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If you’ve read Scott Weinberg’s review, you know that Jupiter Ascending is a hot mess of a movie. The latest from the Wachowski Siblings is a melange of classic sci-fi tropes, chock full of nods to films like Flash Gordon, The Fifth Element, and all manner of anime. While the film is likely destined for midnight movie cult status, it is, by most accounts, not good. That being said, Jupiter Ascending is still one of the most important films to come out this year. And that’s exactly what we’re talking about today on The Dan Cave.
Despite its myriad structural and tonal problems, Jupiter Ascending is one of the few films coming out this year that isn’t a reboot, a sequel, or an adaptation of an existing property. In other words, it is original. Yes, it has many, many influences which it unabashedly wears on its sleeve, but that isn’t a bad thing. Nearly everything we love–from Star Wars to Avengers—has its own set of stylistic influences; it’s just a matter of how you apply them. Jupiter Ascending‘s eyes were too big for its stomach as it tried to cram too many plots, ideas, and tropes into its 2 hour and 5 minute run time, but at least it made an effort. Which is more than I can say for other genre fare like the Robocop reboot or Colin Farrell’s Total Recall, two movies that tried to skate by on brand recognition alone, but failed due to their rotten cores.
The Wachowskis have always struggled with run times, which is why their Netflix series Sense8 might be a better venue for them since they can take their time and tell as story over the course of a number of episodes. As Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos noted during a recent symposium at Chapman University, “If you look at the earlier cuts of their films before they had to jam them down to 120 minutes, it’s amazing.” The Wachowskis don’t always hit cinematic paydirt, but you can’t accuse them of not swinging for the fences.
Should you be forced to go see bad science fiction? No, no one should. Should more filmmakers be willing to take risks like the Wachowskis? Yes, absolutely. There is a middle ground to be found between the increasingly bloated field of nostalgia-fueled reboots and the wild, balls-out fare like Jupiter Ascending. If we’re going to have any sort of continued longevity and vitality in the genre in the years to come, we need to find a way for filmmakers and audiences to meet one another halfway. Or else, creativity in genre filmmaking be like Sean Bean in Game of Thrones: dead before you know it.
What do you think? Do we need more films in the spirit of Jupiter Ascending? Or should we just welcome our new reboot overlords? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.
In the meantime, you can look cooler than Channing Tatum in space boots by snagging a The Dan Cave t-shirt from the Nerdist Store.
And it may seem antithetical to the spirit of this article, but I love The Avengers. So much so that I wrote a book coming out this spring called 100 Things Avengers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, which you can pre-order now!
That’s all for now–see you guys next time.