I’ve had some time to solidify some thoughts about Jupiter Ascending, I’ll try to avoid spoilers.
Firstly, a few words in defense of Jupiter Jones. I’ve seen some people say “she’s your self-insert OC from when you were 14” well let’s just stop that, and give it its proper name. She’s an everygirl, or if you prefer, everywoman. She is widely relateable, basically unexceptional, and thrown into a complex world for which she has no frame of reference. She’s not Black Widow. She’s not Sarah Connor of T2. She’s not Ellen Ripley of Aliens/Alien3. She’s Sarah Connor of the first Terminator film, Ellen Ripley of the first Alien film. She’s Dorothy Gale from Kansas and she has no idea what the fuck is going on. I think she handles herself quite well, especially compared with the vast majority of bumbling, inept everyman characters that fill our screens. Yeah she makes some bad judgement calls, she’s human, and she’s waaaaaay out of her depth. She gets the hang of it though, she steps up (again, think of all the everyman characters who never step up, before you put her down).
I’ve also seen some people say “all she does is get rescued by Cain” and let’s just put that to rest. All Cain does is rescue Jupiter. All Jupiter does is pretty much everything else that happens in the film up to and including saving the entire damn world. She’s not the one-trope character, HE is. And by the end, she doesn’t need him, he needs her.
Jupiter Ascending does well with characters, in one respect. Even characters you see for one or two scenes and then never again, are well drawn enough that you can be bothered to wonder what happened to them. The “ooh shiny!” approach to subplots and minor characters is something a lot of people have criticised, particularly in conjunction with the very linear “collect plot point and proceed to next station” motion of the main plot, but this all just gives the film a dream-logic quality. Yes it’s not as tight or strong as it perhaps could’ve been, and it hints at complexity and possibilities beyond the scope of even two hours, but our confusion and bewilderment is Jupiter’s.
Everything that you see occur outside of Jupiter’s direct awareness is 1000% necessary to minimise expository dialogue. Otherwise, we know as much as she knows, we only see what she sees. This is why we never see what happens when she’s unconscious.
And I want to talk about how her unconscious clothing changes all take place offscreen. We never see her in that vulnerable state, naked and unconscious. Her vulnerability is never fetishised. The most vulnerable we see her is in a
paper clinic gown. She is not broken or torn down to become a hero. She goes from strength to strength, without being punished for it and without it being precipitated by trauma.
I’ve seen people say the only deeper meaning of Jupiter Ascended is a hamfisted “capitalism is bad” and I want to know what movie they saw?
Because Jupiter Ascending is about how human life has intrinsic value,
it’s a criticism of the valuing of some lives and bodies over others by
accident of birth. It’s saying everyone should have the chance to pursue a
meaningful life and make their own mistakes. It’s saying undocumented
immigrants matter as much as anyone
else in the galaxy. It’s saying all of us are precious.
And actually, I am off the “it’s garbage, so bad it’s good” wagon entirely. Because it seems like that wagon is full of people who are apologising for liking it, and shouldn’t need to. This movie is a celebration of women’s wish-fulfillment and power fantasies and that’s GREAT.
I want to hug Lana and Andy and tell them I believe in them. I want to hug them and thank them for believing in me. Because that’s what Jupiter Ascending is, it’s a love letter from the Wachowskis to me, to you, to all and each of us, that says “Hey lady, we believe in you. Your stories matter, your dreams and fantasies matter, you matter, and if anyone tries to shit on the things you love, THROW THEM OFF A BUILDING. We’ve got your back.”
It makes me sad that it’s tanking so badly, because it will be so long before we say anything of its like again. We’ll see Spider Man’s Origin Story Again sixteen more times before we see another everygirl become queen of the fucking universe and save the world, and that hurts my heart.