Monday Morning Critic – The Puzzling Career of the Wachowskis and the Boom or Bust Potential of Jupiter Ascending


The interesting thing about the upcoming weekend in film, other than whether or not American Sniper will continue to run roughshod over a lackluster early year box office, is that of Jupiter Ascending. Already an interesting dilemma of a film, having been pushed from summer tentpole to February film last summer, Jupiter Ascending looks to be 2015’s first major flop in a year that’s supposed to contain a TON of massive hits. JA is the one film when people are discussing what should be the big hits of 2015.

It’s a tidal wave of adaptations, reboots and sequels counting on to make 2015 one of the best in recent history: Avengers 2, the new James Bond film, a new Star Wars film, Fifty Shades of Grey, another Fast & Furious film and countless others that are Hollywood’s love of repetition meshing with audiences goers love of the familiarity. One would think Jupiter Ascending would find a niche in the summer’s box office, not the late winter’s, as an original work would at least seem different than the mountain of product that’s an adaptation/reboot/sequel already coming out. That’s why it’s release last July sort of made sense; in a year where fans almost soundly rejected a lot of films it would’ve at least been a new concept for an audience that rejected a lot of the familiar.


A February release date would initially look like the kiss of death for the film; audiences rarely come out en masse for a movie in the winter unless it’s an event (or it’s Christmas). For a film that’s walking towards a $200 million budget before marketing and the like it’s an odd sign; one can see moving it from last July to this upcoming July but moving a film to February (any February) is not a good sign.

And normally that’d be the end of the story … that is until the success of American Sniper made this winter a game changing one potentially. With American Sniper becoming a bonafide success for any number of reasons the question has to be asked. Could this groundswell of people coming out translate into a higher first week gross for Jupiter Ascending?

The boom or bust potential of the rising tide lifting all ships of American Sniper, which looks like it might cross $300 million when all is said and done in domestic receipts alone. Can Jupiter Ascending replicate that sort of success? So far, with the insanely poor word of mouth and bad vibes, I don’t think so but if there was a film that had the potential to this might be it. If people are used to coming out, a film like this has a shot at potentially finding an audience in a winter that’s been fairly lackluster.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

My buddy Christian Toto writes on the perils of being a father and a film critic.

Travis tackled a submarine thriller.

I wrote a handful of DVD review for the week, for Fury and The Judge.

And now on MMC … we marvel at how strong someone can be.

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This week’s DVD – Marathon Man

It’s odd to think of how films that are what we can consider to be classic Hollywood movies would not be able to get made in today’s cinematic environment. A large chunk of them are for content and characters, of course, as Hollywood was awfully racist and sexist for a long time (and still is to a much larger degree than it’ll admit). A big area where Old Hollywood has a significant edge on New Hollywood is the adult thriller.

Hollywood in the modern era is better at making & marketing anything around a PG-13 and below, at least in terms of action, than it ever has been. But the pulse pounding R-rated thriller is something that they can’t really do that well anymore. Mainly the goal is to try and make them into something that can be cut to a PG-13; a film like Marathon Man would have a much more difficult time being made now because the goal would be to try to make it a PG-13 film (and increase its revenue potential) .

Simple premise. Dustin Hoffman is a grad student at Columbia who really likes to run. When his brother, the government spook, winds up dead in his arms at home he winds up in the middle of a conspiracy involving Nazi scientists and stolen diamonds.

The one thing that’s amusing about this film, for lack of a better word, is that it reeks of a different era of Hollywood. No film today could be released with this sort of slow burn, of a first hour that’s devoted exclusively to character development. This is a film that takes a long time to develop, as it’s a real slow cooker, and it’s odd to think a film like this couldn’t have been made in modern Hollywood without a ton of changes.

It still works as a film, all these years later, but it feels much more like a relic because of how the nature of film has changed in the forty years since this film was first released. This is a slow burning film, one that takes an hour to really get cooking. It’s enjoyable once it gets going, of course, but that first hour can be a little rough.


What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

Jupiter Ascending – The Wachowskis do space stuff.

Skip it – It’s been getting awful reviews and was crapped on at Sundance. Not a good sign.

Seventh Son – Jeff Bridges gets all beardy in a fantasy epic.

See it – There’s a certain level of joyful awfulness that goes along with anything Bridges does these days; winning an Oscar seems to do that to some actors.

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge out of Water – Spongebob is animated into the real world or something.

Skip it – Unless you have kids who you need to shut up for a couple hours.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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