jupiter ascending

My Lady, Jupiter

So Jupiter Ascending came up in conversation earlier and this essay summed up why I still feel it’s an important movie.

Kaiju Nellie’s Plus-Sized Blog

Jupiter Ascending was kind of a dumb movie. It was one of those dumb movies that I couldn’t get enough of. I saw it four times in theaters, and I’m a little bit upset that I did not see it at least one more time. The nonsensible plot, the bizarre visuals, the way it sort of repeated its midpoint for its final act. I became obsessed with this film when it came out in theaters.

I’ve been a fan of the Wachowskis. I loved the Matrix when I saw it. I kinda liked its sequels. But the film that stood out in their filmography for me (at least until I saw Bound) was Speed Racer. Speed Racer is a masterpiece. I say that without a shred of irony. And I don’t mean I like it in the same way I enjoy Jupiter Ascending. Jupiter Ascending is a big dumb clunky beautiful…

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100 FILMS IN 2015Jupiter Ascending (2015)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“I CREATE LIFE!! …And I destroy it.”

Yep. Jupiter Ascending is GLORIOUS.




I’m not a film studies person, but I was thinking about Jupiter Ascending and The Matrix. Just the first Matrix, I have no time for the other two. 

Boys and girls are different, you know that? Little boys have fantasies in which they’re faster, or smarter, or able to fly. Where they hide their faces in secret identities and listen to the people who despise them admiring their remarkable deeds. Pathetic, bespectacled, rejected Perry Porter is secretly The Amazing Spider. Gawky, bespectacled, unloved Clint Clarke is really Hyperman.

“Now, little girls, on the other hand, have difference fantasies. Much less convoluted. Their parents are not their parents. Their lives are not their lives. They are princesses. Lost princesses from distant lands. And one day the King and Queen, their real parents, will take them back to their land, and then they’ll be happy for ever and ever.”

– The Cuckoo, A Game of You by Neil Gaiman

I read those comics over and over when I was younger. There were a few bits that really stuck with me. This was one of them, because for me it was definitely true.

I saw Jupiter Ascending over the weekend. I enjoyed it immensely, although I don’t think I would ever go so far as to call it a good movie. But it got me thinking. 

The Matrix is an archetypal boys’ story. Neo is the Chosen One. He goes from being boring and ordinary to knowing kung fu, being able to fly – when he becomes The One, he is literally limited only by the scope of his own imagination.

Jupiter Ascending is an archetypal girls’ story. I’ve seen it referred to over and over as a well-made big-budget equivalent of a writer’s first fic: the terrible Mary Sue self-insert princess with the alliterative and meaningful name who falls for a gruff loner space werewolf named Caine Wise (really? Not Caine Nine?). People threaten her and she is rescued, because she is precious and worth rescuing – initially only for their promised reward but eventually for her own sake. She is declared to be space royalty in a faintly ridiculous but apparently incontrovertible fashion, and she runs the gamut of clichés (including an interrupted wedding and a kidnapped family) on her way to an ultimate sacrifice that still somehow results in a happy ending where the major difference in her life is that she is content with it (and also she has a sexy space-werewolf boyfriend and some hover-skates). 

I guess what I’m trying to say is, The Matrix and Jupiter Ascending are two sides of the same coin. They take the childhood stories associated with each gender and mix them with impressive cinematography and costumes. (I do wonder about Lana – if perhaps she has always identified more with the Jupiter Ascending storyline than with the Matrix, and now that she’s out she can put her childhood myth on the big screen along with the more stereotypically male one. If so, I hope she enjoyed making it as much as I enjoyed seeing it.)

Coming back to what I said earlier. 

I enjoyed it immensely, although I don’t think I would ever go so far as to call it a good movie.

Why not? Is Jupiter Jones a dumber name than “Neo”? (Yes, I know he was originally Thomas Anderson, but he goes by Neo throughout the movies.) Is Caine Wise a dumber name than Trinity? Is Laurence Fishburne a better mentor than Sean Bean? (Okay, maybe I would pick him if I got the choice. Hanging out with him and Gina Torres would be awesome. But that’s more or less a matter of taste.) Does it make less sense for humans to be processed into fountain-of-youth goo than turned into giant batteries? (IMO it actually makes more sense, because while it is highly implausible it at least doesn’t necessarily violate thermodynamics.)

But The Matrix is lauded as a sci-fi classic. It has 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. Jupiter Ascending has 22%. I’ll admit the main points of its plot could be presented slightly more coherently at the start, but that’s really not enough to account for the discrepancy.

