Review of Jupiter Asending – Just don’t bother

Drink in that picture isn’t it very pretty? Yep it’s lovely. Congratulations you’ve got the best that this film has to offer. Which film is it you ask? Why it is Jupiter Ascending of course the latest offering from the Wachkowski’s of Matrix, Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas fame.

Review

Typically, I put a plot synopsis before these reviews afterall it good to give everyone an idea of the film. I’m not bothering in this case though because, the plot of this one is almost completely non-existent. No one connected with the writing of this film spent anytime looking at the script of dialogue for this one and boy oh boy does it show.

I’m a fan of the Wachowski’s and I’m a fan sci-fi who enjoys space opera. It isn’t a genre that gets put out much in blockbuster form in the cinema anymore. In fact big budget action films don’t get put out anymore unless they are a Marvel properties.

Finding myself unexpectedly with a free afternoon and finding that Ex Machina wasn’t on for hours but Jupiter Ascending in 3D was I took the plunge and stumped up for a ticket plus 3d glasses. I’m not asking for my money back but it was close.

To give the film a brief bit of praise it is visually stunning and if you are going to see it you might as well see it in 3D. The extra dimension whilst not in any way necessary does at least provide an extra veneer of entertainment and as 3D goes it is done really well.

I can’t put it off any longer lets talk about the “plot”.

The main character is a princess who gets to inherit Earth as her birthright. Far enough you think lets run with that only it isn’t that simple because, technically she is a reincarnation of the mother of this family that owns the planet Earth along with thousands of other planets. How is she a reincarnation you ask?

Well as a brief bit of dialogue tells us it is spiritual for these space humans so we wouldn’t understand it but be assured audience that the main character is an exact genetic replica of the ruling matriarch of this space royal family and therefore she can inherit. Do her children like this though? Well the daughter kind of seems to. One son wants to marry his mother so he can then kill her and get Earth (talk about mommy issues) and the other son (Eddie Redmayne) just wants mommy dearest dead.

You might be confused by all that but let me assure I’ve given it as much thought if not more than the film makers did. Theoretically, this reincarnation idea that could be interesting and the directors have certainly shown themselves willing/able to deal with complex issues in other sci-fi films they have done.

In this case though there is no explanation or thought about the plot or Lord forbid any themes. Instead I found myself wondering about incidental things such as how stupid is the dad to fight over and get killed over a telescope when the robbers are leaving? If the main character is meant to be an exact genetic replica of the mother shown in the stature then why doesn’t the statute look more like her? Or even more puzzlingly if the main character has a Russian family but has lived and worked in the USA all her life then why does her Russian/American cousin have a broad Aussie accent? When you are watching a sci-fi film with talking dinosaurs, bee-man hybrids, wolf-man hybrids and you are wondering about such things than you know the film is in deep smelly trouble without a paddle.

If the film isn’t a classic then you might hope to enjoy it either as cheesy fun or as so-bad-it’s-good fodder. Sadly, it doesn’t do either. The actor performances are all very toned down save for Eddie Redmayne who is doing some bizarre low voice thing that might be his attempt at scenery chewing camp but succeeds neither in being entertaining or making you think he is a villain of any note.

The film then lacks any interesting characters, plot or stakes. The characters kind of wonder from one event to another without ever being in any threat.

Even when Channing Tatum’s character is dumped out of an airlock there is no sense of peril. There is no hint at how he will survive but you can’t believe that the film would kill a character off or come up with a clever way for the character to live and so it doesn’t. Tatum’s wolf-man hybrid survives because he kicked off a piece of the space ship as he was ejected and this piece of spaceship apparently doubles as a space suit. So the bad guys are so incompetent that when executing someone by spacing him they leave behind a spacesuit for him to survive! WTF! If I wasn’t so bored by this point that a nap seemed interesting I might have got annoyed.

