You know what the problem with Jupiter Ascending was?

The plot and the dialogue? It looked nice and that was it. When I reviewed it I found there really wasn’t much to say but maybe it could have been more fun with either MORE wackiness or more jokes or in the other direction, a more serious plot or really anything to get it away from the point it landed that meant that it wasn’t serious enough or funny enough or quite enough enough.

So I was on the Castalia House blog – yes, yes, I shouldn’t do that to myself – and Jeffro apparently has discovered the answer:

“But the acting and the dialog is not what ultimately ruined this film. Structuring it around a female romantic lead did.” http://www.castaliahouse.com/spaceoperaweek-jupiter-ascendings-biggest-problem/

mmmmmm, nope I’m pretty sure it was the dialogue and the plot that ruined the film but do carry on Jeffro.

“This is an inherently anti-pulp premise that is being grafted onto an otherwise pitch perfect expression of classical space opera. Granted, Tarzan was Lord Greystoke. Arthur was the son of Uther. And Luke Skywalker turned out to be part of a space dynasty. “Who you are” does matter in these things. But what these characters do matters more. And these characters proving their worth and their mettle matters even more.

I don’t know why it is, but for some reason… the moment a male lead is swapped out with a female one, all of this stuff seems to go out the window. Men and women are not interchangeable. The stories that spring up around them are qualitatively different.”

But, in the film what the lead character DOES is meant to matter more than who she IS. Jeffro’s objection is based on the plot element that the lead character turns out to be (unknown to her) a space princess. In Jeffro’s defence, it is hard to tell because the plot is a mess but that all points to the plot being a mess rather than an issue with the lead’s gender.

Jeffro goes on to identify why the film falls flat at the end (I think it fell flat from the start but I’ll let Jeffro explain)

“And when you get to the ending where she is rollerblading in the sky with her space boyfriend, it’s pretty clear why: No one cares if a girl gets the guy in the end.
It’s no accomplishment to speak of, honestly. It’s normal. It’s reality’s default setting, and thus… conveys no drama to speak of. If a young girl is as cute as Mila Kunis wants a guy, she can have her pick. They will line up for her whether she is available or not. And the guy that Jupiter Jones gets…? The filmmakers worked overtime to establish that he was really more interested in getting his wings back than anything else. This is an anti-climax unworthy of space opera, pure and simple.”

The last time I discussed a piece from the Castalia House blog I was forced to wonder if the reviewer had ever seen any movies. This time I’m forced to wonder if the writer actually knows any women or people in general? Now, in Jeffro’s defence, I will note he has a point about the film: specifically in that the crappy dialogue and mess of a plot meant there really was no romantic tension – but that wasn’t due to some weird default reality in which stories about women finding love ‘conveys no drama to speak of’. I’m pretty sure that we could all name the odd story here or there or maybe THE BIGGEST SELLING GENRE IN FICTION which from time to time manages to somehow get drama out of women looking for love.

On the list of ‘things wrong with misogyny’, this kind of cluelessness is pretty low down but it aptly demonstrates a key element of it. If your understanding of 50%+ of humanity is so confused on such a basic level that you can’t even understand how there could possibly be drama in whether the ‘girls gets the guy in the end of not’ then your capacity to understand any human relationships are going to be seriously confused. It’s like trying to study mathematics while believing that numbers are a kind of gelatine desert – none of it will make sense and your kitchen will be a mess when you attempt calculus.

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39 comments

  1. Paul Weimer

    “So I was on the Castalia House blog – yes, yes, I shouldn’t do that to myself ”

    Oh, Cam, I understand,. It took me a LOT of effort to stop doing that.

    AS far as Jeffro and the Castalia group…they don’t see “Will she get the guy or not?” to be a recipe
    for appealing drama at all, despite Romance outselling SFF by orders of magnitude.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Space Oddity

      Well, of course they don’t. It would require letting in thoughts from outside the Cray-Craysphere, and you can’t do that. It’d risk contamination.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Cora

      Jeffro Johnson commits the typical puppy fallacy of “I don’t like this, therefore no one else can possibly like this either”. Because it cannot be that Jeffro and his Castalia House pals simply aren’t the target audience for Jupiter Ascending. I also wonder just why he is so surprised that a movie made by two transwomen has a female protagonists.

