I Finally Watched Jupiter Ascending (And I Fucking Love It)

You know, Matrix aside, I actually have a lot of time for the Wachowskis back catalogue.

From Sense8 to Bound to Cloud Atlas, I’ve always found their stuff pretty fundamentally watchable: often tongue-in-cheek, often big, sweeping, blockbustery entertainment, often a bit silly in the best way possible. Their directorial efforts are far from perfect, of course, but they’re always interesting, and – again, I feel the need to just make a point here, Matrix aside – I have vowed to give everything they ever make a go.

Which brings us to Jupiter Ascending. At the time of its release, back in 2015, reading the reviews was better entertainment than watching the movie: people were baffled by its tremendous awfulness, by the instantly-iconic and totally camp Eddie Redmayne villain, for its baffling and enormous daftness. I avoided it at the time, pretending for a hot second that I don’t actually love terrible movies, but now, locked down and with nothing better to do, I decided: it’s time. I am the queen of dreadful cinema, and this movie, it seemed was my king.

I want to take a brief diversion now and talk to you a little about fanfiction. I’m a big defender of fanfiction; I think it’s gotten a bad rep over the years, because it’s so strongly associated with teenage girls and society loves nothing more than dunking on that which teen girls like, but, honestly, as a writer (dusts off shoulders) myself, fanfiction was a great place for me to learn how to write. There are a lot of great writers in the world of fanfiction, and even more writers who will one day be great working out their styles in worlds they already know and love.

So what does fanfiction have to do with Jupiter Ascending, you might ask? Well, hear me out: Jupiter Ascending is the biggest-budget, widest-recieved, highest-stakes fanfiction of all time.

Of course, actually, functionally, it is not: Jupiter Ascending is not drawn from any other specific media that I’m aware of, no matter how much I have decided that it canonically takes place in the same universe as my book, Rape Jokes. But this movie – shit, guys, this movie hits all the fanfiction tropes that make those stories so much fun to write. And I kind of love it as a result.

You’ve got your traditional self-insert female lead, played by Mila Kunis. She’s secretly the most important person in the entire universe, while also being a bangin’ hottie who just Isn’t Appreciated By The People Around Her. Enter Dog-Boy, a furry fantasists’ dream, a part-canine hybrid played by Channing Tatum on cosmic roller skates, who sweeps in to rescue her and take her off on an intergalactic adventure where she is revealed to be, actually, a fucking princess. There’s a hurt/comfort scene where she tends his wounds, for fuck’s sake! The fanfiction writer in me can’t get enough!

What follows are a delicious amalgamation of tropes that feel like someone got into my high school notebook and used it for serious inspiration. A cluster of Hot, Sexy, Slightly Nasty men try to get into Mila Kunis’ pants, including Eddie Redmayne’s be-eyelinered and vaguely gender-non-conforming villain (and, oh my God, I fucking love how ridiculous Redmayne takes this – it’s a masterful, Ming-the-Merciless performance, coming from a fresh-baked Oscar winner, and I’m obsessed). A young girl coughs a single time on-screen, because obviously, she has a terrible illness. The backstory is vast and a little confusing and probably just makes sense if you lay it all out properly, but often feels as though it’s coming from someone who assumes you already get the gist of what’s going on and don’t want to waste time going through the detail of someone else’s universe.

Jupiter Ascending, for all that it is utterly ridiculous and extremely, deeply silly, reminds me distinctly of the feeling that I got writing fanfiction when I was a teenager – that breathless, fuck-it-why-not-this excitement, slapping shit together because I wanted to see if I could do it. I’m not saying it’s a good film, though I do think reviews at the time were a little harsh on it – but damn, if, like me, you grew up on fanfiction, this is your favourite, most ambitious fics brought to life on the big screen. And it’s kind of glorious.

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more stuff like it,  please consider supporting us on Ko-Fi. You can check out more of my work on my personal blog, The Cutprice Guignol!

By Louise MacGregor

(header image via Little White Lies)

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