Jupiter Ascending and Kingsman: The Secret Service. There is much foaming at the mouth.

JUPITER ASCENDINGJupiter_Ascending-267973304-large-2

How depressing.

I’m trying to remember if the Wachowskis have made a decent movie since The Matrix and as far as I recall, the answer is no. True the were heavily involved with V for Vendetta which is simply stunning. They didn’t direct it, though. Nor, it seems, did they learn anything about plotting from adapting Alan Moore’s object lesson.

So. Jupiter Ascending. Okay, it’s not all bad, but a lot of it is. For one thing, it gives the impression of believing itself to be much cleverer and more more important than it actually is; for another it’s influences are far too obvious to be seen as anything approaching unique.

Prometheus, Stargate, Dune, The Matrix, Chronicles of Riddick, Return of the Jedi, John Carter, Men In Black 2, 2001 and many more are all referenced, knowingly or not.

The dialogue is an embarrassment and contains almost every sci-fi cliche imaginable. The only one that missing was “What is this thing you humans call . . . love?” and that came so close at times, I nearly wept. Where the dialogue is actually audible, and there were some severe sound balance issues, it is so ineptly written, you wish it wasn’t audible.

Mila Kunis, despite being dressed in ‘feisty young woman’ mode, is little more that a melodrama heroine constantly under threat of being tied to the railways tracks in order that hero can save the day. There is even, god help us, a “Marry the villain and everyone will be saved’ sequence that looks like it was lifted wholesale from “Flash Gordon”. I half expect Brian Blessed to turn up and save the day in  Hawkman guise. Eddie Redmayne was even wearing Emperor Ming’s cloak at one point. Ironically, Channing Tatum ended up with a pair of wings at the end which was a tad odd and I suddenly Flash (Gordon) ed back to It’s a Wonderful Life…

And then there’s the sudden break in tone that was meant to be a comedy interlude.   The thing about comedy interludes is that they are infinitely better is they are actually funny.  Homaging ‘Brazil’ and it’s bureaucratic nightmare scene is all very well; placing Terry Gilliam in it even has a nudge-nudge humour to it; but making it dull and draining the movie of any forward thrust it had?  No. What is particularly galling is that the idea of a Queen queueing up and facing a redtape filled hell in order to ascend to the throne is actually quite funny, but so badly mishandled. It also seemed baffling in that the film title is ‘Jupiter Ascending’.  Having the ascension presented as an excruciatingly unfunny throwaway gag, essentially hamstrung the whole movie.

It also unforgivably recycles the Matrix’ premise of humans being used as a resource.  Setting it against a galaxy spanning dynasty, doesn’t make the idea any more original. Same meat, different gravy. Earth’s past is re-written in  a story that is almost entirely derived from the execrable Prometheus and the backstory skirts uncomfortably close to Scientology at times.  But that’s not what is wrong with it.

What’s wrong with it is that it ever got funding. It’s a savagely poor mish mash of sci-fi tropes. Seriously, has Hollywood never heard of script-editors? Is there no quality control? It’s all very well to create something that, at times, is staggeringly beautiful – and some of the design is just stunning – but you know that thing about beauty being skin deep?

As the movie progresses, the design gets busier and more complex as you rise through the social ranks to what is essentially the CEO of a Galactic Conglomerate – played with pantomime, scenery chewing hilarity by Eddie Redmayne. It gets to the point where there are so many layers of design, that you simply cannot process what it happening onscreen. It’s so busy that at times it feels like one of those ‘Magic Eye’ posters. You know the ones, if you stare at it long enough, you might see something a bit disappointing.  Jupiter Ascending has that in buckets loads.

Perhaps what is most irksome, and a complaint I level at  a lot of movies, is the structure. You don’t get action, suspense, plot, narrative skillfully woven into a satisfying whole. Instead, you get:

*Chase scene*

*Exposition*

*Channing Tatum removes his shirt*

*Set piece*

*Exposition*

*Channing Tatum removes his shirt*

*Chase scene*

*Exposition*

*Set piece*

*Exposition*

*Channing Tatum removes his shirt*

*Chase scene*

*Exposition*

*Set piece*

*Exposition*

*Epilogue*

But possibly the worst misfire is that the film focuses on Mila Kunis character.  The heroine was actually pretty dull and film should have been from Channing Tatum’s viewpoint. He was the one going out and actually doing things and driving the story along. Mostly offscreen! Time and time again, he’d come back and tell you of interesting things he’d just been up to while we forced in watching Mila Kunis engaged is soap opera rubbish with her family back on earth.

Any regular readers (haha . . . right!) will know that I really do not like Sean Bean, and yet I can’t help feeling he was wasted in this role. That’s even before we get to his bizarre statement about bees being genetically modified to not sting royalty.

Or some such shit.

And that fucking elephant thing! A brazen attempt at creating their own Admiral Ackbar.

But the scariest thing about this movie was that halfway through, I got so bored, I drifted off and lost myself in thoughts of Doctor Who.   Any movie that can my me think of John Barrowman pulling a gun out of his arse deserves a slow and painful death.

Thank you for that one, Wachowskis.   Thank you so much.

Claim_your_FREE_tickets_to_screenings_of_Kingsman__The_Secret_Service

KINGSMAN

After the effort all that bile took, my review of Kingsman will be mercifully short.

I loved it.

Yes, it was the love child of The Avengers and James Bond conceived at an orgy thrown by Our Man Flint, but none the worse for that.

It contains all the madness of 1960 Bond and all the surrealism of the later Avengers seasons and updates it just enough to not be annoyingly ‘hip’.

It also contains the first use of parkour I’ve seen in a movie that actually make sense and is completely believable.

And yes.  Samuel L Jackson’s accent is bloody awful and all over the place.

However, sniggering like an idiot, I also noticed that one of the major themes in the soundtrack is a dead ringer for “The Land of Pure Imagination”.  I don’t know whether this was deliberate or not, but bearing in mind the Queen of Sweden takes it up the chocolate factory at the end, it seemed entirely appropriate.

More Kingsman please!

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