This weekend we (Daniel Dalton and Hannah Jewell) went to watch Jupiter Ascending, an ambitious space opera from Andy and Lana Wachowski, writers/directors of The Matrix.
Here's what we learned...
Daniel Dalton: Shall we start with a plot summary? This is a movie about rollerblading. Possibly the greatest rollerblading movie ever made, and that includes Prayer of the Rollerboys. Mila Kunis plays Mila Kunis except her name is Jupiter and Channing Tatum doesn’t wear a shirt. Is that about right?
Hannah Jewell: This is a movie about how you should never sell your eggs. No matter how badly you want to buy a telescope. No matter how little your desire for a telescope is ever explained.
DD: Telescopes are pretty boss tho.
HJ: OK try again: This is a movie about bees.
DD: Bees and space. But not at the same time.
DD: So Mila Kunis plays a cleaner named Jupiter. Just to reiterate, her name is Jupiter.
HJ: Because her dad suggested the name right before he was murdered for some reason that’s never explained, so then her mum is kind of roped in to the name.
DD: OH THAT’S RIGHT! There’s a scene with her as a baby and LEE GODDAMN ASHWORTH FROM BROADCHURCH IS HER DAD. I did not care for Lee Ashworth from Broadchurch. I was not sad to see him gunned down. Anyway her last name is Jones. Jupiter Jones. It’s not very Russian.
HJ: They address that in the film actually. Like the family changed the name. Really these were the kinds of small questions the film decided to answer for us, instead of, “what the actual fuck is even happening right now, why are there bees, why is there space, who’s the lady on the hovercraft, why did Eddie Redmayne agree to this?”
DD: Why can't the one Australian guy hold his American accent? Why are there giant lizard dudes?
HJ: Anyway Jupiter cleans toilets because she’s a really down-to-earth regular gal who doesn’t even realise she’s queen of the universe.
DD: Until she's abducted by aliens.
HJ: And she is *so* chill about it. Like she’s a little bit not chill, but she’s mostly chill about it.
DD: She takes a picture of them on her phone and just never shows anyone.
HJ: She doesn’t even Instagram it.
DD: I’d have been like THIS IS SOME MULDER AND SCULLY SHIT RIGHT HERE. I’d have at least Snapchatted it to someone. Like 4 seconds.
HJ: Girl makes a lot of basic social media mistakes.
DD: Also poor film choices. I felt like she didn't really want to be there.
HJ: I feel like her agent just went "So there's this space opera–" and she just screamed "YES" before knowing what she was getting in to.
DD: I liked what Channing did with the character here, he was really Channing it up.
HJ: 100% Channing, all the time.
DD: Remember the part where he had a shirt on? You may have missed it.
HJ: Nah, stopped paying attention at that point tbh.
DD: So what was his deal? Like a stormtrooper, but a dog.
HJ: Right, they didn’t fully explain that – at one point he’s like “yo I’m a dog but like a sexy man dog” and Mila’s like “I dig that.” So he’s genetically engineered, but by kinda rubbish scientists it seems.
DD: There were a lot of things that weren’t explained. I feel like there’s a 5 hour cut of this movie out there somewhere, waiting to explain why Channing Tatum is a sexy dog man.
HJ: I was just about to say that! Like, there’s a 10 minute scene originally, before he says he’s a dog, where he has a nice sit down with all concerned parties. A cup of tea and a good chat to clear the air: “Look, I’m a sexy space dog but also I had wings at some point, let’s get to the bottom of this.”
DD: So his thing is he’s a bounty hunter sent to earth to recover Mila Kunis. But a dog. DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER.
HJ: Honestly I can hardly remember what his actual character is, because the points when we did get an explanation, he was shirtless and I was all “tee hee”, but then as soon as he had a shirt on he was just flying through space firing lasers out of his hands on a sexy rescue mission.
DD: He’s a splice. In a DNA sense. Not like the ice cream. And the other bounty hunters ARE LIKE OH FUCK IT’S C-TATES CHECK OUT HIS RAD BOOTS.
HJ: THE BOOTS!! “Are those flying boots?” was easily the best line. Throw all the Oscars at these screenwriters.
DD: The boots were epic. Like goddamn space rollerblades. I definitely felt like going rollerblading right after. Like this film was made with a 1995 view of the future where everyone in 2015 wanted to rollerblade everywhere. We should make that future exist. *Buys rollerblades* *wears rollerblades* *becomes the future*
DD: Mila and Channing were not really feeling each other in this one. I felt like they’d never met before filming their first scene together.
HJ: And they have to scope each other really fast and decide which way they’d swipe. And Mila’s a bit put off by his goatee and pointy ears, but she knows she can work with that body.
