There’s a strange phenomenon that happens with certain films, and it’s something that almost all of us have experienced at one point another. Sometimes a movie is great, sometimes it’s just bad, and other times it’s just the right amount of bad to be enjoyable under certain circumstances.
Jupiter Ascending is film that just recently came out, and it features, in no particular order: Mila Kunis as a re-incarnated space queen who almost marries her space son, Channing Tatum as a roller-blading space werewolf who lost his angel wings, and Academy Award winning actor Eddie Redmayne as an evil CEO who unnecessarily whispers his way through the whole movie.
The movie was delayed for about nine months for “visual effects work,” and, let’s be clear here, the visual effects are absolutely gorgeous, but when a studio delays a movie for that reason, especially if it pushes it from a summer release to a January or February release, it’s usually because they know they have a bad film and don’t want to go toe-to-toe with Marvel or Tom Cruise. And while the extra nine months probably did give the VFX team time to make the movie very pretty, it didn’t keep the movie from being awful.
The problem with something like Jupiter Ascending is that it skirts the line of that so-bad-its-good categorization, but just doesn’t quite cross it as much as one would hope. For not much other reason than the fact that I saw them both recently, I’d like to compare Jupiter Ascending to 50 Shades of Grey and The Boy Next Door.
You see, I wholeheartedly recommend The Boy Next Door, not because it’s good, but because it’s so bad in such good ways. It’s hard to put my finger on it exactly, but the movie makes so many baffling decisions, and yet decides to take itself so seriously, that it’s hard to not find the juxtaposition funny. There’s a scene, no joke, where Jennifer Lopez’s character is given a “first edition” of The Iliad – something that doesn’t actually exist.
50 Shades of Grey, on the other hand, is decidedly not The Boy Next Door, even though I wanted it to be. The movie is so bland, and boring, it’s a complete non-entity. Sure there are some moments that are a little weird or play out strangely, but there’s a certain level of capability behind the film-making that keeps it from being truly terrible, while still being forced down by the source material.
Now, my ultimate point is this: if asked whether or not I liked Jupiter Ascending, I’d have to reply that I enjoyed it better than 50 Shades of Grey, but less than Boy Next Door. If someone asked me if it was any good, though, I’d have to reply that all three of those movies are about the same level of bad. So why was it so much more enjoyable watching Boy Next Door than it was watching Jupiter Ascending, which, in turn, was more enjoyable than 50 Shades of Grey?
It’s hard to say, exactly, but I think that’s power of the magic of cinema, even if it’s not trying to (and sometimes because it’s not trying to), a movie can sometimes still make me laugh. And in the case of Jupiter Ascending, I was definitely laughing, though probably not at the parts or for the reasons that the filmmakers intended.