So what is? Why did I start this by saying I wouldn’t call it a good movie?
I really meant it when I typed it, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it was my own internalised misogyny causing me to distance myself from any presentation of the “girly” archetype. I don’t know if I’ll have time to see it again at the cinema, but I want to see it with this thought firmly in place:

Jupiter Ascending is a female equivalent of The Matrix. Visually impressive, couple of holes in the plot, definitely a lot of fun. But I (and who knows how many others) have held myself at a distance because I don’t want to be associated with girly things. Even if you dress it up with spacesuits and dogfights and occasional ladies in lingerie, this film draws its inspiration from the stories little girls tell themselves. The stories we are ridiculed for, and eventually pushed back from, so that we can be respected. 

In the past decade, superhero movies have enjoyed a resurgence. I love them, and I’m not going to stop going to them. But wouldn’t it be nice if these female monomyths were given the same space and cultural acceptance, so that girls didn’t need to be ashamed of them?


I think it’s also pretty important that in this one movie we were given a RANGE of female fantasies. If you can’t identify with everygirl wide-eyed Jupiter Jones, you had conniving Kalique, or single-minded laser-shooting-motorbike-rising Razo, or coolly-in-command Diomika Tsing, or hyper-competent-close-to-power Famulus, or cranky-but-loving-mom Aleksa, and each of these characters is a fully-realized character with her own NAME and backstory that you can dream of developing further for yourself. There were a huge number of Really Cool female characters to work with which I rarely see in other SFF films… usually we get one or two. 

Pretty sure Matrix is mostly considered a classic because of the then-cutting-edge special effects and the “everything is an illusion” thing, but basically, yes.

Where The Matrix is cold, Jupiter is warm. Where The Matrix feels constrained, claustrophobic, Jupiter presents a vast universe brimming with life. It is bright, colorful, extravagant. If The Matrix is the story someone tells when they’ve been down so long that they’ve forgotten what the sky looks like, Jupiter Ascending is what happens when they’ve finally stepped out the door and are unable and unwilling to pull their heads back down from the clouds. The Matrix is a movie about being in the closet, Jupiter Ascending is about coming out.






do you want to see a movie where you have no idea what is going on for the first forty-five minutes? jupiter ascending is the film for you! other highlights include:

  • a ten minute long spaceship fight with no context or purpose, which destroys a city. “no one will remember” channing tatum growls as they leave the city, as if youtube does not exist
  • “here’s a latke for you, bitch”
  • someone using a menstrual pad as a bandage by slapping the sticky part onto the wound, leaving the actual blood-absorbing part just kind of…waving around
  • actors chewing the scenery so hard i’m surprised beautifully over-constructed bits of space metal aren’t just falling out of their mouths
  • a man trying to shoot thousands of bees in the middle of a cornfield
  • a gun that makes dog noises. it barks. the gun barks. 
  • oedipus complexes so beautifully twisted and terrible that you will spend half the movie mouthing “oh my god” to yourself
  • related to that, the climactic line of the movie is “i’m not your damn mother,” so take that as you will
  • a breathtakingly gorgeous and complex universe used as a background for a romance between woman and a man. granted, the man is a wolf angel. but still.
  • I CREATE LIVES……………….
  • [whispers] and destroy them

no i’m sorry i have to keep going

  • “bees can sense royalty”
  • mila kunis having the powerful realization partway through that she is a furry, an epiphany that changes her life
  • “i love dogs” she whispers, eyes wide
  • “bees can sense royalty”
  • channing tatum, shirtless in the void of space
  • soylent green nectar…….is…………….peeeeoplllle
  • “bees can sense royalty”
  • sean bean’s apparent daughter, who shows up onscreen for a minute and a half, leaves to get supplies for dinner, and never comes back
  • yeah sean bean is in this too i didn’t believe it either
  • “bees can sense royalty”
  • a space wedding. it’s just like an earth wedding. BUT IN SPACE
  • mila kunis’ character’s name is jupiter
  • yes i am dead serious about this
  • she spends most of the movie falling
  • they really should have called it “jupiter descending” because that’s all she does
  • “bees can sense royalty”

All that repetition of how bees can sense royalty, and you leave out the fact that the bees were an alarm system set up by Sean Bean, who is part bee.

Did you seriously leave out Channing Tatum’s flying rollerskates?


With a relatable main character, a Cinderella fantasy, elaborate fashions, and a hunky hero, it’s no wonder why so many women fell in love with Jupiter Ascending. If the movie had only aimed more at this demographic, perhaps it could’ve had a less brutal impact upon its release. The studio may not have realized that young girls who loved movies like Labyrinth when they were five would love Jupiter Ascending when they were 30, but thankfully, we’ve found it and embraced it for ourselves. And I’d bet, in time, you’ll be seeing Jupiter costumes at conventions alongside Padme Amidala, Rey, and Leeloo.

Casey Cipriani making a prediction I can get behind in a lovely article in support of Jupiter Ascending (via fuckyeahjupiterascending)