What better way for Andy and Lana Wachowski to celebrate the 15th anniversary of The Matrix – the sci-fi/action/philosophy trip that inspired countless “Bullet-time” imitations and/or parodies – than to release their next venture into the sci-fi realm, Jupiter Ascending? The new original work from the filmmaking siblings stars Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum as, respectively, a futuristic Snow White-esque woman and the genetically-engineered hunter who is recruited to track her down, but ends up becoming her protector instead.
Jupiter Ascending – based on the official plot synopsis – reads like a mashup of re-appropriated fairy tale archetypes, hero’s journey story elements and tropes that walk the fine line between fantasy and sci-fi; in other words, it’s to the Wachowskis what Star Wars is to George Lucas or Avatar is to James Cameron. But how would the filmmaking pair describe their latest project?
Here is what Lana said, during the Australians in Film awards dinner last week (via AP):
“It’s a science-fiction space opera. It has a lot of things from a lot of genres that we love. It’s got a lot of original action, it’s got a lot of romance.”
The genre-blend design of Jupiter Ascending was apparent from the very beginning, when the first plot details leaked and pointed to a film that brought to mind a menagerie of culturally-specific influences (European fables, Japanese sci-fi, and so forth).
Similarly, between the trend-setting action sequences in The Matrix films – including The Matrix Revolutions which, as has been discussed on the Screen Rant Underground Podcast, set the bar for mid-flight fisticuffs until Man of Steel released ten years later – and the fundamentally human stories explored against fantastical sci-fi backdrops in Cloud Atlas, you tend to expect big things from the Wachowskis (hence, their films can be love/hate affairs).
Lana commented on just that, when she admitted:
“We seem not to be very good at making small things. We keep saying ‘Let’s go make a small movie.’ But then they always end up being enormously complex. We want to somehow always find something that is different or that no one has tried.”
Cloud Atlas was very much just that and, although there’s no denying that it wasn’t to everyone’s taste, the Wachowskis’ ambitious collaboration with director Tom Tykwer resulted in a movie that earned more than its fair share of applause too (read our review, for case in point). Even the more polarizing Speed Racer and Matrix sequels have their share of fans, including those who just admire how the directors always aim for the stands, whenever at bat.
As Lana put it:
“People come up to us and just break into tears talking about (‘Cloud Atlas’). Even ‘Speed Racer,’ we get people that come up and say it was their favorite movie of all time. We’ve been very lucky that way. We have great fans. … And we keep trying to keep surprising them.”
No doubt, Jupiter Ascending could be yet another divisive Wachowski offering, but any filmmakers whose work prompts these kind of passionate responses is doing something right. If enough people dig it, then the siblings’ latest sci-fi adventure could also be the first installment in a new blockbuster trilogy – and thus, continue to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors (see: the wave of Star Wars movies and the Avatar trilogy due to hit theaters over the next 2-5 years).
Jupiter Ascending opens in U.S. theaters on July 25th, 2014.
Source: Associated Press