The Wachowskis have made two of my favorite films of all time. The Matrix and Cloud Atlas are both beautiful movies that have changed the way I think about how stories can be told. I’m even one of those people who likes the Matrix sequels (genuinely!) — especially Revolutions (gasp!).
As such, it’s safe to say that my expectations for Jupiter Ascending were astoundingly high. A long production cycle coupled with a release delay of nearly a year meant I’d been looking forward to it for a long, long time by the time it finally made its way into theaters.
Then I actually saw Jupiter Ascending.
In hindsight, there was absolutely no way the film could ever live up to the astronomical (pun… intended?) expectations I had heaped upon it. But it’s not that Jupiter Ascending fell short of my expectations — it’s more that it came nowhere near them.
I wanted to love it. I really did. (I still want to love it.) But I didn’t.
HOWEVER, and this is maybe the biggest however I’ll ever write for this site, I will go to my grave saying that watching Jupiter Ascending is worth your time.
A lot of the criticisms you’ve likely heard about Jupiter Ascending come from people who haven’t seen the movie. That makes me so mad. It’s easy to pile on and kick a dog when it’s down. “Here is this ambitious, insane, disjointed mess of a sci-fi movie; everyone else is hating it, so I should, too!” I know this type of thinking occurs with many different pieces of pop culture, but it struck a chord with me when it happened to a film I wanted to love so bad.
Jupiter Ascending is worth your time because it’s breathtakingly gorgeous and ambitious. Aside from Christopher Nolan, no one is creating stories and worlds on a scale anywhere near what the Wachowskis are doing. Whether it’s a swing and a sort-of-miss (like this movie) or a home run (like Cloud Atlas or sense8), the Wachowskis are telling stories in ways — both visual and narratively — that’s virtually unprecedented in today’s cultural landscape.
Jupiter Ascending is worth your time because NOT seeing it discourages Hollywood from making more original stories. We sit back on our high horses, lampooning Hollywood executives for churning out sequel after sequel. Then, a truly original idea comes along, and we hate it because it’s overbearing and weird? We can’t hate everything! We need to like things, and we need to encourage original ideas. Otherwise, everything is doomed.
Jupiter Ascending is worth your time because it’s filed with amazing set pieces. Well, maybe just one, but watching a high-speed chase on futuristic sky roller blades (?!) through the Chicago skyline is worth the price of admission.
I don’t love this movie, but I love this movie. I’ve drawn a line in the sand. I love the Wachowskis, and I love this flawed movie. I don’t know if you’ll love it, but it’s worth your time because it’s too original not to be.