DD: It felt like they’d both just learned English, and were trying to communicate through barely misunderstood translations of a language foreign to both of them.
HJ: Of all the rubbish things about this film, the times I had to hide my face in my hands was every time these two tried to do flirty banter. Just cover my face and mutter “no, nooooooooo...”
DD: Like at one point in the film – the best line in the whole thing – is when he’s like “I’m a dog” and she’s like “I love dogs” and in her mind I could tell she had no concept of what a dog was and didn’t fully understand what it meant and was confused about why she was saying it to him. Like, "I love dogs? Really?"
HJ: You can just tell, too, that while she’s saying the line, Mila is thinking “honestly I prefer cats.”
DD: Eddie Redmayne was incredible. And depending on the size of your soul boner for Eddie Redmayne, either the worst or the best thing about the film.
HJ: I liked how he whispered and then he yelled. He’s a very versatile actor.
DD: Yes he was only either whispering or shouting, it was Marmite performance. No middle ground. I wanted to spread it on toast.
HJ: "Pick a side; we’re at space war, people."
DD: It’s like someone told him the sets were edible and he was having a munch.
DD: Let's talk about the dialogue, because “bees don’t tell lies”. That is all.
HJ: No no no it was “bees don’t lie.” Because BEES NEVER LIE. They talk a lot of shit, but it’s only the truth. Though I’m not sure what’d they’d be interested in lying about, anyway.
DD: That they loved Jupiter Ascending.
DD: There is a line in this film about bees telling porkies and therefore the dialogue is immense.
HJ: It’s kind of all you need to know.
DD: I also like the bit where Sean Bean is like “most humans don’t want to know the history of the universe” and Mila Kunis is like “ooh me, I do” and then he tells her. Classic dialogue.
HJ: Don’t remember that bit as Channing was sexily, shirtlessly cleaning his wounds at this point.
DD: Oh that’s right the awkward sanitary towel thing. Channing gets shot and she patches him up quite sensibly with a sanitary towel.
HJ: Also it REALLY bothered me that she stuck it to his wound the wrong way up – like, you get the adhesive that way round, but not the absorbent bit. Surely you’re trying to absorb his sexy blood, not like, get glue in his sexy wound. Surely you’d use TWO pads, one to soak it up, and one to stick it down, like in a cross shape.
DD: When Sean Bean took it off him he gave him this look like that wasn’t a really sensible thing to do because its job is to literally soak up blood.
HJ: But they’re both kinda embarrassed about it. Of all the things to be embarrassed about in this film. “Ew girls get periods.” Mate your house is DRIPPING WITH BEES.
DD: Binders full of bees.
HJ: Bees don’t lie.
DD: I literally cheered when Sean Bean turned up. He was part bee. SEAN BEEN.
HJ: More like Sean Bees.
DD: His name was Stinger. Stinger Beeface.
HJ: Oh my god. The LAYERS. Remember how Sean Bean and Channing Tatum beat each other up when they first met and the girls were like “BOYS WILL BE BOYS!” Then the daughter pops out to the shops for some milk and we literally never hear from her again.
DD: Milk is deadly.
HJ: So then everybody’s in space. There are no bees.
DD: Did we properly emphasise the number of bees? Anyway, this is where you get both the space and the opera bit in space opera.
HJ: This is the bit we paid £12.50 for.
DD: The CG sets were lavish and eccentric. Reminded me of Dune. As did the costume. But I feel like a proper space opera is supposed to have creaky sets. Like the sets in Flash Gordon were some flimsy shit. Here everything was super polished, except the script. So there was this dissonance between the way it looked, and everything else.
HJ: Wait can we clear something up: Does this film have anything to do with Jupiter? Is that Jupiter they’re always hovering around / plunging into, or just some anonymous gaseous planet elsewhere in the universe? Surely they can’t have been loitering round OUR Jupiter with us non-space humans not spotting them.
DD: I don’t think it was our Jupiter because they did space-y jump things.
HJ: Swear they stole some Jupiter b-roll from our own solar system tho.
DD: No because Spacey Jumps.
HJ: Yeah I know they went through some plot holes (I MEAN PORTALS LOL).
HJ: But I swear I saw our Jupiter in there. Maybe for the metaphor.
DD: One thing they seemed to spend a lot of time explaining is that humans are like billions of years old and what they do is seed planets with life, and then when the planet is full they harvest the people and turn people into the some kind of youth cocktail. Like Soylent Green, but white. Soylent White doesn't have the same ring to it.
