Friday, February 6, 2015

Space Kitsch: 10 Basic Elements of Jupiter Ascending

"Philistinism presupposes a certain advanced state of civilization where throughout the ages traditions have accumulated in a heap and have started to stink." --Vladimir Nabokov

1) Intergalactic pointy-eared warrior Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) swirls (air-surfs?) around in anti-gravity boots, just barely catching Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) in free fall from some very high place. This scene gets repeated (albeit with different locations) multiple times. Much of the plot of Jupiter Ascending consists of various reasons as to why Caine and Jupiter separate so that he can soon fly back into the scene to save her again.

2) Due to some genetic mix-up, many animalized people appear, including a humanoid lizard in uniform, a man/rat with a red nose (I thought he was part opossum), a fetching woman/mouse with very large ears, and a more obscure fellow with an elephant trunk who only appears when spaceships explode.

3) An extraordinarily jaded but otherwise stylish threesome of intergalactic aristocrats, the Abrasax family, appear to rule much of outer space. Floating in his gold chariot, Balem (Eddie Redmayne) speaks softly with chilling detachment of consuming humans for profit. The more blandly handsome Titus (Douglas Booth) participates in free-floating PG-13 orgies with various animalized humans when he isn't trying to marry Jupiter. Lastly, Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) takes a genetically-rejuvenating bath. One learns to expect much skullduggery from this snotty bunch.

4) Jupiter cleans toilets as a humble but disgruntled janitor on earth until she learns that she's in actuality the reincarnated queen of the universe! Later, she returns to cleaning toilets.

5) Channing Tatum tries to act manly and nonchalant with pointy wolf ears. One can sense that his character Caine is probably secretly delighted with Jupiter's interest in him (as she says, "I love dogs!"), but he would never show it. He's all about conveying Hemingway-esque cool as he swirls about, sliding across the morning Chicago skyline, shooting at space bounty hunters with his blaster pistol.

6) Jupiter somehow induces a bunch of farm bees to do a coordinated CGI dance around her upturned arms. This designates her as intergalactic royalty. As soon as space warrior Stinger (Sean Bean) sees this choreographed bee swarming going on, he kneels and calls her "Your highness" near a corn field that evokes Looper (2012).

7) Pretty, stylized Moebius-influenced spaceships float about, appear through clouds, assume reddish disintegrating interiors, explode into flames, etc.

8) We learn that the rich of the universe plan on harvesting the humans of our over-populated planet, somewhat in the same vein as the humans serving as a primary power source for The Matrix (1999).

9) Jupiter Ascending has an orange and teal color palette with red highlights that reminds one of the superior The Fifth Element (1997).

10) The Abrasax gang informs us that time is the most important currency of the universe, an insight that the viewer of Jupiter Ascending understands deeply as he keeps looking at his watch. Outer space can be such a null void.


DeadSpiderEye said...

Orange used to be a don't, the old phosphor screens couldn't render with a degree of fidelity beyond something that looked like decayed mussel flesh, Ektachrome was nearly as bad. Teal? I had to look it up, like Chartreuse it's a convention outside my orbit, I've never had reason to hire an interior decorator. Which raises an interesting point, is it acceptable to call a dirty orange, Rotting Mussel?

FilmDr said...

You could just say orange and blue. My film students had no trouble chiming in about noticing lockstep color balancing in recent movies. We may study Snowpiercer next week, which has a refreshingly varied color scheme that lines up with its class warfare theme.

I wonder if the Wachowski's major problem boils down to their decision to make something "light" in comparison to Cloud Atlas. They ended up with a movie so feather-thin it threatens to slither off the screen.