      Back when Jupiter Ascending first came out, I found quite a lot of similarities between The Matrix and Jupiter Ascending, only that The Matrix taps into the power fantasies of adolescent boys, whereas Jupiter Ascending taps into the power fantasies of adolescent girls. I even wrote a blogpost about it: http://corabuhlert.com/2015/03/07/the-disparate-reviews-of-jupiter-ascending/

      And for someone who considers himself a scholar of pulp fiction, Jeffro seems entirely unaware that a huge amount of all pulp magazines published were romance pulps which revolved entirely around the question whether a women would get a given guy or not.

      Liked by 2 people

      • JJ

        Cora, thanks for posting that link to your review of Jupiter Ascending. I found it really insightful, and — contrary to the usual way of things — the comments added to the discussion.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Lurkertype

    That’s why nobody ever read or saw “Gone With the Wind”. Oh, it’s still the #1 grossing movie when adjusted for inflation? But how? The lead was a pretty girl! There were guys she wanted!

    JA didn’t lean into its weird, and it also made Channing Tatum look odd.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. hoocott

    “things wrong with misogyny”

    So your complaint is Jeffro used a strict Pulp critical frame to analyze the Film while using a flimsy version of feminist critical theory to analyze him…

    Seems legit.

    “I’m forced to wonder if the writer actually knows any women”

    Maybe I am wrong though. The only time I have ever heard a variation of “You don’t understand women” It is invariably said by a women who seeks the attentions of the man she is saying it to.

    You got a crush Cam?

    You do know pop Cultural Marxism is specifically designed to short circuit your brain to misinterpret simple romantic attraction towards a man as a patriarchal assault on your womenhood right?

    Like

    • peer sylvester

      “The only time I have ever heard a variation of “You don’t understand women” It is invariably said by a women who seeks the attentions of the man she is saying it to.
      You got a crush Cam?”

      Well, thats hardly Camestros fault that this is the only time YOU heard that sentence. Other people dont have the same experiences and opinions as you, Hoot.

      Liked by 2 people

      • camestrosfelapton

        //and a White knight appears!//

        Seriously – I didn’t think you guys actually said things like that. Can you do another one?

        Oh, oh! Can you do a thing where it’s like some kind of wacky thing some guy just made up but you like *really* believe it – but like a new one. Like maybe Hillary Clinton killed Elvis? That’d be great.

        Liked by 2 people

    • camestrosfelapton

      Wow. I think you elevated the discussion to a higher level there. It is much simpler than that. Jeffro said something silly and I pointed out how silly it was.
      It didn’t require Marxism, pop, cultural or any flavour really.

      “misinterpret simple romantic attraction”

      How did I misinterpret it? I think ‘simple romantic attraction’ is just fine and dandy – it’s Jeffro who seems to think it lacks some kind of inherent drama.

      //Maybe I am wrong though. The only time I have ever heard a variation of “You don’t understand women” It is invariably said by a women who seeks the attentions of the man she is saying it to.
      You got a crush Cam?//

      Sorry – I’m taken. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • hoocott

        “It didn’t require Marxism, pop, cultural or any flavour really.”

        Sorry darling but you wrote this:

        “things wrong with misogyny”

        …………

        “How did I misinterpret it?”

        I didn’t list all the signals your piece is flaring.

        If “yes, yes, I shouldn’t do that to myself” isn’t a rewrite of “I can’t leave him cuz he is so bad he is good” then nothing is.

        Your article is practically seething.

        Like

      • camestrosfelapton

        //Sorry darling but you wrote this:
        “things wrong with misogyny”//

        A word adopted into English at least as early as the 17th century. It predates Marx by around 200 years as far as I know.

        //I didn’t list all the signals your piece is flaring.//

        Damn -you are making me think Scott Adams may have had at least one point right the other day.

        But, please, do continue – I’m discovering things about myself that I would never have guessed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • peer sylvester

        I think we need a bard and a rogue as well though, otherwise the party is unbalanced.

        I actually prefer to play wizards. Much more affective against trolls!

        Like

      • peer sylvester

        “No way – knowing this crowd everybody is going to pick a magic user class”
        But, but… I called first Dibs!
        “Except Timothy of course, who picks “US Special Forces John Rambo” every time – which makes no sense.”
        May I offer Hunter Cat from the Rifts universe as an alternative? He could call it “John Rambo of Lalaland” if he wants to!

        Liked by 1 person

      • KasaObake

        Person charges onto another blog to defend someone’s honour, accuses someone else of “white knighting”. Um, yeah, sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      • katster

        ooh, ooh, could I be the rogue? That’s a fun class to play, especially when you elevate stealth to near godlike levels. Also, it seems to be a good class for a lurker.

        Like

  4. peer sylvester

    If there is a problem with the female lead here, its that she doesnt so much “lead” as “letting things happen to her”.She gets into trouble and the skatbooarding wolf saves her. Repeat 3 three times. If the movie is not exciting, its because its so predictable (and I would guess that Jeffro wouldnt like the movie better if Kunis was the one doing all the savin´).

    Like

  5. Guillaume

    Thanks Cora too !
    I’ve been searching for months for the review I’ve read of JA as a “Space Opera for teenage girls”, and, despite I would have sworn it would written in French, it must have been yours.
    As for me, behind neither a teen-ager nor a woman, I thought that JA was .. not bad, and … intriguing. There was something in it which make me search for reviews and analysis (I saw it one or two years after theatrical release, without knowing anything about it)

    Liked by 2 people

    • peer sylvester

      Ive heard two interesting theories about JA (or “Channing Tatum on Ice” as I call it)
      No 1 ist that iit was originally planned as a triology, with each part focusing on one of the three siblings. But with the budget exploding already as it was, the studio just said “No!”. That would explain some of the elements that were put in the movie with no apparent purpose (the bees, the dinosaurs) and would explain some side stories – for example its reasonable that the wolf (forgot his screen name) bit Redamyes character in the throat whichg would explain a) why Redmayne speaks so strangely) and b) why the wolf lost his wings). These elements are dropped and the story was cut short to fit into a movie, with a plot that in this shortness doesnt make much sense.

      No 2 is that this is a parable about the russian aristocracy in pre-revolution russia: The style of clothes and furnature would indicate this, as well as that the russian heir to the throne – the princess! – is missing and its presumed shes either being killed in secret OR LIVES IN HIDING. Its possible that she got a daughter, and… well you know where this is going. The russian aristocrats supposingly also built their status and wealth on the backs of the people, from whom there where quite removed themselves. The “Harvesting” could be a parabel of that.
      I dont know if this is true -and the movie does an awful job of actually using this parabel for anything if it is true – but its a somewhat intrigueging theory. But the movie doesnt hold up for a second vieweing imho (i tried to Netflix is but couldnt bring myself to finish it), so I leave this here for more daring adventurers.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Cora

        Those are definitely interesting theories. It would make sense that Jupiter Acending was originally planned as a trilogy, which explains the many loose ends. Besides, if you remember the original Matrix, that movie had plenty of loose ends as well, only that the sequels didn’t adequately resolve anything.

        I also like the interpretation of Jupiter Ascending as Anastasia in space. And of course, the legend of Anastasia, the sole survivor of the massacre that wiped out the Russian Imperial family, sounds like something straight out of space opera, epic fantasy (actual accounts of the massacre read like something out of GRRM) or a melodramatic romance novel.

        Liked by 3 people

    • Cora

      Thanks, Guillaume. Of course, it’s quite possible that someone made a similar point in French or maybe you got the articles/reviews mixed up. Reminds of all the time I spent looking for that wonderful quote I’d read somewhere about Star Wars, but when I finally tracked it down, it turned out to be a wonderful quote about a different film in a book that also discussed Star Wars.

      Like

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