Forget the Reviews, Go See ‘Jupiter Ascending’


I’m unaccustomed to recommending movies I find bad or, in this case, mediocre. I suppose you could say this is the equivalent of knowingly cooking bland food for house guests, so this is a bit of a new experience for me. So here it goes: I need all of you to take your hard-earned money and go see Jupiter Ascending.

Yes, the movie has a 22% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Yes, the script is filled with more clichés and bad dialogue than any Keanu Reeves movie is capable of. And yes, this movie isn’t exactly what we’d call the reemergence of Star Wars. Regardless, go to the theatre. Pay money. Get a ticket. Buy a delicious blue-raspberry Icee. Why? Because this movie had a giant budget and is an original property. You know what that means? It means it’s not a sequel, reboot, remake or based on any novel or comic book.

Jupiter Ascending

You see, Hollywood has increasingly become adverse to funding original properties with big budgets. Typically you’ll see maybe one a year if you’re lucky. And who can blame them? Last summer I asked, nay, I begged people to go see Edge of Tomorrow, because it was incredible and yet practically no one saw it in theaters. Before that it was Pacific Rim, which seemed to interest no one (What about giant robots punching giant monsters do people not understand?). Now granted, one of these two is based on a preexisting property, albeit a relatively unknown one. But you can see why producers are wary to risk giving a film big funding if movie-goers won’t go see the ones they do give big budgets to.

Last year I can think of one movie, Interstellar, that fit in the category of a new property that made a lot of money, and I suspect the only reason it got the budget it did was the name recognition of Christopher Nolan.

This brings us back to my original plea: go see Jupiter Ascending. I know you’ve complained, either secretly or out loud, that there seem to be way to many comic book movies out there, or that both Batman and Spider-Man are being rebooted way too soon, or that all we seem to get these days are mediocre sequels and adaptations of terrible books (Can we all pretend 50 Shades of Grey isn’t actually happening?). Well guess what, the universe has seen fit to give us all another chance to show Hollywood that we are ready to reward their financial risks.

rocket boots


Having said all that, let me allay some of your fears about going to see what you could presume to be a humongous pile of crap, because there were some genuinely cool things in this movie. For starters, Jupiter Ascending does some phenomenal world building with dozens of unique alien species, colorful planets and a rich history only briefly hinted at. Action sequences are intense, especially a dog fight over downtown Chicago, and will keep you entertained. You’ll love to see Eddie Redmayne play an incredibly weird and creepy villain who likes to speak through his teeth. And, oh yeah, crazy hover skates. Seriously, I hope those things will be invented by the time the hover skateboard from Back to the Future Part II makes it to the market.

I pray this has been enough to convince you, because I’m telling you true that if this movie makes the big bucks you can expect that another original film will be released in the near future and it will have the budget it deserves and will hopefully be much higher quality.

Forget the Reviews, Go See ‘Jupiter Ascending’

End the Summer Movie Season


August is coming to an end, the summer movie season has finished and I’m left delightfully pleased with most of this summer’s lineup. Films like Edge of Tomorrow, Godzilla, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy (which came in an extremely close second to Dawn in my opinion) either met or wildly exceeded my expectations and helped to make this summer of movies truly glorious. Even the ones that I haven’t seen yet like Boyhood, Snowpiercer and 22 Jump Street received hearty welcomes from crowds and critics alike.

And yet despite the large number of quality movies released in the last four months, many of which hold an approval rating in the 90’s on the Tomatometer, this summer is being lauded as the lowest grossing summer movie season in over eight years. What gives? It’s obvious that some of these movies should have made more money than they did, but fewer people are going to see them and instead waiting for the inevitable release at their local Redbox.

It hit me that the format of the summer movie season itself may be the actual problem we’re facing here. And this is coming from the guy who sometimes looks forward to this time of the year more than Christmas. Actually, Christmas is the perfect example to explain my point.

Let’s imagine for a second that Christmas were actually a three-month holiday instead of one day in the year (or a month if you consider Black Friday the beginning of Christmas). It’s too much, right? If the holiday carols didn’t drive you crazy, the constant drive to buy people gifts would. In short, it’s oversaturation of an idea, one that Sesame Street taught me years ago when Elmo wished (in the third person, of course) that every day was Christmas and single-handedly caused the collapse of society as we know it … Thanks a lot Elmo.

With ticket prices rising, and different movies either competing on the same day or within following weeks of one another during the summer, movie premieres seem less and less special on their own, which means there’s a greater likelihood that fewer people are going to see and support good movies.

Nowhere was this more apparent than with the release of The Fault in Our Stars and Edge of Tomorrow a few months back. It’s a sin how few people saw the latter, although admittedly Edge of Tomorrow is about as generic of a title as you can get. I mean, come on, the source material was called All You Need is Kill. How much more awesome of a title do you need?!

It’s still a shame in my eyes that so few people took the time to watch this incredible piece of action, sci-fi and Groundhog’s Day.

Regardless, both films premiered at the same time with decent or great critical reviews, but only one brought home buckets of cash. I’d like to think that had you spaced out their release dates by a few weeks, more people might have seen both films.

In this respect, I applaud Marvel studios for setting the release date of Captain America: The Winter Soldier to spring, a full month before the summer movie season officially kicked off. Had it been released any closer to May, it would have competed with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which means both films would have made less money.

While it’s unlikely that this will happen, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, I think it’s time that studios start disbanding the idea of packing as many big budget blockbusters in just a few short months and instead spread them out. Make them special again. Because even though some of us are willing to dish out the money to see a different movie every week, most need a break in between.

End the Summer Movie Season