Jupiter Ascending has little to it apart from looking good. Given how they adapted Cloud Atlas to the big screen one can only presume that the Wachowski’s felt the need to do something more narratively simple as a palate cleanser. Unfortunately, Jupiter Ascending doesn’t cleanse the palate but leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

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Review of Jonathan Creek ‘The Letters of Septimus Noone’ (some spoilers but why would you care the writers didn’t)

Remember when he used to live in a windmill and solve crimes? The writers don't.

Remember when he used to live in a windmill and solve crimes? The writers don’t.

After beating boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard British boxer Terry Downes commented that “I didn’t beat Robinson. I beat his ghost”.

Well, after watching the latest episode of Jonathan Creek I understand his comments. I watched the ghost of a once enjoyable show shuffle around on my TV screen and oh how I wish I could have given it a sharp punch to the solar plexus.

If you haven’t seen Jonathan Creek before it used to be a light hearted murder mystery series in the style of Monk. The unique selling point was that the crimes in Jonathan Creek were locked door mysteries or other impossible crimes.

Now not to put the rose tinted spectacles on too much but at least the old episodes were always creative. Some of the ‘solutions’ may have been weak but at least they were always outside the box. In this episode of Jonathan Creek there is no murder. There is no mystery.

Before the episode started I mused to the people I was watching with that the one thing Jonathan Creek was lacking was a great villain. Someone who the titular main character could pit his wits against and perhaps be tested by. Alas though it never happened and now I can almost guarantee it never will because, everyone involved in this series has simply stopped trying.

I’ve seen bad detective shows and films. Instances where the killer is doing impossible things or I don’t believe that person who they say did it could possible be the murderer. What I have never seen however, is an episode like this episode of Jonathan Creek.

What wrong wrong with it you ask? Well there was no interesting crime or even attempt at an interesting crime.

Just think about this for a minute. The calling card of the show is completely absent. We the audience see the accidental murder/manslaughter and it’s not even worth talking about. Added to this the character Jonathan Creek is not interested either he doesn’t bother to spend time trying to solve the crime.

Instead we get a bad Saturday Night Style sketch parody of the hyper-observational modern day TV detective and D-plot supernatural occurrence explained an automatic vacuum cleaner.

A D-plot by the way which is solved by Mr Creeks wife and in no way intersects with the supposed A-plot. Oh a b-plot, which has more screen time than the A-plot ,and revolves around Mrs Creek’s father’s entirely natural death and the potential infidelity of his long dead wife.

An infidelity which the father didn’t know about and which it turned out never even happened. Much of the story then revolves around two characters we have never seen and the emotional effect they have on Mrs Creek who was introduced as a tertiary character an episode ago.

Could the stakes get any lower? Could the writers and actors care less? I don’t see how.

Why did anyone think the audience would care about this? I don’t believe they did. These episodes can only have been written to fulfill a contract already made/a deal with the devil. Furthermore, since the series is being put out on a Friday night in February you can be sure that the BBC didn’t think anyone would care about this either.

So I’ll finish with a plea to everyone involved in the series. If you don’t want to make anymore Jonathan Creeks please just stop making them. Don’t continue to take a giant steaming dump on a show that was at one time enjoyable.

Review and Thoughts on and from Man of Steel

Even the actors were yawning (understandable but you still need to put your hand over your mouth Mr Shannon)

Even the actors were yawning or in pain (understandable but you still need to put your hand over your mouth Mr Shannon)

I ummmed and aaahhhed about bothering to write about this. After all Man of Steel (MofS) was out some time ago and so a review of it is hardly prescient to the wider world. Plus there will be around 1/2 a trillion million billion reviews on the film out there so fresh ground would be hard to hoe.

Ultimately though I have decided to write about MofS because, I have some strong opinions about the the film.  I have strong opinions on the character Superman and I think this film is an interesting comparison to other Superhero/comicbook movies. Plus I only watched MofS for the first time yesterday.

