Reviews for The Wachowski siblings’ latest sci-fi opus, Jupiter Ascending, have been decidedly mixed. Some critics and moviegoers have pointed out that the film’s story barely makes any sense and is riddled with cliché, while others have been quick to praise it as a no-brains slice of blockbuster escapism that is, despite the fact that it’s obviously stupid, still visually stunning.
Personally, like 2013’s The Lone Ranger, once I let down my pretensions I found Jupiter Ascending to be a truly rollicking and preposterously entertaining space opera. Sure, like the aforementioned flop, Jupiter Ascending is also ridiculously flawed, while it is also destined to lose an eye-watering amount of money too.
But boy was it a hoot. It was also dripping with homages and references to the array of different movies that influenced the Wachowskis during its conception and production. Think you spotted all of them? Here are 10 that you might have missed.
Halfway through Jupiter Ascending one of the film’s most blatant homages unfolds. Mila Kunis’ Jupiter Jones and Channing Tatum’s Caine Wise are forced to walk through a series of frustrating bureaucratic hell-holes that turn the film into a full-on homage to the 1985 cult classic, Brazil. And just in case you didn’t spot the blatant reference, the Wachowskis decided to have Brazil’s director Terry Gilliam pops up at the end of the scene, too. And just like the film itself, it is obvious, over-the-top, even borderline cheesy, but you still can’t help but smile at it.
On the brink of exchanging vows with Douglas Booth’s Titus Abrasax, inside a spaceship that is a cross between the Playboy Mansion and a Gothic cathedral, Jupiter Jones is cinema’s unhappiest bride since Elaine Robinson in The Graduate. Thank the heavens then that she has her own Benjamin Braddock in the shape of Caine Wise. To stop the nuptials, Caine smashes through the gothic walls of the ship on a spacecraft, much in the way that Braddock banged on the glass and screamed out Elaine’s name. It’s heart-stoppingly tense, while at the same time delightfully romantic.
The culmination of Jupiter Ascending sees Jupiter Jones going toe-to-toe with Balem (Eddie Redmayne) while on board a crashing and exploding spaceship. In amongst the burning debris is an urban skyline made of steel, a smog filled sky, and shafts of depressing light, all of which immediately creates a atmosphere that’s akin to Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic Blade Runner. But that’s not all …
Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith
The perilous battle between Balem and Jupiter takes place as explosions roar and the planet beneath them begins to implode, which reeks of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker’s titanic tussle on the volcano at the end of Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith. But that’s not the only wink towards George Lucas’ beloved franchise by Jupiter Ascending. The space battles are reminiscent of Sith, while Jupiter wears an outfit straight from Queen Amidala’s wardrobe for her wedding. The hackneyed plotting is also akin to George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels, too. (Real estate deals!!)
It’s not just the Wachowskis who tip their collective hat to their influences in Jupiter Ascending. The actors are given free reign to go nuts with their roles, and none do so more than Eddie Redmayne as Balem Abrasax. There is a hint of Gary Oldman in his performance, but, to be honest, it reminded me more of another British actor who has recently taken Hollywood by storm: Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Thor, The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World. Even in the above image he smacks of the Asgard prince, while the interior of his ship even looks like the castle in the City of Asgard too. And while it might not be Oscar worthy, Redmayne’s performance is severely hammy and riotously enjoyable to see unfold.
Godzilla & The Matrix
Channing Tatum going toe-to-toe with a baby Godzilla, what more could you want? How about the Wachowskis utilizing The Matrix’s iconic bullet time visual effect partway through their tussle to a devastatingly enthralling extent?
And just in case that wasn’t scintillating enough for you, Channing Tatum’s Caine Wise dispatches of his lizard-like foe by hanging him too. I would try to explain to you all exactly how he does that, but it just wouldn’t do the scene in question justice.
Jupiter Ascending’s main antagonist, Eddie Redmayne’s Balem Abrasax, is regarded as the film’s big-bad villain because he wants Earth all for himself so that he can harvest its population. That sub-plot is more than similar to the narrative of the 1973 sci-fi cult classic Soylent Green, which is set in a dystopian Earth where the population survives on processed food known as soylent green.
However Balem’s decision to kill off the human race isn’t for food -- it’s so they can be turned into a beauty product that will make him eternally youthful. Basically, the Wachowskis are trying to tell the world that we’re too vain. Subtext was never their strong suit.
From Channing Tatum’s pointy Spock-like ears, to the character’s regimented stance on not-smooching Jupiter Jones, not to mention the fact that Wise is also of albino/wolf/human origin, there are numerous similarities between Caine Wise and the most famous half-vulcan in sci-fi history.
But it’s not just various homages to the old Star Trek series that Jupiter Ascending possesses. It also features the slick visuals, zipping pace, modern humour that JJ Abrams used to reinvigorate the Star Trek franchise back in 2009 too.
Back To The Future: Part II
Not since Marty McFly coaxed Griff Tannen and his evil posse to crash into the local courthouse at the start of Back To The Future: Part II has hovering above the ground looked so cool.
Caine Wise might not be using a hover-board made by Matel, but his hover shoes aren’t half bad though. He uses them to save Mila Kunis from crashing to the ground from a 110 story drop, evading aliens, and he even finds time to grab onto the back of a van for leverage too. If Johnny B Goode had been playing in the background then the pinnacle of cinema would have been recreated in one fail swoop.
Every Movie Sean Bean Dies In
This reference wasn’t made with the Wachowskis’ visuals, framing or writing, or even with Jupiter Ascending’s iconography. This tiny reference was hidden in the midst of the film’s dialogue. Since Sean Bean’s Stringer survives Jupiter Ascending, even though he looked destined to perish on a number of occasions, an in-joke is made that his character "made it through."
That’s because, as any self-respecting moviegoer will more than be aware of, Sean Bean dies in pretty much every movie he ever stars in. I think this is the appropriate occasion to drop a LOL.
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