ASCENDING - Revisited:
A study in greed, narcissism, and
famous Canadian Science Fiction novelist
Mark A. Carter rethinks his initial film review of
Jupiter Ascending entitled:
"Jupiter Ascending: stink, stank, stunk."
I was extremely harsh in my
February 06, 2015 review of the
2015 space opera Jupiter Ascending, directed by
Andy Wachowski, and Grant
Hill, and produced by Village
Roadshow, as were so many other critics after its release.
But upon seeing it again, I would like to comment on what works
in the film and what doesn't.
Without a doubt, the initial
release delay was well worth the wait to get the special effects
just right. And the CGI is
truly amazing. The spaceship designs were
out there like Pluto so far in advance of anything seen
on screen before that it makes the
Enterprise of Gene Roddenberry's
original Star Trek
series look embarrassingly amateurish and the
Enterprise of the J.J. Abrams
2009 Star Trek film as well as the
2013 Star Trek into Darkness film look predicable
and unimaginative. The designs in
JA were varied from battle cruisers to flying
motorcycles. But the most elegant and impressive ships were the
vessels with moveable wings resembling bird feathers. They were
Abrasax bird-like starships from Jupiter Ascending
2015 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved.
||But the brief concepts
that were introduced were utterly
mind blowing. We have all asked the questions: why are
we here; what is the purpose of life; where did we come from;
and are we alone in the galaxy? All four questions are answered
in a perfunctory manner in JA.
Human beings originated on the planet
Oris a billion years
ago and were seeded on Earth one hundred
thousand years ago by the
Abrasax Industries. The Earth
is literally a farm and human beings are a product, a
literal crop to be harvested when they have exceeded their resources.
Why? Every one hundred people
can be refined to produce a liter
of liquid sometimes called
Regenix, or Recell,
or Nectar that instills
extended life, which is used by the
House of Abrasax. It is mentioned that the now deceased
Matriarch Seraphi Abrasax,
who was killed by her son Balem,
had extended her life for over ninety
In fact, the whole purpose of
Abrasax Industries is to garner
the refined product of human beings to extend the lives of the
House of Abrasax. It raises
the question: is this business model sustainable; or, are there
others whose lives are also extended and who have to pay handsomly
for the privilege? The film does not answer these questions.
intrude into the body everywhere to suck out precious liquids.
harvest from Jupiter Ascending © 2015 Warner Bros.
All Rights Reserved.
psychology in the film is
narcissistic and oedipal,
if not outright sociopathic.
This is the perversion that surfaces in an old dynasty.
We see absolute power corrupting absolutely.
And we see carnal pleasure
running rampant. Kalique
loved her mother and wants her genetic
recurrence installed as Matriarch
once again, but to what ulterior
motive? Balem is narcissistically in love with himself.
He killed his mother for the pleasure of it, although he insists
that she begged him to do it. And he desires to kill
Jupiter Jones because she has claimed the
Matriarch's wealth. We witness
Titus narcissistically having sex with a dozen female
aliens simultaneously. It is he who wishes to marry the
genetic recurrence of his mother, and nonchalantly kill
her to inherit her wealth. But what seems sicker still about
Balem, Kalique, and
Titus, is the notion that the
harvesting of a human crop doesn't bother them in the
least. They are utterly self-absorbed. When they visit the harvested
alien world Zantar near the
outset, they show no pity or remorse. There is only the notion
of a cash crop harvested and the wealth it garners. There is
no altruism. There is only narcissism. There is only the idle
speculation that the humans feel no discomfort while they are
being harvested, which is a polite
euphemism for killed and processed.
you ever seen a harvest?
no ... but I've heard they feel no pain. It's all quite humane
from what I've been told.
are marshals and administrators to make sure everything is done
to code but still ... it can be rather affecting.
you sound like mother.
of them are miserable in their lives and what we do for them
is a mercy.
Two interesting things were mentioned
in the film about the House of Abrasax
and two were shown. We are told that the
Abrasax Industries is responsible for the death of the
dinosaurs sixty-five million years
ago. And we are told that
one hundred thousand years ago
Abrasax Industries seeded
Earth with human beings that were gene spliced with an
indigenous species. We see the two
Rings of Oris upon which the
Abrasax family lives in space orbiting their home world
in some unknown part of the galaxy. And we see
Balem's Regenix refinery hidden deep within
Jupiter's Red Spot, in our solar system, close to his
crop of human beings on planet Earth.
of Oris from Jupiter Ascending
2015 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved.
