Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rewriting Cinematic History

In the future, image and sound manipulation will be so easy that high-school and college students will be able to “fix” their favorite movies and songs, much the same way that Trent Resnor does twenty versions of his NIN tunes. Computer generated images and voices can splice into the existing work. One day, kids will pass around personal remixes of their favorites the way they pass cheat codes and pokemon today. I think about this as I watch today’s movies and wish I could do it now.
Kingsmen was awesome until the first head exploded. As long as it stayed PG-13, it was perfectly in genre and cool. However, I fast-forwarded the entire church scene. Nobody wants to see a knife or bullet penetrate the top of a skull a hundred times with slow-motion, color-enhanced spray. The attempt at sexual conquest of a prisoner at the end also turned stomachs. Someone with an iPad could edit that out today, including the projectile vomiting, making it watchable.
Jupiter Ascending had a great concept and design but fell flat. It had potential to be great and spun off into a TV series. If I were going to remix a movie, I’d start there. Sure, this could be considered hubris, but it’s my blog and I want to try it. Realize that I probably spent way too much time thinking about this for one viewing, but I joined Netflix DVD for a month just to see it. Humor me.
My first and biggest complaint: the main character, the child of geniuses and duplicate of a woman who ruled star systems was a docile, almost silent drone with no flicker of intelligence or spine. Women should want to be her, and guys should admire more than her yoga pants. A close second gripe was the flip side: the male lead, who I shall refer to as Wolfie, beat hordes with his pure machismo alone. Third, to make this sustainable and more enjoyable, some of the operatic portions need to be dialed back a smidge. Fixing these problems could make the movie several times better and convert it into a long-term viable franchise. 

  1. Instead of having her scrubbing toilets in silence, show Jupiter with plans to be something more. Perhaps she listens to something educational related to her secret dream on her earphones while she scrubs. Irony points for reading about planet search techniques in a client’s magazine instead of cleaning and loaning her spare computer cycles to SETI. Bonus for any obscure skill that demonstrates quick learning and adaptability, even if it’s just dodging INS or her mother reacting to a power outage with aplomb. “It’s still Tuesday. The same rooms need to be done. You are spoiled. In Russia, we had no elevators.”
  2. Then show how being an “illegal alien” and loyalty to the family prevents her reaching her dream. Build verbally why she decides to have surgery under a stolen identity before the aliens probe her friend. Unless people read the DVD cover, they were lost about what was happening. The scenes hopped POV far too much, with too little input from Jupiter herself. We need a chance to root for her before the operation.
  3. Ax the second set of bounty hunters narrating how studly male hero is. We get the idea when he kicks their collected butts.
  4. Missing mechanics: How does Jupiter speak alien throughout the movie? Invent something because none of them would learn English. Perhaps she is studying Ancient Sumerian or Sanskrit in school, and there are similarities. Maybe she touches the translator device she finds on the floor of her friend’s room. Or Wolfie gives her a shot of babelfish after the rescue. Bonus: This understanding of seeming static on TV/radios would make her sound insane to others. The aliens wouldn’t expect her to understand the “Kill her” order. This should be a big moment.
  5. When the bounty hunter bursts into the operating room, rather than staring like a victim, have Jupiter loosen her own gas mask against her shoulder and pull out the IV with her teeth. Have her recognize this person is helping, even if she has no idea why. As her rescuer is about to get jumped, shout a warning to save him and perhaps draw the dart. Get a nod of thanks before she passes out. This enables hunter to see her as mate material.
  6. Have her joke with Wolfie about not being the only illegal alien in the city to show him her wit. Perhaps complain about how the existence of galactic society makes her small dream pale.
  7. Shorten the fight scene where Wolfman kills seven fliers. Way beyond belief. The whole skyscraper being replaced by morning was also over the top.
  8. Give us some reason why the space police are in a ramshackle farmhouse—to keep our population from killing itself off before harvest, and to make sure the corporate aliens follow certain rules. Show how his old buddy has actually saved the Earth from itself and alien exploitation so we trust him a little.
  9. Give the invisible, more numerous, high-tech, tiny aliens some weakness, even if it’s just fear of bees in order to give Jupiter some way to resist briefly. For a good series, they must have limits of some kind.
  10. Before the bureaucratic maze, Jupiter should know that the Earth is doomed unless she saves it. “I couldn’t even get a driver’s license.” This will add tension and humor to the waits. Reading the manual immediately was awesome to talk about, but maybe we show her flipping through in desperation.
  11. Have Jupiter suggest the bribe that gets the license because she’s seen her uncle do it a dozen times. Take control instead of being herded mutely.
  12. Cut the hero getting through the air defenses just because he screams in defiance.
  13. Get into the spacesuit before exposure to vacuum. Doesn’t any film writer know what zero pressure and three degrees Kelvin does to a body?
  14. At the end boss battle, have Jupiter not wolfie use the magic-door sealing trick to kill a pursuer. This is one piece of tech she actually worked herself earlier in the film.
  15. Giving the Draconians wings was too comic book because winged creatures are lighter than humans, not heavier thugs.
  16. Don’t have Jupiter run screaming like Goldie Hawn in Bird on a Wire. If she does run away from her family and protection, have it be to intentionally lure away the black hats because she thinks she can evade them. Bonus points for use of tech like the light beam that she knows how to disable while the pursuers aren’t free of the beam yet… or some way that experience with low tech saves her when the high-tech, low-g crowds are panicked. I could see her shutting off the main power grid with her new ownership override.
  17. Don’t have the only parapet in the complex that collapses consistently be hers. I just wanted to thin that whole long, contrived sequence. I want her to make fun of the rich son’s weakness in the clinch the way her mother might. “You are spoiled.” Show nurture and environment over pure nature of genes.
  18. When she returns to her old life, give Jupiter some contact with galactic civilization and some tech/power that nobody else will see. Give her bigger problems to ponder while she scrubs. Leave the door open for the series: show challenges like her needing to learn corporate rulership, hostile takeovers, and the possibility of slowly making changes to Earth. Most importantly, we need an excuse for wolfie to hang around and keep tabs on her but not seen by the locals.
  19. Unresolved: Give us hope that the series will investigate the mysterious crime that was wiped from Wolfie’s memory. The movie mentioned it many times without resolution.
  20. Logic flaw to resolve: If the output of 100 humans is worth a king’s ransom in product, why aren’t they already processing recently-dead humans? I can’t imagine that the people stay alive during the extraction. Perhaps that’s why there are so many wars, periodic sampling.

No comments:

Post a Comment