Yes , JUPITER ASCENDING is either liked or disliked by its viewers (there doesn't seem to be any love or hate for it). I thought it was entertains. Thrilling? No. Thought-provoking? A little. But this is a movie by the Wachowskis, who made the MATRIX movies. They established a high standard for themselves with THE MATRIX. THE MATRIX blew everyone away, and now everyone expects that every other movie the Wachowskis make should blow you away as well. As someone who would love to make movies for a living, I would hate to have to live up to that standard every time I make another movie. So I'm more forgiving of filmmakers that try to do something as ambitious as JUPITER ASCENDING. So kudos to the Wachowskis for at least trying. But the BRAZIL references!!! I'm still geeking out about them. What is this BRAZIL, you ask? It may very well be the best movie you've never seen.
BRAZIL was a movie directed by the great Terry Gilliam. It starred Jonathan Pryce, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, Kim Greist, Bob Hoskins, Jim Broadbent, and in a smaller role, Robert De Niro. The movie was hailed as a near masterpiece at the time, and reviled by others as self-indulgent crap. Whenever I hear reviews like that about a movie, I HAVE to go see it.
BRAZIL blew me away. I had no idea what I was watching at the time. I knew I had seen something significant, but I didn't know what it was. I immediately understood the Don Quixote references, but when I saw it, I was a kid, and did not truly understand the mockery the film was making about bureaucracy and government. Reading about the film when it came out, a reviewer said the the actual country of Brazil is known for its bureaucracy and for its paperwork, which BRAZIL makes fun of at great length. But that's where the similarities end. BRAZIL is a unique blending of black comedy and satire of bureaucracy and government invasiveness and industrial overreach.
I was fascinated. I was stunned. The second I got it on a Criterion Collection DVD, I watched it over and over again. Gilliam is known for hating the happy endings of most Hollywood movies, so he makes it a point in all his movies to have an ending you don't expect. BRAZIL does not disappoint in this area, ending with one of the most vague, disconcerting endings of any movie I've seen. But I loved it. And for a long time, I felt like the only one who did.
Hence my geek freak when I saw JUPITER ASCENDING. For those that don't know, there's a sequence in the film where Mila Kunis' character has to stake her claim on Earth (a long story) by getting the necessary paperwork, title, and certifications in order. Imagine my surprise when the process she has to go through involves virtually the same huge reception desks, the same blasé attitude, AND the same run-around that Kim Greist's character in BRAZIL goes through to report a wrongful arrest. And at the end of the parade of bureaucrats is Terry Gilliam himself!!!
What a fitting high-five to the brilliance of BRAZIL, a movie that is continuously proving itself correct on all its wild and wacky predictions about the "future." The only thing that would have made me pass out would have been if someone had required something to be filled out in triplicate (or quadruplicate, or quintuplicate, etc..). After the poor woman at the beginning of BRAZIL gets an "arrest receipt" for her husband and has to press hard to get the carbon on all three layers of the receipt to have good purchase, I would have freaked out completely if Mila Kunis' character did the same.
A high-five from a fellow "Brazillian" to the heretofore unknown (at least to me) "Brazillian" Wachowskis, and I humbly request that you keep making ambitious films. It's only the mediocre who truly mock ambition: trying and failing is easy to mock; YOU trying and failing requires direct involvement and risk. And risk is something a lot of people will avoid like the plague.