she feasted on a few of the smaller children in the neighborhood and became lethargic. I found that there was some strange, glowing liquid in her eyeballs that I could not identify, so in the name of science I paid the Rossman's friend Kuni $5 to drink the cat juice. After that gave us no discernible effect I then milked about a gallon out of the beast and then injected it into Kuni's scrotum and ass. This produced some amazing results... For me I mean. Not for Kuni. It killed him. But I learned that that demon cat eyeball juice turned humans into Teriyaki-flavored beef jerky! I've been eating that stuff and selling it on the side to fund my experiments for the last 2 years now! SCIENCE!

This movie was confusing though. And the scenes in the government offices just brought back to many bad memories. I give it a Doctor Thumb Down.


LANA WACHOWSKI

Oh my god! This movie is ballstastic! It's so awesome it'll make you shit dicks! Watching it is like sliding down a firepole again and again... And again... It's like having a disembodied penis-throwing contest; everybody wins!

I just hope it doesn't get the shaft in the box office.

4 out of 4 stars! It's just BALLS-OUT AWESOME!