The 13 Biggest WTF Moments In 'Jupiter Ascending'

Jupiter Ascending, from Andy and Lana Wachowski, has moments of incredible technical brilliance, flashes of good character comedy, and some wild leaps of imagination. It also features more than a few things that left us wondering what the hell was going on with the Wachowskis. Some of these elements (not many, but some) were things we liked. Still, the effect of having them all mashed together was to produce a sensation of being numbed and at times bewildered. And yet we can't stop thinking about many of them, and we imagine you can't either. So we've had fun exploring thirteen of the biggest Jupiter Ascending WTF moments in the film.

Full spoilers for Jupiter Ascending are ahead, so be warned.

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw

The Wachowskis assembled a great multi-cultural cast for this film, including the very talented Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bae Doona, and David Ajala. But Gugu Mbatha-Raw has almost nothing to do except stand around in animal ears, holding a clipboard. And despite the cast, the film's human/alien royal structure is entirely white, and the film basically wastes the performances from Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Bae Doona. I assume the idea is to make a point about power structures, but it doesn't fly. Just look at that image above; she's pissed about it, too.

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The Bees

I almost like the scene with the bees. It's a bit strange, and rather majestic in its own way. But there's really no relationship between "royalty" amongst insects and anything in the human or human-isn alien kingdoms. The concept of royalty for bees is just a convenient way to talk about bees' social structure, but a bee doesn't know a royal or a queen from a corpse. Why bees and not termites, or ants, or any other insect with a hierarchical social structure? This movie is crazy enough already, so seeing Jupiter controlling giant mounds of termites wouldn't be any weirder than anything else.

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Elephant-Face

Parts of Jupiter Ascending seem like a commercial for Star Wars figures right out of my ten-year old dreams. This guy, who I believe is referred to as 'Nesh, makes a few appearances, commanding our imaginations in much the same way similar fifth-tier players did in Star Wars. (That's 'Nesh as in Ganesh, the Hindu god who is a patron of arts and sciences, and a remover of obstacles... to my heart.) Somewhere there's a creature canteen where this guy drinks with Nien Nunb, Admiral Akbar, and a couple rubber monsters from the original Star Trek. ( Runner-up for best creature is split between the dragon-like military enforcer, who is straight out of the first D&D Monster Manual, and the owl-faced guy.) Image via Business Insider.

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Zero-G Sex

We're not confused about why this is in the film, we're just upset that we don't have this yet in real life. Note: image above is not of zero-g sex. And the family-oriented site Parents Preview merely points out that there's "some sort of unspecified sexual activity is implied between a man and a group of women," so maybe we're just imagining it.

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Instant Damage Rebuilding

The first big chase scene through the skyline of Chicago is thrilling and expertly executed... and it results in massive collateral damage in the city. This seems like a prime opportunity for the Watchowskis to put an intelligent spin on the topic of conversation that has come up after the release of many tentpole films over the past couple years. Instead, the damage is all magically fixed within hours... which raises a question. If protecting the human investment on Earth calls for the deployment of such technology after a big sky battle, why not after actual Earth disasters? Why didn't they save a few extra humans after Katrina, or the 2004 tsunami? Why didn't the Wachowskis actually engage with this concept instead of writing in a silly side-step? (Image above from Man of Steel, because obviously.)

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Terry Gilliam

On one hand, I kinda love the fact that the Wachowskis don't simply spend a few minutes indulging in a not-really-necessary homage to Brazil. (And to films that followed in Brazil's wake, with a particular nod to the 2005 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.) No, they go a step further an actually put Terry Gilliam, the director of Brazil, in the film. That is ridiculous and almost audacious. It's fun. it also contributes nothing to the story at hand, and does far more to distract from what's going on than anything else.

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The Bilbao Planet

We're a few years past festishizing the work of architect Frank Gehry, and so when the time comes to show a clutch of terrible people on an inhuman, dead planet, we see the film's Royal Trio on a world that seems to be lifted directly from Gehry's imagination. In fact, part of the background is one of the buildings that made Gehry's name: the Guggenheim Museum in Bilabo, Spain.