HJ: Then it all gets a bit political, doesn’t it? This is the bit when the audience is meant to put on their Che shirts, smoke some weed and talk about capitalism, man. Lots of wide-eyed lines about profit. #occupyspace
DD: Again, felt a little Dune-lite. Like why are there all these politics happening in the middle of this space romp. There was a whole montage scene about bureaucracy. Like a Breakfast Club style montage with people filling in forms.
HJ: That didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Your technology allows you to live for 1,000 years, but your society falls apart when it comes to a bit of paperwork.
DD: It’s like the tagline for the film was: “Nothing makes sense.” #JupiterAscending
DD: I love that no-one ever made Channing take his Space Rollerblades off. No matter how many times he was captured.
HJ: “Reckon we should take away his magical flying boots when we imprison him?” “Nah.” “Reckon we should take off his magical flying boots when we try to kill him by throwing him into space?” “Nah.”
DD: The action scenes were completely impossible to follow, just Channing rollerblading around punching people. Rollerpunching.
HJ: And the fact that they used the exact same plot arc twice. About ten minutes apart. Like, Jupiter is about to sign a contract without reading the fine print and get herself into some legal trouble, and then CT just rollerblades the fuck through space to save her just in time, then she goes “oh woah hey Channing” and swoons into his arms. TWICE.
DD: This was a film about never signing anything. Signing things is bad.
HJ: Never sign anything without consulting shirtless Channing Tatum first.
DD: Eddie Redmayne wants to harvest the Earth, over-dramatically, and if she signs it over and saves her family, but then C-Tates arrives at the last minute because Sean Bean was all “don’t let her sign the thing, Frodo, you’ve been waiting for this your whole life!”
HJ: That’s when I said in a full voice in the middle of the theatre, during the pause before we found out what CT has been waiting for his whole life: “I hope it’s not fucking love.” And then it was love, just like it always is. Some day I’m gonna see a movie and the thing they really want is like, a great job, or a massive pizza.
DD: He just wanted to play fetch.
HJ: Sit, Channing, sit. Good dog.
DD: He’s like “why’s it never great dog, sigh.”
HJ: Everyone's been going on about how this is some big empowering film for women, but I'm not sold.
DD: I mean it was as far as “the one” was a woman this time. And she totally kicks Redmayne in the cock.
HJ: She kicked him right in the boys. Probably my favourite scene in the whole thing. But seriously, how is it that having a woman as the protagonist makes it an empowering film? Girl can’t sign a form without swooning into the muscular arms of her dreamy lover.
DD: To be fair I’d need rescuing by shirtless Channing Tatum in space too.
HJ: I think we all would.
DD: That’s the real lesson here.
HJ: Maybe I'm being too harsh. Let's count our blessings: 1. Female protagonist. 2. Female protagonist who kicks Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne in the nuts. 3. Lack of sexist one-liners. 4. The women characters are mostly clothed, most of the time, and when they're not, it's not gratuitous. These are all great things, and make such a better impression on, you know, the youths, than most action films out there. And yet I have a hard time applauding this film for not being sexist, because THAT'S HOW ALL FILMS SHOULD BE.
HJ: You know what I can applaud though? The fucking SCORE. You know the film composer was given a copy of the film, and thought, “shit, this makes no sense. Maybe I can tie it together with some mournful violins.” And it almost worked. Almost.
DD: Michael Giacchino turned the fuck up. I’m listening to it right now. It makes me feel like space.
HJ: At least we can all appreciate the jobs created for classical musicians in the greater Los Angeles area.
DD: I enjoyed this film equally as much as it made me cringe. But that’s the exact way I felt in Transformers 4. And big chunks of Interstellar. It was nice to have a film that wasn’t entirely Michael Bay’s hard-on fucking my eyeballs with giant robot explosions and Mark Wahlberg looking confused. I liked that it was Mila Kunis looking confused.
HJ: I enjoy muttering “oh god nooooo” under my breath in movie theatres, so this film was really a gift.
DD: You were ready to leave on several occasions.
HJ: I’m glad I stayed. Although I was never so confused as when Channy Tates had wings at the end. I mean, apparently that was alluded to in the shirtless scene when I wasn’t paying full attention. And then Mila is super aroused by his big-ass wings. But think how hard it would be to share a bed with those giant fucking wings. They’d have to sleep separately for sure.
DD: She got a sweet pair of space rollerblades out of the deal so she wasn’t too sad.
DD: I feel like in the future, our respective kids will be mad at us for not making this film a box-office sensation. Like “what the fuck was wrong with your generation, Dad!”
HJ: And we’ll be like, “Sorry,” as we float away on a rapidly-melting iceberg, clinging to our last few possessions, remembering better times.
DD: Redmayne is a lock for the Razzie. Any final words?
HJ: Bees don’t lie.
DD: I feel like I want to say “Stinger Beeface” one more time. What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon.