This post has been previously posted as a review on letterboxd.com
This review reportedly contains spoilers.
Well, the rumors are true. This is not a masterpiece. 😉 Seriously, this is fun to watch once, but not that great a movie. The story of a russian immigrant girl in Chicago who cleans toilets with her mum and doesn’t really have anything (including luck with men and a telescope like her father used to have) which then becomes a reborn space princess who inherits earth and is caught in between a family feud couldn’t be more ‘out of space’. But it could have been a better story with characters you actually care for and less cliché-d plotpoints.
What the movie does – well – kind of great is action sequences and visual effects. The ships look very cool. The 3D is quite good. It doesn’t really look like anything you might have seen in a modern scifi flick and I admire that work, it is grand in scale and, just like Star Wars, does a great job in coming up with different environments and gadgets especially for fights and extended shooting sequences on earth and in space. But once those are done you realise that thick layers of exposition are ruthlessly dropped onto the audience to drive a really meaningless plot that doesn’t create anythign coherent. There are twists and turns, but nothing really works and sometimes all this feels like taken from a bad guide book to writing a screenplay. And you never really get to know the main characters which – unsurprisingly – meet and fall in love for no apparent reason and none of them develops to any noticeable degree. The “Matrix-arc” of the heroine is obvious but it’s nothing you really care about and she never gets a real payoff (unlike Neo did). Standard damsel-in-distress, but she gets new shoes in the final scene. Everything else: Quite repetitive.
Plus, none of the more interesting parts of the story get a real explanation, like: How is the magical substance that drives the stellar economy created from people? (Soylent Green? Spice?) Is it controlled by only one family? Why are humans not grown in a more Matrix-like, space-efficient fashion? Why is everybody so afraid of Jupiter Jones? Because she controls bees? And why can she be an heir of house Abrasax on the same level as the actual children without being a child of their mother or being even remotely related? And is she named after the German band of the same name?
But (after movies like Brazil, Hitchhiker’s Guide and The Twelve Tasks of Asterix) this movie has one of the best enactments of bureaucratic idiocy ever put on film and it fittingly features Terry Gilliam. There’s half a star only for this.
There are worse movies to waste popcorn on but this not only lacks the depth of the Matrix movies (Sorry, you’ll always be compared with those) it also lacks basic screenplay skills.