Mamo #394: Uranus Descending


We come not to praise the Wachowskis but to bury them, our hearts heavy as we pick apart the first outright misfire in a career of innovation. What’s up with Jupiter Ascending?

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Matthew Fabb

What will the Wachowskis siblings do after the tv show Sense8? Lana Wachowski has mentioned in two interviews that they plan on going on sabbatical once Sense8 is done, as she says that they have been working without a break for the past 6 years, moving project to project. However, depending on the success of Sense8 I wonder if that is a good idea. If they are gone too long, I imagine they might have trouble getting a new movie made.

I wonder if perhaps they might be better off writing comic books, as they have written a few titles in the past. Using that as their R&D and when something works well and gains popularity, selling it to a studio and adapting it to a large movie. That still doesn’t mean the resulting movie will work, but just seems like a better system to test things out without costing hundreds of millions of dollars.


This explanation is perhaps insufficient, but I enjoyed Jupiter Ascending as an action version of Hitchhiker’s Guide. Both movies feature incompetent heroes who bounce through various adventures and escape through luck or by being rescued. Hitchhiker’s Guide sustains audience interest through humor and hilarious acting (always a fan of Sam Rockwell) as well as a charismatic lead. Jupiter sustains with gorgeous visuals and fast action, as well as a funny-absurd performance by Eddie Redmayne.

My defense of Jupiter Ascending is simply that it is gorgeous to look at. Comparisons to Phantom Menace are apt, except that PA looks terrible and Jupiter does not. Perhaps in 14 years I won’t think Jupiter looks good, but we have to enjoy things in the moment and not fret about how they will age.

The originality argument I kinda get, except this is simply the best looking version. Portal gates and hyperspace jumps aren’t original, but I like the way a bit of space is distorted around ships and they take a little area with them. It kinda makes more sense too, as opposed to just teleporting a ship. The planets aren’t original, but they look lovely here. I guess anti-grav boots came from somewhere else (Jet Set Radio?) but this is the first time I’ve seen them in a movie and it’s a good effect. The farming of people idea is similar to the Matrix, but it achieves a different end here and puts in a bit of class commentary to boot.

The problem is this argument destroys nearly every movie. I watched Starship Troopers last night, and I can do the same thing for that movie. Military guys? Giant Bugs? Space battles? Big metal ships? All done before. The story and satire of Starship Troopers is fantastic (and the movie is way better than Jupiter) but I balk at nit-picking supposedly original works to death over the sourcing of their ideas.

Who killed the dinosaurs?! Ha! Loved that little throwaway revelation.

Oh, one last thing. The box office book isn’t necessarily closed on Jupiter as it’s doing pretty well overseas. I could see the Wachowskis leveraging this foreign success into more foreign financed movies. Their love and appreciation of Anime could see them making big movies for the Asian markets that also play here.