Posts Tagged ‘wachowski

22
Aug
15

Movie Review: “Jupiter Ascending”

Jupiter-Ascending-poster

The Wachowski’s, Descending

“Jupiter Ascending”

Starring: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Tuppence Middleton

Directed by: The Wachowskis

“Hollywood will never let us direct a big-budget movie again…”

Such is and will be (for now) the plight of the Wachowski siblings Andy and Lana. Almost twenty years removed from their first movie “Bound,” the siblings haven’t had a money-making hit since “The Matrix: Revolutions.” While “Speed Racer” was a wild technicolor, hyper frenetic acid trip of a movie and “Cloud Atlas” (with “Run Lola Run” director Tom Tykwer) was wildly ambitious so is “Jupiter Ascending” and as such, like previous two, fails to deliver. Here’s the rundown:

Jupiter Jones (Kunis) is a Russian emigrant of sorts – born on a ship traversing the Atlantic following the death of her father by Russian mobsters. Now grown she lives with other members of her family in a house in Chicago making a living as a maid/janitor. She doesn’t have much of a life and doesn’t want to. Enter Caine (Tatum), a mutant half-human/half-wolf genetic hybrid manufactured to be a soldier who was sent to find her because he’s good at it AND she happens to be the key bargaining chip in a battle over the Earth. Hit ‘Pause’ and let me explain:

Kunis: I don’t know why I’m here.

Abrasax family member: You have the exact genetic sequence of our dead mother!

Kunis: What does this mean?

Abrasax family member: You control the fate of the Earth.

Kunis: I don’t trust you.

Abrasax family member: But you should!

Kunis: Okay, I guess I can trust you now. What do I have to do?

Jupiter meets all three members of the Abrasax family who have divied the galaxy into Monopoly properties (“You have ten planets but Earth is worth more than those combined.”) Earth is the Boardwalk of the universe (“Do not pass Jupiter, do no collect…”) and the Abrasax family have one goal in mind: longevity. Immortality being ludicrous the family “harvest” one-hundred humans to make one core sample of a blue substance that they use in order to be younger, healthier, more beautiful, etc. Never mind the fact they already have giant blue pyramids of these core samples or the fact they live for millenniums – one can ever have too much time, I guess. Jupiter (and us, the audience) gain this information watching her go through a story with more convoluted twists and turns than a Mike Hammer novel. With the help of Caine and Stigler (Bean) Jupiter just may make it out alive and maybe make sense of it all. Maybe.

“Jupiter Ascending” is a wildly beautiful, crazily chaotic, immersively entertaining film that lacked a story. Between the space ships, laser blasts, fight sequences, and techno gadgetry belies a movie of style over substance. Kunis has far removed herself from being Jackie in “That 70’s Show” and a film like this does her no justice – she has more in common with Sigourney Weaver’s ‘Ripley’ or Linda Hamilton’s ‘Sarah Connor’ than she does the stereotypical ‘I’m here to look beautiful, be confused, go along with what everyone is saying and hope everything turns alright in the end’ woman. I was waiting for her to kick ass. Didn’t happen. This film did her less justice than “Extract.”

Of note for those looking for inside jokes or gags there are a few to be had. In one scene Tatum, using his anti-gravity boots), grabs the back of a truck and hitches a ride a la “Back to the Future.” When Jupiter goes to prove she is the genetic descendant of the dead Abrasax mother she goes through multiple lines and always has the incorrect form much like “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” or even “Brazil” (note: Terry Gilliam has a cameo appearance in the film). Et cetera.

Should you watch this one? If you have a 50-inch or bigger TV check it out; you can even invite me over. This is a film MADE for a movie theater and such the detail is in the set pieces. If you’re less concerned about the CG then you may want to skip it altogether.

My grade: C-

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10
May
08

Movie Review: Speed Racer

 

 

 

So this is what the ADD instant-gratification kids are into these days.

 

Starring Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox, and Richard Roundtree. Directed by the Wachowski Brothers.

 

When I was growing up, I watched “He-Man,” “Transformers,” and “G.I. Joe;” I was a kid of the Eighties. That being said, I had never watched the 1960’s cartoon “Speed Racer,” until I was much older and discontent with the latter-90’s cartoon offerings. With it having been released on DVD I watched a little of it with my younger brother and trust me, it didn’t take much speed to catch onto “Racer.” But I digress.

 

This movie’s (and I stress this is a movie, not film) storyline is this: Speed(Hirsch) is a racecar-obsessed kid living in a Technicolor world that looks like “Willy Wonka” on steroids. His childhood love Trixie (Ricci) helped him through high school and is his best friend/ love interest. After winning a race he’s visited by Corporate Owner Royalton (Roger Allam), your quintessential villainous “I can buy your existence” kinda guy, who makes an offer to Speed that unless Speed signs for him, his entire family and life are in jeopardy. This doesn’t bode well with Speed or his dad Pops (Goodman), Mom (Sarandon), his younger brother Spritle (Paulie Litt) or chimp Chim-Chim. Speed is approached by the infamous Racer X (Fox) and Taejo (Rain) to compete in the Casa Christo, the race of thieves, thugs, lowlifes and the desperate; it’s also the race where Speed’s brother was killed. Will Speed win it and go on to the Casa Grande, THE race where he can win a $1 million prize and show-up Royalton? Who is Racer X?

 

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, while I watched the movie the main question going on inside my head was: how do I review this thing. It’s not cheesy. It’s not boring. It’s not bad. Unfortunately, it’s not great, either. What settled in my head was this thought: there is a road between genius and madness, and this movie rips across it with reckless abandon.

 

On a technical level, this is one of the best green-screened movies I’ve ever seen. Yes, it is as visually assaulting as the trailer, with everything in crisp Technicolor; red, blue, orange, black, white, gray, green… if it couldn’t be done in the background, it was done digitally. The length of time the characters were on screen, the car racing, just about everything was done at “ludicrous speed.” (thankya, Mr. Brooks) If you try to get a handle on everything going on in a scene, you’d still be scratching your head over the first ten minutes of the movie.

 

What I will say is that the Wachowski’s have turned conventional storytelling on its ear. The quick-cuts and green-screening together with how they approached the “Speed Racer” formula… it may not be the greatest thing in the world, but it’s an approach that will soon take notice in filmmaking. Watch for it.

 

As for the acting… the “minor” actors of this movie seemed to have more fun than the major ones. Matthew Fox impressed me in the fact that I could believe in his character and that he can do more than crying on cue (sorry “Lost” fans). The other actor having fun with the movie was Richard Roundtree, who I would have never guessed would be in this movie.

 

All-in-all, I enjoyed the movie. My only complaints are that the characters were two-dimensional, and that this movie seemed to suffer from what the Speed fought against: corporate profit for the sake of profit. I wish it had been more fun to watch.

 

My grade: B (overall)