Jupiter Ascending, the new film from the Directors Wachowski, has been getting a lot of negative publicity, but the Wachowskis have been good to me in the past, so Sand and I went off to see their newest film. When we got to the theater, we were the only ones there. Now eventually ten other people poured in, so that by movie time, we felt like sardines packed in a very, very, large and roomy can. The lights went down, and after the obligatory thirty minutes or so of commercials, the movie began.
A young girl named Jupiter whose father was killed and her mother had brought to America to clean toilets for rich people agrees to enter a scheme with her cousin whereby she sells her eggs (yup, her very own eggs) for enough money to buy a telescope. As it turns out, all the doctors and nurses at the harvesting clinic are aliens (from space, not Puerto Rico), and they simply want to kill her for her jeans. Wait, sorry, kill her because of her genes. Fortunately, just in the nick of time, a guy with some really cool flying shoes rescues her and informs her that all the toilets she has been cleaning actually belong to her. His name is Caine, and he is part dog. He takes her to a friend's place, a guy named Stinger. Stinger is part bee. Stinger recognizes who Jupiter is, and begins calling her "Your Majesty." Before anyone can get around to noting how fortunate Jupiter was not to be named after the planet Uranus, they are ambushed and she is hustled off planet and gets involved in the internal squabbling of some kids whose mother was killed and they are now vying over who gets what in the family business. The assets of the business include Earth. Earth's population was seeded there and is now ready for harvest. Ewww. After lots and lots of backstabbing and mayhem, Jupiter is able to establish her claim on Earth, and everything else pretty much gets "blowed up real good."
In the course of this movie, one third of the audience walked out. Given how few of us there were, that was not really a stampede. Still, you have to wonder why people would pay good money for a movie and then not watch it. There are movies I would walk out of -- those that have gratuitous and unrelenting sex or violence, or those that are insultingly profane. Fortunately I don't go to those. If a movie is just poorly made or boring, I'll stay just to get whatever I can for the money I paid.
Jupiter Ascending is neither gratuitous nor profane. In fact, it's a lot of fun for those of us who go to a movie full well knowing that we are going to see unadulterated science fiction fantasy. It goes good with a tub of popcorn and a bag of gummy bears. Admittedly, and I don't think I'm going very far out on the limb here, there will be no Oscar nominations for this movie next year. It's a good-looking film. The CGI is well done, and there is lots of glitzy art of exotic space things. There's spaceships and sentient lizards. There are crop circles and alien greys. There are ray guns and robots. And lots and lots of stuff blows up. A valid criticism of this movie may be that it is not as good as you might expect from the Wachowskis -- indeed it can fairly be categorized as Saturday matinee fare. But hey, you don't hit home runs every time at bat.
Don't go to this movie for the acting -- there's not a lot of it. Don't go for deep psychological insights. Don't even go for tips for how to clean toilets. If you go, just sit back and enjoy it like you might sit back and enjoy the old familiar roller coaster at your local amusement park. If you've got that mindset, you'll get your money's worth.