‘Jupiter Ascending’ a Cinderella tale in space
Considering the multiple war drums sounding whether from ISIS, the Ukraine or elsewhere, the assortment of dystopian movies harken threatening shadows of soured, societal futures.
“Jupiter Ascending” qualifies as a hybrid on this fantasy concept, as the Earth represents a tiny pigeonhole of inhabited planets impacted by totalitarian deviants, hoping to harvest this Mother Earth’s resources (human, too) in “Soylent Green” soup.
Lana and Andy Wachowski (“The Matrix”) introduce lowly maid Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) scrubbing toilets with her mom and other family members who were born on a ship at sea. She moans the daily 4:45 a.m. alarm and calls for another life. Almost as fast as one can say, “you’re not in Kansas (substitute on earth) anymore,” the combo Dorothy/Cinderella falls into the arms of muscle man Caine (Channing Tatum). He swoops her over Chicago skyscapes courtesy of gravity defying skate shoes to a bee swarmed farm house inhabited by Stringer (Sean Bean), an exiled interplanetary Legionnaire.
Jupiter has inherited 100 percent genetic make-up of universal royalty. She’s destined to rule all space and planets – that is if she can escape the demise calculated by the power hungry Titus (Douglas Booth), who knows she’s the reincarnation of the mother he killed eons ago.
Leave it to the Wachowskis to bring spectacle, absurdity and weirdness. “Jupiter Ascending” recalls so many science fiction, fantasy, action and adventure genres that it escapes a distinct label. “Star Wars” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” meet cliffhangers of the 30s and 40s (i.e. “Flash Gordon,” “Buck Rogers”) dazzled by touches of Disney fairy tale magic and a sprinkle of their 21st Century darker “fables” (“Maleficent”) and a little “Game of Thrones.”
On a separate plain, F/X dazzle in this space odyssey. Their specialties dwell on imaginative vistas, smooth space warps, and futuristic cityscapes (think “Blade Runner” excellence).
Could Ms. Jones have slipped and fallen down a rabbit hole into this convoluted wonderland which faces further transformation into spoiled brats play pen?
Swinging from blazing blasts to increasing hints of romance, “Jupiter Ascending” nearly crosses the campy comedic boundary, especially Ms. Kunis waxing from a vulnerable “Perils of Pauline” old-fashioned female to her climbing crumbling and burning ladders in a more strong woman persona.
As I said, “Jupiter” qualifies as a hybrid in the genre that has spawned anti-utopias where young adults face “Hunger Games” and “The Maze,” both of which continue in 2015.
“Jupiter” likely will not have a sequel; it’s princess of the universe has no where else to go and F/X have overshadowed the storytelling.
March ushers the next entry of the “Divergent/Insurgent” society where every young adult has one controlling faction in their character, excepting a few like “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley) who’s multiple dominate traits have made her a champion as competing factions and ideologies spur escalating conflict. (March 20)
Director Neil Blomkamp, who unveiled the harsh futures of “District 9” and “Elysium,” returns to science fiction in a world where mechanized police are known to unfairly maintain law and order, until one of the robots (“Chappie”) displays human traits. Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver star. (March 6)
The windy month also unleashes snow queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) in an animated short, “Frozen Fever” that reunites Anna, (Kristen Bell), iceman Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and snowman Olaf (Josh Gad). Unfortunately, Anna’s birthday celebration comes on the same day that her big sis has caught a cold, causing storms with every sniffle and sneeze. It will be attached to the live action Disney adaptation of the animated classic, “Cinderella,” which portrays Cindy in a blue gown on its poster.