Kalique's efforts to save
Jupiter Jones and see her receive the inheritance of
Seraphi Abrasax, the plot
does not progress much beyond the attempts to kill
Jupiter. We witness the initial attempt to kill her from
the outset at the Volo Women's Health
& Fertility Clinic on the orders of
Balem. We see Titus
attempt to trick her into marriage, with plans to kill her soon
after the ceremony, and inherit her wealth. And we witness
Balem attempt to kill her directly, in a repeat performance
of his mother's murder, within the damaged confines of his red
spot complex near the end.
cybernetic being named Gemma
Chatterjee and the robot lawyer named
Advocate Bob invoked feelings of strangeness known as
the uncanny valley.
But the aliens were another matter.
Alien greys, known as "Keepers,
from the Dioride System, genetically repurposed to act as monitors
and watchdogs," according to
Caine Wise, were first seen in
Katharine Dunlevy's home. Next, masquerading as human
doctors and nurses via screen memory,
these terrifying aliens attacked and attempted to kill
Jupiter at the fertility clinic.
They are revealed as aliens when human/wolf
hybrid Caine Wise begins his attack to free
JJ from their grasp.
marriage ceremony between Titus Abrasax and Jupiter Jones
Jupiter Ascending © 2015 Warner Bros. All Rights
feather-faced owl alien, the
spoon-eared female alien named
Gugu Mbatha Raw, and the elephant-faced
alien named Nesh seemed
puerile and as far-fetched as the aliens in the bar scene from
the 1977 sci-fi film
Star Wars, now renamed
A New Hope, directed by
George Lucas. But the most unrealistic aliens were the
flying reptiles which were better suited to a
sword and sorcery film than to
sci-fi and were merely a larger version of the
flying monkeys from the 1939
fantasy film The Wizard Of Oz, directed by
Victor Fleming and King Vidor. Plus, did anyone really
believe that such bulky lizards could fly on
skin-thin bat wings ... really? Remember,
sci-fi has to make sense.
The costumes were elaborate,
elegant, seductive, and utterly impressive. They were designed
in a style befitting a futuristic dynasty with good artistic
taste. In many ways, the costumes were stylistically similar
to the formal attire worn by the Emperor
Shaddam IV and his entourage in the
1984 sci-fi film Dune,
directed by David Lynch,
although in the latter the costumes appeared
antiquated to match the archaic
architecture, and the clunky
and simplistic spaceships.
Titus, and Kalique Abrasax wearing formal attire
on Zantar: a world that has been harvested recently
from Jupiter Ascending © 2015 Warner Bros. All Rights
parts of the film were "oh
come on' moments. The first
should have been reduced. The
second should have been cut altogether. The
first was the eight minute
long fifty-two part
chase scene that shows Jupiter Jones
and Caine Wise fleeing
from aliens shortly after he rescues her from the clinic. It
took six months to film, was
way too long, and should have been edited for time. But the most
tedious part of the film was the bureaucratic
red tape that JJ is
forced to endure to be certified
as the genetic recurrence
of Seraphi Abrasax and rightful
heir to her wealth. It is meant to be funny and even includes
a scene with Terry Gilliam
as the Seal and Signet Minister,
but ironically the irony doesn't work.
It falls flat, is
boring beyond belief, and
should have been left on the cutting
I was originally disappointed
in the lack of further plot and continue to be. But at least
now I can appreciate that JJ
chooses to return to Earth
to live and to work with a family that she almost lost, to cleaning
toilets by day; and to cavorting
with human/wolf hybrid Caine Wise
over the skies of Chicago
by night; all the while being the secret owner and protector
of the human race and of planet Earth.
What this film needs desperately
is a sequel in which Jupiter Jones
embraces her full status as
Queen Abrasax and not merely
morning coffee maker to her mother,
toilet bowl cleaner in the family business, and the potential
future mother of a litter of puppies.
2015 film Jupiter Ascending by Andy and Lana Wachowski
is copyright © Village Roadshow Pictures and Anarchos Productions
and is distributed by Warner Brothers and Roadshow Entertainment.
All Rights Reserved.
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