And while we're at it, that set of royal siblings, and the fact that each of them just disappears from the movie in turn after they're defeated, like video game minibosses, only contributes to the film's sense of artificiality. The palace intrigue feels like it wants to be a condensed version of Game of Thrones, and it's easy to imagine this story being far more captivating if there was time to spread it out into hours of storytelling.

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Egg-Selling

Jupiter's cousin has a plan to make money that involves Jupiter selling her eggs, and because he's a giant douchebag and the film seems relatively under-cooked with respect to dramatic conflict at this point, the cousin is going to take most of the proceeds. And, OK, we get that Jupiter is relatively inexperienced and fairly beholden to her family. But she's also an adult, and one with thoughts and feelings, who is able to quickly grasp the intricacies of a very unusual system of technology and geneology. But she's just willing to say "ok, sure, I guess I'll sell my eggs so you can buy an Xbox One." We know there were some significant reshoots done on this film, and this is one of the sequences that seems like it might have some replacement work — we'd love to see what was in the original cut submitted to Warner Bros.

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The Wedding

I've wracked my brain to justify some of this scene. Clearly the Galactic Prince in question is a giant scumbag, and has nothing but his own interests in mind. So maybe he has arranged this wedding as a way to use Earth customs to lure Jupiter into a scheme. But the existence of the ring burner — what does that do to the concept of divorce? — suggests that weddings like this are actually a thing in the ruling echelons of the galaxy. In the end this is more a character problem than anything else, as we're shown Jupiter to be supposedly smart as she brushes up against all this new information, but when it comes to making active decisions based on it, she's really super-dumb.

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Back to the Toilets!

Kid, you've just discovered that you own the world, and have more power than any human on Earth ever imagined! What are you going to do now? "Well, I've got these toilets to clean."

I understand that Jupiter likes being human, in the old Earth-bound sense of being human, and that she loves her family, messed-up as they are. But the film opens with her saying "I hate my life" every morning, and it is really difficult to believe that her massive shift in perspective makes cleaning toilets seem like a good thing to do. The problem really is that we don't know what Jupiter wants, because she doesn't know. And that's OK, too, but that doesn't explain her warm glow of contentment as she scrubs a bowl, either.

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The Romance

"Must love dogs." Hey, look, it's Channing Tatum. We get it. He's one lead, she's the other, they have to fall for each other, right? But they have even less chemistry than the leads of Fifty Shades of Grey, and that's saying something, because at least one of the Fifty Shades leads seems to be carved from actual wood. In a genre that often features romance awkwardly shoehorned into the story, this love between a woman who is the genetic recreation of the queen of the universe and a part-human, mostly wolf ex-warrior whose artificial wings have been chopped off is even more artificially created than those dog ears.

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Eddie Redmayne

Sometimes great as an actor, I can't imagine anyone, not even the Wachowskis, know what Eddie Redmayne is doing in this movie as Balem Abrasax. Is he paying homage to Sting's terrible work in David Lynch's Dune? Is he aiming not just for camp, but for a galaxy in which camp is literally a religion? His quiet-loud-quiet delivery and histrionic physical performance seem like the unfortunate side effects of experimental medication rather than acting. We get it, he's the bad guy, but there's nothing in this performance that suggests the character continues to exist when the camera is turned off. It's like he's a demon who winks into existence just to mess up all these pretty shots of a dystopian planet-machine (there again, shades of the Harkonnen planet in Dune) and then blinks away again to stump for Oscars as soon as the camera is off.

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The Matrix

So this movie is about a worker drone who is disconnected from their life who is plucked from everyday existence and revealed to be a key player in a much larger game that uses humanity as a raw resource, but our central hero is the one person who may be perfectly primed to save humanity from their fate as an endcap product in a great galactic Target? OK, cool, where have we heard that before? It sounds so familiar, but we're pretty sure this is an original story.

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