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Jupiter Ascending


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Do we *know* what the budget on this film is? Box Office Mojo doesn't list one for this film (or for Cloud Atlas). It does say that Speed Racer, which had a production budget of $120 million (not counting marketing etc.), earned $93.9 million worldwide (slightly more than half of that overseas) and Cloud Atlas earned $130.5 million worldwide (almost four-fifths of that overseas), neither of which is anything to write home about when you're making films at that level. (The lowest-grossing Matrix film, i.e. Revolutions, earned $427.3 million worldwide.)

Thus sayeth Variety. It doesn't sound at all high for an effects-driven space opera, so I see no reason to doubt it. 

 

By rule-of-thumb Speed Racer probably lost c.$80 million. Cloud Atlas is complicated by its independent production, but should still have lost a large amount if the numbers are correct.

 

I might as well state my general dislike for the Wachowski's films. As far as I can see their philosophy is even more glossy and shallow than their aesthetic - a mixture of ponderous obviousness and anarchist-chic.

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"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Perhaps more appropriate for a separate thread, but one of the reasons I've shied away from Letterboxed is my worry that published writers I've read and admired elsewhere might be sloppier on Letterboxed. Not that I expect fully formed, publishable responses with every review, but can't the guy be bothered to use uppercase letters every now and then? Is it really so hard to follow such basic conventions? 

 

At least he still punctuates. 

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Drew McWeeny says "battle lines are being drawn" over this movie, and he says he loves it because it's "a sprawling adventure for the 14-year-old girl inside all of us".

 

Also: just as Channing Tatum's character is part dog, Sean Bean's character is part bee!!

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Perhaps the best Roger Ebert-esque review slam I've seen at rogerebert.com, since Roger's passing. Matt Zoller Seitz on JUPITER ASCENDING...
 

 

"I have no idea what was at stake in this film, what the bad guys wanted, what the good guys were trying to do; I'm sure it's possible to figure it out, but I'd rather do something more pleasurable, like untangle wadded-up strands of Christmas tree lights."

 

 

 

Full review

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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This is definitely a popcorn flick, a fantasy of strange proportions. Less sci fi and more fairy tale. Completely and utterly ridiculous in all the right ways. It doesn't feel overlong like The Hobbit movies (or fall to the problem of completely destroying an already existing franchise like the Hobbit book or the original Trilogy of Star Wars for that matter) it's just pure special effects laden suspend disbelief and be dazzled glory. It works. I enjoyed it. Nothing more ridiculous than a talking raccoon, or a walking tree that says one word. Not as amazing as Guardians by any means, but certainly of the same vein of out there science fiction that feels more like fantasy.
 

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

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Justin, any thoughts on the 3D presentation? I'm thinking of seeing the film and am wondering if this is the rare film where the surcharge might be worth paying.

 

At this point, it looks like this might be a Presidents Day viewing for me. I don't anticipate seeing it any sooner than then.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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This is definitely a popcorn flick, a fantasy of strange proportions. Less sci fi and more fairy tale. Completely and utterly ridiculous in all the right ways. It doesn't feel overlong like The Hobbit movies (or fall to the problem of completely destroying an already existing franchise like the Hobbit book or the original Trilogy of Star Wars for that matter) it's just pure special effects laden suspend disbelief and be dazzled glory. It works. I enjoyed it. Nothing more ridiculous than a talking raccoon, or a walking tree that says one word. Not as amazing as Guardians by any means, but certainly of the same vein of out there science fiction that feels more like fantasy.

 

 

I'm with Justin on this one. Despite all the negative reviews, I finally decided to go for it after another friend recommended it.

 

The universe is this film is ruled by simple supply and demand - most commodities are no longer in demand; the only thing left is - time. And human essence can be harvested and packaged to provide that time to the very few wealthy and powerful enough to pay for it. In the universe of this film, Earth is nothing more than a farm and we're the herd. When the population reaches the point beyond which the planet can sustain it, it's time to be harvested. This is space opera at its finest - big, big, BIG! and not afraid to go even bigger. The film's release was pushed back to give more time to post-production and, quite frankly, I don't think the studio quite knows what to do with this film, but I'll tell you this much - if you enjoy seeing a movie that'll make you think while taking your breath away with its lush visuals - go see this one. (Plus, there's a scene that'll make you realize that bureaucracy is with us until the ends of the earth.)

