A lot of things happened in 2010. I was in 9th grade. I loved dancing and films (not much has changed ok), and my biggest care outside of those interests and school, a forced interest of any 14 year old, was what was going to happen on Glee that week. What the characters were going to wear, do, say, sing, and what could possibly be happening in the moments not on screen. Yes, in 2010, I discovered fandom. People that felt a similar amount of passion and concern that I did towards works of fiction, that had wild imaginations, expressed through various art forms. In 2010, with fandom, I discovered fan fiction, another world and escape within itself.
In fanfiction, you find wild, astonishing stuff. You find commitment and passion with stories, stuff that is better than what the writers of said show, film, or book could ever come up with, that is more than triple the length of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Then you find the crazy stuff, stuff that could only be born out of young, fertile imaginations. Alternate universe spinoffs themed from rock bands to bank robbers to everything in between, imagined futures, the characters in ancient time periods. The limitations of fan fiction are endless, worlds that can be build and expanded upon at the will of the writer.
Because of the boundless nature of the medium, imaginations are allowed to go insane, unlimited by word count or parameters in terms of logic or linear narrative. Plots are allowed to spiral out of control, going on large tangents into a confusing mess. It’s almost akin to a blizzard – turn around 3 times, and you have no idea where you are or how to get back. Swap the internet for an $170 million budgeted film and you have Jupiter Ascending, a film that possesses mad alternate universe fan fiction levels of boundless fantasy and convoluted plot mechanics, but is never the less a whole load of fun.
It’s a self consciously silly affair from the beginning, the plot being of the type that takes pages to properly explain. Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is a Russian immigrant, born on a container ship as her mother (Maria Doyle Kennedy) flees Russia after her father (James D’Arcy) is murdered. She works as a cleaner with her mother and aunt until one day she’s rescued by a half-wolf outlaw soldier Caine (Channing Tatum feat. wolf ears, natch) during an egg donation procedure that has been hijacked by evil aliens. Yes, I don’t know either. She then finds out that she is in fact space royalty, the reincarnation of the mother of a set of triplets (Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton) who are currently warring over who owns half the universe, including Earth, which is desirable because of its plentiful opportunities to harvest the serum that keeps their youth.
In the age of incredibly safe studio filmmaking, it’s mystifying as to how Jupiter Ascending exists. Excessively plot detailed to within an inch of its life, it’s impenetrable and the opposite of straightforward and dumbed down, leaping, throwing a handful of glitter while doing it, from one disconnected plot point to another at an alarming pace. Jupiter frequently acts as the audience, looking puzzled enough times, but none the less going along for the ride, impromptu spade weddings, falling from great heights only to be rescued by Channing Tatum multiple times, and all.
Kennedy is just one member of a refreshingly unconventional supporting cast that also includes Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Doona Bae, and is rounded out by Redmayne in a performance that fits the camp, eyelinered, sequinned vibe of the film perfectly. Mincing about, rasping his lines in hushed tones, Redmayne seems to understand the silliness on another level, taking full advantage of its potential.
Incoherently, clunkily scripted and executed, Jupiter Ascending is, regardless, a fun, fast paced action fantasy movie that does exactly what it sets out to do with its 60s-inspired set pieces and costumes – entertain. With countless battles, chase scenes, and some of the most unnecessary lengthy exposition this side of Interstellar, its an complicated and incoherent, but brisk two hours. In short, put Maria Doyle Kennedy in the first scene in your bonkers sci-fi film and I’ll be on board.