Saturday, March 7, 2015

Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Directors: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Writers:    Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Cast:         Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean

In a bright and colorful future, a young destitute caretaker gets targeted by the ruthless son of a powerful family, who lives on a planet in need of a new heir, and so she travels with a genetically engineered warrior to the planet in order to stop his tyrant reign.

I generally have problems with films having human/human-like aliens because it is not compatible with the Theory of Evolution. Evolution is such a random process when it comes to the mutations and their survival which means that there is practically no chance of humans evolving independently in a different place. X-Men franchise does not involve Alien life but the characters in it are supposed to be mutants. This is again problematic because a single mutation won't lead to creation of such individuals and if at all it were to happen, it would have to happen over a large amount of time with many generations carrying the mutation. You can of course say it is a work of fantasy and you needn't look at the plausibility of the central theme, but I just can't help it. I just took X-Men series as an example and almost all these kind of films like Superman, Guardians of Galaxy etc suffer from the same problem of being ludicrous when looked from an evolutionary angle.

So I was pleasantly surprised by the central plot of Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending since it is structured around the concept of Evolution with a respectably plausible idea. They get away with having alien human characters by explaining that they were the original humans who have reached a very advanced level in terms of knowledge and technology. In evolution, the goal is survival of genes and this is done by replication through reproduction which means that the individual carrier dies out. In Jupiter Ascending universe, the super-humans in it wants to preserve their body and thus time is the most precious commodity. They manage to extend their life by replenishing the cells in their body by using a 'truth serum' which is made out of other human beings. So in order to produce these serums they populate planets with humans by introducing them into its environment and letting it evolve. When the number of humans in a particular planet reaches the maximum amount that it can support, they are harvested to make the serums. One might ask why they cannot just clone it and it is explained in the film that cloning led to problems with the serum almost causing the extinction of humankind. So Earth is one such planet where pre-cursor to human life form were introduced after the controlled extinction of dinosaurs. You can still pick holes in this theory but it is far better than the usual sci-fi based fantasy films in terms of plausibility. 

So the basic plot is that there is a big powerful family with three heirs and the oldest son (Eddie Redmayne)  owns Earth. He has got a younger brother and sister and all three are at odds with each other. They inherited the family wealth after their mother was murdered. Jupiter (Mila Kunis), a resident from Earth has got exact genes of that queen through sheer randomness of evolution and thus she is sort of a reincarnation. The queen had mentioned in her will that if such a scenario were to occur some of her wealth will be inherited by the reincarnated being and so Jupiter can lay claim to Earth if she wants. So the entire film is really about a property dispute within a family with all three siblings trying to control Jupiter through seduction and deceit. All this leaves ample scope for boring CGId fight scenes to take place in head-ache inducing 3D. I fucking hate that they still feel the need to make films in this format when it actually distracts you from the film without adding anything meaningful to the experience. The script is kind of lame with Mila Kunis not at all being helpful with her average acting. Others are alright and I didn't even mind Redmayne's hammy performance. I don't want to criticize the script too much because the story is kind of complex to be executed without feeling too expository. Good on them to make a really original film. It is absolutely bonkers in a very good way. Like Mark Kermode put it, you will laugh at the film in some places but also laugh with it. Obvious comparison to make would be with Guardians of Galaxy which also came out last year. GoG scores in terms of wit and characters but Jupiter Ascending is far better in terms of story and execution of action sequences. Overall I found Jupiter to be a good watch and it is a shame that it got such terrible reviews. It is better to aim high and fall than play safe with stereotyped stories and characters.

As for Wachowskis, their best work is of course the first Matrix film with the lesbian neo-noir debut, Bound, coming second. V for Vendetta, which they wrote by adapting Alan Moore's graphic novel, was quite decent. I haven't seen Cloud Atlas, which got mixed reviews with extreme opinions, mainly because am not too enamored by its cast. I would like to read that novel first before watching the film.

Rating: 3/5