Friday, September 29, 2017

Spirits of Jupiter

Spirits of Jupiter (aka Planet Gone Mad)
Russell Kern

"Jupiter and Saturn join the head of Ares. Eternal God what chaaaanges! The great force will pass over the mountains. The great one hidden long in shadows will cool his sword in blooooooood. "

An unusual planetary alignment begins exerting gravitational anomalies on Earth. Big Jim Drill (Rex Cutter) is the roughest toughest silver mine owner in town. He’s also become aware that people are starting to act strange and increasingly violent. Thanks to some information from a little person named Nostradamus (Richard Luna) and a gold plate to put in his hat, Big Jim is out to rescue his family and survive the cataclysm that is befalling the world.

Spirits of Jupiter is liable to give any viewer a serious case of tonal whiplash. It could be a horror movie, if there were not silly things like characters rendered immune to the effects of planetary alignments courtesy of gold plates on their heads. It could be comedy if it was not rife with graphic violence and mass executions. A skilled writer and director could put these extremes to good use, using one to highlight the other. Director, Russell Kern should be commended for pulling this whole thing off at all, but the finished product is so tonally chaotic that it threatens the narrative cohesion.

"I am one smug S.O.B."
Spirits of Jupiter stars the executive producer, Rex Cutter, his character feels like a serious Mary-Sue. He’s Big Jim Drill, the richest man, the best shot, he's got the most common sense, and is better than everyone at everything. The townies look up to him (except that foolish Mayor… but he gets his of course), and the cops defer to him. He’s the kind of guy who will tear out his own damaged eye, put on an eye-patch and start John Wayneing his way through the rest of the movie. A character this flawless is, by turns, irritating and amusing. At some point, you have either to accept it and move on with the rest of the story, or the whole thing will just grind to a halt for you.

Despite being a relatively unknown movie, and more likely than not, a passion project for those involved, there was some real money spent on the making of this film. It features some expansive location shooting, lots of extras, explosions, and even some intensive plane and helicopter stunts. There really isn’t much plot to speak of, so it makes sense to keep the characters moving and the action high. Spirits of Jupiter does not spend much time resting.The movie even features a little bit of model work, as we see planets moving into alignment. These aren't the most high-tech of scenes but they do make the whole story feel a lot larger than one man's battle in small town.

"You feelin' lucky, ingrown toenail?"
Opening with some (tremendously silly) bombastic opening narration, it is apparent that Spirits of Jupiter is a really odd movie; it is an apocalyptic goofball comedy that occasionally turns into a violet fight for survival. It features a main character who is insufferably good at everything he does, and isn’t afraid to brag about it. There is nothing like and, I dare say, there never will be again.

That is unless the planets align just right.

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