Awfully Good: Jupiter Ascending + Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (Video)
THE RIDICULOUS 6 was bad, but if I had to pick one movie from 2015 for the Awfully Good Hall of Fame, it would no doubt be...
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Director: The Wachowskis
Stars: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne
Average Earth woman Jupiter Jones goes from cleaning toilets to being crowned a reincarnated intergalactic queen, finding herself in the middle of a millennium-long power struggle between three ruthless siblings.
Hey, white privilege even exists in outer space!
Is it possible to hate a movie but love that it exists? JUPITER ASCENDING is an embarrassing disaster, made even worse by the fact that it comes from the talented Wachowskis. It seems like this was destined for failure from the start—a $200 million bizarre space opera that appeals to no obvious target audience in particular. Most frustrating, it walks the line between being a watchable trainwreck and something you want to nuke from orbit.
ELF 2: BUDDY'S REVENGE took a seriously unexpected turn.
Space operas are supposed to be grandiose, campy affairs and to that end JUPITER ASCENDING is successful. The Wachowskis were clearly going for a big-budget, more serious FLASH GORDON and so much of the finished product is delightfully weird— elephant spaceship pilots, lizard henchmen, shapeshifting invisible aliens, and zero-gravity orgies. Even the movie's major action set pieces are supremely and confidently goofy. Watching Channing Tatum's half-wolf, half-human character essentially roller skate through the Chicago skyline dodging bad guys and spaceships is a sight to behold and the MATRIX directors just go for it. (The score by Michael Giacchino generously helps these sequences in being less silly.) And just from a visual standpoint, JUPITER ASCENDING is gorgeous. The design work for the alien planets, epic spaceships, futuristic technology and flamboyant costumes are creative and stunning. Even if the outfits make it look like most of the characters are coming home from a rave.
OPERATION DUMBO DROP 2: REVENGE OF THE DROPPED took a mostly expected turn.
If a little cheesiness was the only issue here, JUPITER ASCENDING would be a fine throwback and a guaranteed cult favorite. Who doesn't love FLASH GORDON, ICE PIRATES and the like? Unfortunately everything interesting and well-done about this movie is just window dressing on a half-cooked story and fully-horrendous script. The characters are underwritten stereotypes and each of the performers is painfully miscast. The tone varies scene to scene, from unintentional comedy moonlighting as drama to actual comedy moonlighting as Zzzzzzz….. (There's an extended segment satirizing government bureaucracy that's straight out of HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE and BRAZIL and sticks out worse than Channing Tatum's dog ears.) And the script is full of dialogue rejected from a daytime soap opera. Here's an example that's delivered at pivotal moment with the utmost sincerity: "Lies are a necessity. They are the source of meaning and belief and hope. Honestly, lies are sometimes the only reason I get out of bed."
In Soviet Russia, testicles kick you.
There is the backbone of an interesting story at work, an intergalactic Greek tragedy about a wealthy family's business empire harvesting humans so they can live forever. (Sounds a bit like THE MATRIX, no?) Unfortunately, the drama is handled with the subtlety of early-era Jim Carrey. This is a Greek tragedy where one brother kills his mother and the other actually tries to marry her reincarnated doppelganger. You can't get much more obvious than that, can you? The worst part is that film speeds through all of this potentially cool stuff, as if you should already know the backstory. Instead, you get to spend more time with the terrible love story between Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum. Yay!
At least aliens have good taste when it comes to who they anally probe.
The romance aspect of JUPITER ASCENDING is just awful and completely dead on arrival. It's built up in Mila Kunis' opening narration as this great cosmic love story foretold by the ages, only to land with the grace of a wet fart. Kunis and Tatum's lack of chemistry together is mind-blowing and their romance is one of awkward desperation. Kunis talks about how she has terrible taste in men and then proceeds to constantly throw herself at Tatum, even though he's shown no interest and they've had no significant moments together other than conversations of exposition and him repeatedly saving her in various action sequences. Even more embarrassing is the supposedly witty banter between them. These exchanges are all really in the movie:
"Travel can be rough on the royal bowels."