So cards on the table time I am not a big Superman fan. I never really read comics growing up but I sure as hell watched a lot of cartoons. Spiderman, X-men, Batman, assorted other marvel/DC comic characters. I had enough of a background to make an informed decision of whether I liked Superman or not. I did not like Superman.

I have always found Superman an incredibly boring character. In the parlance of modern video games he is too OP. Superman is indestructible. He is super strong, super fast, can fly, deflect bullets and is just generally a God. There is no threat of him being defeated because, he can’t be. I don’t find him an accessible or interesting character.

Look its Superman (well it might as well be)

Look its Superman (well it might as well be)

Even in MofS where Superman is facing other Kryptonians and he might be beatable there is still no interest. This is because, I don’t care about Superman. In MofS Superman is to charisma as off white paint is to colourful. He is just dull and nothing is done to make him a likeable character. The script may be partially to blame for this but I feel confident in calling it Henry Cavill is an awful actor.

Cavill clearly got the role because, he looked like Superman. A fact which was confirmed in his interview on the Graham Norton show.

Beefcake

Beefcake

This interview focused on the kickass exercise regime which Cavill had undergone to look like Superman because, acting is unimportant but Superman’s abs will give the women something to look at. The same goes for every other character in MofS they are all throwaway and I don’t care about any of them.

In particular the addition of Laurence Fishbourne and the other journalists was redundant. All they did was add extra running time to an already over long film.

This was a film of plot point to plot point there was no character development that I found interesting or realistic. Superman saves a school bus. You’d think the parents of the other childrenwould be down on their knees thanking him but they seem vaguely annoyed did they not love their children?

This was supposed to fit into the idea of how would humanity would deal with the emergence/discovery of a powerful alien living amongst them? I seem to remember Slumberman commenting about the idea that my earth-dad thought I would need to hide myself as humanity wasn’t ready for me but bio-dad wanted me to save humanity/ act like an example to others. This could have been an interesting idea to explore. It never was. I found this especially annoying as by having Superman surrender himself to the human’s there was an opportunity to do this.

Exploring this idea is not an action scene though and as such the idea is quickly dropped. Instead Zac Snyder gives us a bunch of throwaway actions scenes that are dull and forgettable. Although I should say I have no problem with Superman killing Zod. Zod was trying to commit genocide. I don’t know why people seemed to get hung up on this but then as I said I don’t care about the character of Superman.

I was so bored watching it. Although the film did generate some questions and thoughts. Firstly, why does technologically advanced Krypton not have video and instead use weird fluid metal?

Secondly, isn’t Superman’s dad also a bad guy. Zod was defeated in his insurrection attempt and placed in the phantom zone. So by stealing the codex all Superman’s dad was doing was impose his political beliefs that babies made by bonking are better than clones on his entire people. Who gave him the right to decide this for an entire civilization?

Third Superman destroyed a town in Kansas near his farm when fighting Lady Zod. I think the US government would have noticed this and have used it to narrow down where Superman’s earth-mom lived. Why then is Superman so confident at the end that no one could find out where he “hangs his cape”? Oh right he’s stupid.

Fourthly, exactly what did David S Goyer contribute to the writing of the Nolan Batman trilogy?

All those films are so good (compared to MofS even the 3rd Batman looks like a masterpiece) but everything Goyer writes without the Nolan brothers is awful.

That Da Vinci TV show sucked the big one and his credits are filled with awful awful projects like Jumper and Flashforward. How does this guy keep getting work?

Fifthly, what do producers do? How could Nolan allow his name to be attached to MofS. Surely he is rich enough already.

Lastly, how long can the film studio’s keep churning out these CGI laden dull periless films and expect people to keep going to them? Out of all the superhero films over the last decade and a half (!) I would content that only the three Batman films, Spiderman and the first Iron Man film are actually good films. That means that 15 plus superhero films made a lot of money but were at best poor or satisfactory. Of course they still made a lot of money.

So there you have it Superman Man Of Steel 1 out of 5 but a lot of questions.