 

And with all due respect to Matt Zoller Seitz, whose reviews I have frequently admired, if he couldn't figure out what was going on in Jupiter Ascending, he just wasn't paying attention.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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Beth: 3D or 2D?

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Beth: 3D or 2D?

 

2D. I didn't expect to like it THAT much :)

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm with Justin.  I had a lot of fun with this.  There's also just enough ideas and themes behind the dazzle to give one a little something to chew on, even if it's a fairly light meal.  I left satisfied.

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I went to see it on St. Valentine's Day. The theatre was sparsely populated. Next door, 50 Shades of Grey was sold out.

 

I liked it in the same way I liked John Carter. But then, my favourite movie of all time is Starcrash.

He finds no mercy

And he's lost in the crowd

With an armoured heart of metal

He finds he's running out of odd-numbered daisies

From which to pull the petals

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I liked JA quite a bit, but never got on board with John Carter, despite seeing it a couple of times.

 

While watching JA, I kept thinking that if the new Star Wars movie is as successful at doing what it does as JA is at doing what it does, people will be doing backflips, heralding the return of their beloved franchise to respectability. JA catches no such slack.

 

I'm sure this is heresy to people with a deep investment in Star Wars, so ... sorry, guys?

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I don't really think this was "The Matrix with a girl."  The Matrix was a cyber-punk/anime/martial-arts mash-up version of "the Hero's Journey."  The sequels were kind of a deconstruction, then reconstruction, of what the hero's journey means.  Jupiter Ascending, on the other hand, is mash-up of mid-century sci-fi paperbacks, comic books from the same era, and modern YA fiction, all wrapped around the hook of "Space Cinderella."  The Cinderella story is maybe not quite as deeply embedded in mythology as the Hero's Journey is, but it's close.  There are plenty of variations on the same theme throughout folklore, and it's basically the story at the heart of everything from Jane Eyre to Twilight to 50 Shades of Grey.  It's got some very deep resonances for a heck of a lot of people, and complain about it's message for young girls all you want--it's not going away.  So it strikes me that Wachowskis (one of whom is a trans woman, however that affects your idea of feminism or not) decided to take the concept and blow it up big, twist it around--but ultimately not change it in the expected way: Make Cinderella into an awesome action hero.  After all, the central appeal of Cinderella has always been that she was a lowly, regular girl like the rest of us, working a menial job.  So the Wachowskis decide to keep her a basically regular girl throughout, guided by her common and moral sense, capable of getting out of a few dangerous situations by herself but not capable of fighting a dozen bad guys by hand.

 

For the ending, (and I would put this is in a Spoiler box if I knew how, so SPOILERS if you really care) they decide to affirm this basic decency and lower-working-class existence by having her decide to keep to her old life and just hide the secret that she owns the Earth.  And they also give her the cool space boyfriend, who is devoted to her, calls her Your Majesty, is big and muscly and can save her from any danger, and lets her use those awesome gravity boots for X-sports.  Because don't teenage girls get to have fantasies, too?  Is it only guys who get to have big blockbuster fantasy movies geared around them imagining what it would be like to become a superhero and save the girl, or can a girl get a movie about what it would be like to secretly be a princess and get a hunky boyfriend?

 

Basically, I really enjoyed this movie.  I would say it's pretty goofy and over-the-top in a lot of ways, and it's definitely not going to be to everyone's taste, but if you think you might like, check it out.  I was going to say it's pretty mindless, too, but I think I've talked myself into thinking it's got some clever things going on at the conceptual level, even if that cleverness didn't make it down into, say, the dialogue.

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Stephen M said:  I've talked myself into thinking it's got some clever things going on at the conceptual level,

 

-

 

I think it does too.

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Plus, it has cool cosmic footware that makes one of the characters look like a member of the 22nd century Bay City Rollers.

 

I joke, but I did enjoy the film -- even the cosmic roller skates.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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