"My bowels are anything but royal." :
"I have more in common with a dog than I have with you."
"I love dogs! I've always loved dogs!"
"Now that I’m Entitled, does any part of you want to bite me?"
Demi Moore always made things uncomfortable for the new Mrs. Ashton Kutcher.
Kunis plays Jupiter Jones (real name), a maid who turns out to be the reincarnated matriarch of the universe's most powerful family and the rightful owner of Earth. We know she's the queen because she discovers she can control bees and Sean Bean tells her, "Bees are genetically designed to recognize royalty." Ohhh, okay. Got it, thanks. (FYI, Bean plays an exposition dump character who is half-honeybee and uses curse words like "Beeswax!") Kunis is over her head in the role but Jupiter is truly a terrible character regardless of actress, a passive damsel in distress who goes through the entire film being told what to do and forced and manipulated in to situations. She's also constantly falling from things and needing to be rescued. Even when she finally makes a decision for herself in the end, it ends up getting her in trouble and Tatum has to once again save her mid-air.
The poster child for regret and embarrassment.
Speaking of, poor Channing Tatum. The guy's proven himself a charismatic and talented actor over the past couple years, but he's given nothing to work with as dog soldier Caine Wise. Actually that's not true. He's given ridiculous ears, frosted hair/goatee and albino makeup and is expected to carry an entire movie without being ridiculed by the audience. You put any actor in that getup and make him rollerblade everywhere and he's going to come off looking like an outer space horse's ass. And to his credit, you can tell Tatum realizes this. He looks like he's in physical pain in every scene, actively trying not to look confused by the ridiculous script or laugh at the atrocious dialogue.
However, before I completely dissuade you, let's talk about the one good reason to watch JUPITER ASCENDING—Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne. Redmayne's performance as Balem Abrasax, the eldest brother and chief villain, is a masterclass in how to overact and the stuff of Awfully Good legend. With his low key tone and Renee Zellweger-face, the man constantly looks like he's falling asleep and/or about to cry. (Both are acceptable reactions to this film.) And he only has two modes of communication—whispering so low you have to turn your volume up just to hear him, or PAINFULLY SCREAMING ALL HIS LINES. The latter happens without warning and it will have you on the edge of your seat in fear of hearing loss. Redmayne is such a pro, he even manages to overact when he's turned away with his back to the camera. They need to either take away his Oscar or give him a second one.
So should you watch JUPITER ASCENDING? It's like a car crash on the side of the road with multiple fatalities, one where you have to peek through your fingers to see just how bad it is. And this is a movie that ends with Mila Kunis' space queen making out with Channing Tatum, a human-dog with wings, as they roller skate across the sky together. When it's bad, it's bad and when it's really bad, it's great.
Enjoy the best of Eddie Redmayne's random screaming, plus some bad lines from Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis and Sean Bean.
Here's a brief space orgy, Eddie Redmayne getting hurt like a pansy, and some examples of Channing Tatum's skating action sequences.
One of the brothers has an intergalactic zero-gravity orgy. Also, butts.
Take a shot or drink every time:
- Mila Kunis says, "I hate my life" or "Holy crap"
- Channing Tatum saves Mila Kunis' life
- Eddie Redmayne yells
- You have to turn the volume up to hear Eddie Redmayne
- Channing Tatum says, "Your majesty"
- There's an awkward romantic moment
Double shot if:
- The elephant roars
Thanks to Eric for suggesting this week's movie!
Stop! Or you'll miss more Awfully Good! And by that, you'll miss this week's Awfully Good Movies video column featuring STOP! OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT starring Sylvester Stallone and Estelle Getty! Oh yeah, there have been a lot of badass team-ups over the years, but nothing quite beats the combo of Rambo and The Golden Girls, am I right? Nope. Nope, I'm not right. But, that's what makes this episode of Awfully Good Movies so much fun...
CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...
|Extra Tidbit:||Terry Gilliam has a cameo during the part of the movie that rips off BRAZIL.|