Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Hollywood Babble On & On #1217: Jupiter & Originality Descending?

Jupiter Ascending did more of a swift descent and crashed and burned very dramatically. The $173 million sci-fi epic was sunk by the continuing popularity of American Sniper, and SpongeBob Squarepants

Some are saying that its failure is the final nail in the coffin of "original" films not based on previously existing franchise style properties, like comic books, novels, and TV/Movie remakes.

If the fate of original storytelling hung on the shoulders of the Wachowskis it has been doomed for a long time. First, Jupiter Ascending isn't all that original, and on a surface level comes across as a rehash of The Matrix.

Think about it, a person who is way too good looking for their job (Mila Kuni/Janitor/Keanu Reeves/Office-Drone turned hacker) discovers all they know is a fraud, they are the chosen one and must save humanity from a wildly impractical and lethal form of exploitation. In the case of The Matrix its using humans as batteries by robots when the script says they already have nuclear fusion and in Jupiter Ascending its the harvesting of the human race by what can be summed up as an evil cosmetics/pharmaceutical company.

Personally if the fate of originality hung on Jupiter Ascending, then it shows just how weak originality is in Hollywood.

Allow me to explain.

Now Variety and the other doomsayers have a point. Some studio executives will look at Jupiter's failure and say: "See, audiences don't want to see something that doesn't have an already familiar title. So let's reboot that reboot of the remake we did last year."

There's a word for executives who think like that.

That word is "IDIOT."

That mindset comes from just looking at the surface of the issue, but what really sank Jupiter Ascending can be boiled down to one word: INDULGENCE.

Studio people won't see the indulgence, because they had a hand in it. You see, when the first Matrix came out of nowhere and became a monster hit that spawned hundreds of imitators Warner Brothers entered a very rare territory.

The Wachowski Siblings were being hailed as visionaries by critics, and were selling tickets like nobody's business. Thinking they had the perfect storm WB pretty much gave the Wachowskis an almost blank check.

There were limits. They first denied the Wachowskis their idea of doing one sequel, and a prequel about the rise of the machines and the creation of the titular Matrix, but allowed them almost unlimited resources to grind out the visual effects heavy mayhem they had become known for.

That led to the second film being stretched, and many say botched, to fit two films that tried to fill in the gaps in the ideas of truckloads of CGI.

This put the Wachowskis on a downward spiral of cinematic indulgence. The budgets got bigger, the on screen CGI got busier, but the stories and ideas became thinner and the box-office got weaker and weaker.

Warner Brothers kept the money tap going hoping for a return of some of that Matrix magic, and the Wachowskis learned how to play the studio game, pretty masterfully.

You may not remember what it took for the Wachowskis to get the green light for Jupiter. Back in 2011 they had already been cleared for Cloud Atlas, but the studio was getting leery of their relationship with the prickly siblings. Cloud Atlas was a risky bet, that Warner Bros. eventually lost, and they were looking to mitigate their losses on the next Wachowski project.

The Wachowskis played them like a fiddle. They gave them a choice, a "Hard-R" anti-Iraq war movie about gay lovers plotting to kill George W. Bush that would cost $100 million, or a much more expensive sci-fi epic called Jupiter Ascending.

Given a choice between a guaranteed money-loser with a big budget or a bigger budget project with a chance, they once again let the Wachowskis run wild.

Presented with a film that promised nothing but visual indulgence from filmmakers who have been disappointing them in terms of story and emotional connection since 2003 the audience just sighed and stayed home.

That's why Jupiter Ascending flopped.

It's not originality that killed it, it was overindulgence in ego and special effects.

Not that any studio bosses will see that.


  1. I was wondering when you were going to talk about this flop. Did not know it was a Wacthoski film, but some twilight tween space ripoff.

  2. Rainforest Giant12/2/15 1:53 pm

    The problem with this one is that The Wachowskis have lost their mojo completely. They write and direct incoherent crap.

    Guardians of the Galaxy might as well have been original. Nobody I knew, knew who or what the Guardians were before the movie. If it didn't say 'Marvel' on the label most still wouldn't. But that movie stomped the box office because it was original, entertaining and fun.

    If some poor son of a gun has such epically bad judgement that he wants to remove his johnson and take female hormones, he probably shouldn't be trusted with nearly a billion dollars worth of movies. Their product has been crap since Lana indulged his fetish.

  3. "anti-Iraq war movie about gay lovers plotting to kill George W. Bush"

    This sounds like a far left liberal's wet dream as far as plots go. I thought hollywood players loved guaranteed money losers that keep them in the 'cool crowd' and allow them to feel courageous & daring while sticking it to those rubes in flyover country. Maybe not to the tune of 100 million though.

    on another note, I hope you share some thoughts on the oscars in the future. thanks & take care