The 13 Biggest WTF Moments in ‘Jupiter Ascending’

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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, partĀ 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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