You know exactly what happens in Jupiter Ascending, even if you've never seen the trailer.Â Pick a trope—any trope—and it's there. There's the downtrodden heroÂ destined for greatness; the last-minute save; the opposites-attract protagonists so seemingly mismatched that one "has more in common with a dog" than the other. There are no fewer than three plot points straight out of The Matrix, the movie that made Andy and Lana Wachowski famous in the first place. The script is uneven, the editing is weird, the performances are weirder, and, for added measure, it all lacks focus.
Now shut up and go buy a ticket.
Do it because Jupiter Ascending, despite all that I've said so far, is a big, beautiful space movie—the kind we get entirely too few of. Because Mila Kunis (the eponymous Jupiter) is charming. Because Channing Tatum (as Caine Wise, a name that somehow manages to be more ridiculous than Jupiter) is a half-dog-but-mostly-guy who seems to resent wearing a shirt. Because there are sweet-ass intergalactic space battles. Because you get to see a giant summer movie in February. Because it'll be the biggest thrill you get until Avengers: Age of Ultron arrives in May.
Do it because the Wachowskis' world-building talents are untouchable. Jupiter's is a mix of present-day Chicago, gold-gilded steampunk cities in faraway galaxies, and spaceships that look like a 12-year-old's imagination come to life. Is the movie about a woman who didn't know she was the pseudo-reincarnation of the matriarch of a dynasty and who falls in love with a dog-man on space-rollerblades? Yes. BUT IT LOOKS DOPE. (Right down to the Terry Gilliam-staffed office where she files the paperwork for her birthright.)
Do it because of Eddie Redmayne. Outside of Les MisÃ©rables superfans, virtually no one knew him before he played Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. That stellar performance was all about reserve and dignity, and it earned him a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. If, on the other hand, you want to see him fly off the handle on some I-sound-like-Darth-Vader-is-holding-my-windpipe high-camp insanity, then this is the movie for you. When we spoke to Redmayne about the film, he said Lana Wachowski would often direct him to "play it like an accountant." Well, we don't know who Lana's accountant is, but it's tax season, and we want Balem Abrasax itemizing our deductions. If anyone could get us a refund, it's this guy.
Do it because the movie's an original story (aside from the many narrative crutches). The Wachowski siblings haven't done one of those since The Matrix Revolutions in 2003. That's twelve years ago. And considering we live in a world where every promising new director is handed a prefab franchiseâ€”Gareth Edwards went from Monsters to Godzilla, Colin Trevorrow is going from Safety Not Guaranteed to Jurassic World, and so onâ€”we need to support genre auteurs who actually keep, y'know, making new stuff. The Wachowskis releasing something new, even if it's derivative, is more refreshing than a movie based on IP that's been around for decades.
There's more. Do it because something needs to unseat American Sniper at the box office. Because Redmayne might win an Oscar. Because it's almost Valentine's Day and Channing Tatum does it for pretty much everyone. Because if enough people see this movie, maybe the Wachowskis will ascend to their rightful thrones as directors of one of those Star Wars spin-offs like Josh Trank is getting to do. Because shit flying through space is cool.
But mostly, do it because the Wachowskis are part of a shrinking species: original sci-fi filmmakers. And in these long, cold months before the Marvel machine cranks back up, it's good to remember what those look likeâ€”for better or worse.