Upside Down

The only thing I can be sure about is that I WILL get this movie review wrong.

I’m of two very distinct minds:

  1. What the hell???????
  2. What THE hell!!!!!!!!!

So you see how I’m conflicted. For the first 10 minutes, you’re holding on for dear life, frankly surprised they didn’t supply a pencil and paper just to jot down notes, though the movie’s prologue moves a little too fast for accuracy and I repeatedly asked Sean to pause the movie just to see if we were understanding the same basic things.

Which are: Where Adam lives, there are twin planets with opposite gravity. If you climbed to the highest peak of your planet, you could nearly touch the outstretched hand of a person on the highest peak of theirs. But you can’t hop over because your gravity is keeping you on your planet and their gravity is keeping them on theirs.

They are twin planets but not equally prosperous; Adam’s planet is known as the “down below” and the other as the “up top,” which describes their relative wealth more than their actual cosmic positions since the other planet is always technically looming over whichever one your feet are planted on. Contact between worlds is dangerous, and forbidden. The only authorized contact is through Transworld, a big business that the Up Top uses to take cheap resources from Down Below and then sell it back to them at prices they can’t afford. A Transworld oil refinery explosion killed Adam’s parents and destroyed most of their city when he was young. He grew up in foster care and visited his Great Aunt Becky on weekends, who makes her famous flying pancakes for him using pollen sourced from pink bees which feed off flowers from both worlds. It’s a closely guarded family secret, and Aunt Becky vanishes before she can fully pass it on to Adam. He’ll spend the rest of his life trying to perfect the recipe.

When Adam (Jim Sturgess) is a kid, he meets Eden (Kirsten Dunst), a girl from the Up Top as they’re both perched on respective peaks. They’re crafty and they find ways to see each other even though it’s very much not allowed. But you know teenagers, especially star-crossed teenagers: forbidden love makes them extra horny. They have to get extra creative when it comes to makeout sessions, and you may find that it reminds you a bit of Dunst’s former life as Mary Jane Watson.

Anyway, the two are inevitably pulled apart but Adam never gives up hope that some day they will be reunited. So what we end up with is a drama / action / adventure / fantasy / sci-fi romance. Did I leave anything out? Actually, the problem is writer director Juan Solanas didn’t leave anything out. He has this rich, fecund concept, some pretty dazzling CGI, and a wonderfully bizarre and original premise, but…he fails to correctly identify the film’s core. Solanas believes it to be gravity but it’s actually weight. I know the two are related, but gravity is basically directly unobservable. It’s the magic that makes things work, but it’s weight that lends the story heft. This movie had incredible bubbles of creativity but there’s no character development and little emotional investment. Solanas went to some great trouble with his world-building, but it’s like if you took the instantly forgettable 1999 rom-com Drive Me Crazy but made it look like The Matrix. Not only is it a missed opportunity, it kind of makes you resent it for luring you in with a false promise in the first place.






19 thoughts on “Upside Down

  1. mastermixmovies

    ˙ʎɐpǝɯos ʇᴉ ǝǝs ll,I ǝqʎɐɯ oS ˙snoᴉɹnɔ sɐʍ I ʇnq ‘uǝǝs ɹǝʌǝ p,I ƃuᴉɥʇ ʇsǝpɹᴉǝʍ ǝɥʇ ǝʞᴉl pǝʞool ʇI ˙oƃɐ ǝɯᴉʇ ƃuol ɐ ɹǝlᴉɐɹʇ ǝɥʇ uo ƃuᴉlqɯnʇs ɹǝqɯǝɯǝɹ I
    I remember stumbling on the trailer a long time ago. It looked like the weirdest thing I’d ever seen, but I was curious. So maybe I’ll see it someday.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Experience Film

    Too bad Solanos couldn’t find the common core between what sounds like a lot of good creativity going on. As for Dunst and Sturgess, have you seen Melancholia or Cloud Atlas? I really liked them in their respective roles in those sci-fi films

    Liked by 2 people

  3. raistlin0903

    Well…this is a bit of a shame. The premise for this one sounds really interesting indeed, but in the end it fell short it seems. I remember seeing a trailer for this a long while back, but for me it fell off the radar. I might still go check it out at some point, but it sounds like I’m not missing too much.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jay Post author

      It was so far off the radar for me that Starz told me it was a new (2020) movie and I believed it. Thought Dunst was looking suspiciously youthful, figured it may have sat on a shelf for some time, but imagine my surprise when IMDB admitted to a 2012 birthdate!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. selizabryangmailcom

    Yeah, it WAS a “rich concept” and it WAS “wonderfully bizarre and original.”
    So sad that it couldn’t pull it all together. Such a frustrating waste.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Liz A.

    But gravity doesn’t work like that. . . I’m sure I could suspend my disbelief, and I’m sure there’s a mechanism that makes it work, but I just think about how gravity is the attraction of two bodies with mass, and. . . My science education is working against me here.

    Liked by 3 people


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s