Short Reviews: Upside Down (2013)


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Upside Down is a love story set in a universe where our characters live in twinned worlds with rules that defy the laws of conventional physics in favour of romantic whimsy.

The worlds are known as Up and Down, and each represents the societal class of its citizens. The rules between these worlds are clear – no one from one of the other world is allowed to live on the other and the movie’s laws of physics assist this: anyone from one world travelling to the other still remains pulled by the gravity of their original world. Furthermore, materials taken from one of the other worlds will eventually burn if not returned to their original world.

Enter Jim Sturgess as Adam, our everyman protagonist of the lower class world of Down, who one day meets and falls in love with Kirsten Dunst’s Eden, a citizen of Up. The two share a forbidden, albeit mostly unnoticed romance despite their worldly differences (ha!). Eventually, when the authorities discover them, a chase ensues and Eden is hurt, and basically left for dead.

Years later, Adam discovers Eden is alive and sets about meeting her again by getting a job at TransWorld, a giant structure that joins the two worlds, run with Orwellian control. However, Eden has lost her memory, and so Adam attempts to make her fall in love with him again by secretly gaining access into the other world, weighing himself down with material from Up that constantly puts him at risk of burning up when it eventually ignites.

Upside Down is a visually fantastic film, but doesn’t have a whole lot else to offer. It’s full of great ideas and concepts, but the ultimate execution is all a bit tepid and, frankly, a bit juvenile. The (plentiful) symbolism in the movie is about as subtle as a train wreck; try as you might movie, but naming one character Adam and another Eden is not a “clever” incarnation of Adam and Eve, nor is allegorically separating your social class into worlds called Up and Down, nor is the obvious pun of “opposites attract” or the fact that our lovers are “worlds apart.”

Despite having generally likeable performances from Dunst and Sturgess as our leads, they can’t save an atrocious script that doesn’t know how to organise the cornucopia of ideas the movie has to offer into a cohesive whole; the “pink bees” were never going to be convincing, and the awkward awe Sturgess tries to convey much of his narration with is cringe worthy

That said – there’s nothing aggressively wrong with the movie, except that it’s largely forgettable. It’s a great looking movie, and it’s a shame that the writers couldn’t match the story to the fantastic visuals, but in the end, it’s a perfectly pleasant way to occupy your time, even if you won’t really remember much of it two hours after you’ve finished watching it.

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