Jupiter Ascending is a Kaleidoscope of Color

Jupiter Ascend­ing Review

I was figit­ting in the back of the the­ater while watch­ing the Matrix Reloaded. A woman sit­ting in front of me tried to shush me. I must have been figit­ting too loud­ly and dis­turb­ing her con­cen­tra­tion on what was plain­ly a cin­e­mat­ic bed-wet­ting. I was angry that suc­cess had ruined what could have been a great sequel to an obvi­ous­ly great begin­ning in the orig­i­nal Matrix.

The Wachowskis have been giv­en sev­er­al oppor­tu­ni­ties to tell their sto­ries on the big screen and the bud­gets to match their reach. Trou­ble is the sto­ry got left on the cof­fee table. What is hap­pen­ing in the trans­la­tion of their ideas to the big screen? They get all the pageantry and fanci­ness right, but it has­n’t been in ser­vice of the sto­ry. The fun­da­men­tal job of a direc­tor in a nar­ra­tive fic­tion is to tell a com­pelling sto­ry while argu­ing some the­mat­ic idea.

Mak­ing a big bud­get pic­ture is not an easy thing to do. Mak­ing a no bud­get video is not an easy thing to do either. Film­mak­ing is like going to war. The fog of get­ting it done can cloud the clear­est vision. The logis­tics are colos­sal and the pres­sures mon­strous. No one takes on those kinds of dif­fi­cul­ties with the inten­tion of mak­ing a bad movie. You want your work to turn out great. Some­times it does­n’t. The cre­ative forces must be focused to a fine point like a laser light. All the wave­lengths and fre­quen­cies of the art must con­verge to burn like the bril­liance of the sun. This has­n’t been hap­pen­ing late­ly with the Wachows­ki films to mer­it the big bud­gets and epic sto­ries.

Maybe the Wachowskis need to make small­er pic­tures where the dis­trac­tion of all those toys they get to play with won’t cloud their cin­e­mat­ic vision. I’d like to see how they han­dle a pic­ture with a $20 mil­lion dol­lar bud­get. They’d have noth­ing much to do then but tell a great sto­ry and let that car­ry the film. They did it before with Bound, why not make some more of those small­er pic­tures? Get their sto­ry telling chops back and then go for anoth­er big con­cept epic.

You’ve no doubt noticed that I haven’t men­tioned the ele­phant in the room, name­ly Jupiter Ascend­ing. I tried to watch it 5 times and would wake up at dif­fer­ent parts and then try to start over. I had to give up. It did not hold my inter­est. There was noth­ing of inter­est to keep that curi­ous part of my mind active. Jupiter Ascend­ing for me was a kalei­do­scope of col­or and com­put­er graph­ics trick­ery not unlike the wall­pa­per that is a Michael Bay Trans­form­ers film.

The fact that after six­teen years the Wachowskis film mar­ket­ing still has the tag line “From the Cre­ators of The Matrix Tril­o­gy” plas­tered on the ads tells you how long it’s been since they’ve had a hit as sub­stan­tial as The Matrix. Four Oscars is great and all, but awards don’t enter­tain the movie going pub­lic. By now their ads should­n’t have to ref­er­ence The Matrix. You don’t see Tar­ran­ti­no movies ref­er­enc­ing his past hits. Maybe that’s because he’s had a few hits and his name is enough to get the job done.

So hav­ing not real­ly seen the film because I kept slip­ping into dark­ness at the “eye­lid the­ater” I can’t rec­om­mend­ed Jupiter Ascend­ing except as a cure for insom­nia. Maybe you can find some­thing about it to keep your inter­est. I found it exhaust­ing. Not that there’s any­thing wrong with that!

Ira Harmon/ Film review­er for Pop Machine

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