Jupiter’s Legacy Review (Volume 1)

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Jupiter’s Legacy Review – Volume 1 of Netflix’s Superhero drama delivers a rich world and magnificent performances but doesn’t quite land the final blow

In a world where Falcon and the Winter SoldierThe Boys, and Invincible fully delve into the superhero genre and subvert it, Netflix boldly adds the first volume of Jupiter’s Legacy to the fold. Adapted from Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s graphic novel, Jupiter’s Legacy tells the tale of the world’s greatest heroes attempting to pass on their legacy and values to a new generation that are changing the rules and making old values seem obsolete. The story focuses on the Sampson family, who fell from grace during The Great Depression and overcame it to become the world’s superhero team, The Union of Justice.  But despite the series having epic drama that spans generations, strong performances from the entire cast, and impressive special effects, my Jupiter’s Legacy review isn’t going to rate as highly as I hoped.

Jupiter’s Legacy tells two stories of the Sampson family, the origin of their powers and The Union, and the impending transition of the guard from them to their kids. This is done simultaneously throughout each episode with flashbacks from the present day to the period of The Great Depression. The nearly century-long span the story covers really helps drive the values and ideals of Sheldon Sampson/Utopian (Josh Duhamel) which is arguably the cornerstone that drives the drama of the modern-day. The Utopian has distilled these values and ideals into what is known as The Code. The Code basically means use your powers to help and inspire, not control, and the most prominent value is to never kill. The Utopian is very black and white, despite being very aware of the current world and the real problems. His brother, Walter/Brainwave (Ben Daniels), on the other hand, is starting to see that sticking to The Code, stopping a few robberies here and there, is repetitive and not enough to protect from the real evils.

Utopian’s rigidity and devotion to upholding The Code influences the current generation of heroes and drives the drama of the present. While The Great Depression, grief, family drama, and what seems to be mental anguish, drive the events of the past. The common driver in both stories is Sheldon Sampson/Utopians absolute belief. In the past it is Sheldon’s belief in the signs and callings that lead him and the other members of The Union gaining their powers. In the present, it is his strict adherence to the code and the pressure he applies to others to uphold it as well that drives the story. Josh Duhamel delivers a magnificent performance, going from a carefree rich kid to a stoic, burned-out hero who is stubbornly steadfast in his beliefs. In reflection to Duhamel’s Utopian is Daniels’ Brainwave/Walter. Walter begins as the by the books older brother who is jealous his work and accomplishments are outshined by his younger brother’s charisma. Where he puts in the work and does the math and gets ignored, Sheldon just appears and everyone listens as if he’s a prophet. Daneils’ portraying the struggle of everyone still listening to his brother when he’s seemingly losing his mind rather than him is riveting. Then to see him become the voice of reason and understanding in the present day, in contrast to his duty-bound brother is amazing character development. Daniels and Duhamel give award-worthy performances.

Outside of Duhamel and Daniels, Grace/Lady Liberty (Leslie Bibb) and George/Skyfox (Matt Lanter) have some stories that allow them to display their acting prowess. Lanter only gets to as George in the past, but Bibb gets some time in the past, but a really great story where she gets to experience the shortcomings of The Code and goes against her husband (Sheldon/Utopian). The original members of The Union claim the bulk of the story with Brandon Sampson/ Paragon (Andrew Horton), Chloe Sampson (Elena Kampouris), and Hutch (Ian Quinlan) getting notable amounts of story in the present. Brandon is a dutiful son, Chole is the rebellious and drug-addled daughter, Hutch is a bad boy who’s cool and hooks up with the rebellious daughter. The performances are more than solid, but the roles are basically rich kid tropes so I found it hard to care at all.

The only critique I have on the series, on a technical level, is the fight choreography. It’s not bad, like the first season of Iron Fist, but a lot of the super-powered fights just feel dated. The way the punches are thrown or powers are used feels like watching Lois and Clark The New Adventures of Superman. The special effects and production value are of the highest tier, but something about it just doesn’t feel as fluid and natural as on other properties. This strictly only applies to superpowers, and usually super strength. The smaller fights, like Anna Akana’s sword fighting, are awesome. I think the best way to describe it, is that the powers, especially super strength, seem to be used like weapons rather than innate abilities of the hero. But other than that, the show is practically flawless on a technical level.

However, despite the technical greatness of the series, and I assure you there is true greatness. I personally just can’t get as invested in the story as I’d like. I truly enjoy and like the holier than though stance The Utopia takes with The Code. It’s akin to Steve Rogers/Captain America in Civil War. It’s ideal and truly honorable. The world is just different; it would and could be better if it followed The Code, but it is just way too different for it to be applicable. There is far too much gray to be that black and white. Utopian’s struggle to open his mind as his wife and brother, who have been with him since the beginning, open theirs is great television. But then there are Utopian’s kids, and the kids just don’t interest me. I like that are a lot of heroes and kids of heroes questioning The Code and seeing it literally kill them trying to live by it. But the kids of Utopian and Lady Liberty, make it just seem like it’s rich people’s problems. They just make it unreal and unrelatable. This is nothing against Horton and Kampouris who play their parts perfectly. The characters aren’t even unlikable or anything. Horton masterfully plays a son trying to be his father in a world his father basically can’t exist in. Chloe is a stereotypical spoiled rich girl who rebels with drugs with moments of humanity. It’s easy to get why most wouldn’t really care about Chloe’s character, but something about Brandon also puts him in the same boat. It’s probably a very personal bias, but I feel there’s a good amount of people who will agree. Rich kid has drug problem and rich kid trying to make daddy proud are the only things I take away from Brandon and Chloe Sampson. Maybe if they were just the stereotypes I wouldn’t harp on them, but they go deep into their stories and it’s as shallow as rich kids tend to be.

Jupiter’s Legacy boldly steps into the well-populated superhero drama genre with a noticeably loud step, but doesn’t quite step up. The series has some truly incredible performances, a gripping premise with some jaw-dropping plot twists, with a production value that is film-worthy. Technically speaking, the series is practically flawless. The superpowered fight choreo could use polish for a bit more fluidity is my only technical critique. However, despite its greatness, something about the story feels undercut and trivialized into rich people problems. The major moral issues that span a century and tested by the huge shift in culture worldwide that the show prefaces seem to be undercut by rich kids wanting to make daddy proud and disappointed. It’s not the main part of the show, but is a large part of it. It’s enough to distract, but far from enough to ruin the series. Because of the major disconnect, my Jupiter’s Legacy review of Volume 1 gets a 3/5.

Jupiter’s Legacy Volume 1 is streaming now on Netflix

 

Jupiter's Legacy Review (Volume 1)
3

TLDR

Jupiter’s Legacy boldly steps into the well-populated superhero drama genre with a noticeably loud step, but doesn’t quite step up. The series has some truly incredible performances, a gripping premise with some jaw-dropping plot twists, with a production value that is film-worthy. Technically speaking, the series is practically flawless. The superpowered fight choreo could use polish for a bit more fluidity is my only technical critique. However, despite its greatness, something about the story feels undercut and trivialized into rich people problems. The major moral issues that span a century and tested by the huge shift in culture worldwide that the show prefaces seem to be undercut by rich kids wanting to make daddy proud and disappointed. It’s not the main part of the show, but is a large part of it. It’s enough to distract, but far from enough to ruin the series.

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