Wow! This gem totally flew under my radar until I read something about it last week. I picked up the 3D Blu-ray this week and was blown away. First of all, this film is gorgeous. The imagery here is just astounding. On top of that, we are given an original concept for a sci-fi/fantasy romance with some social commentary sprinkled on top. I want to stress the fantasy part of the sci-fi/fantasy description. If you try to scrutinize the story here from a scientific perspective it will not hold up at all. There is an almost fairy-tale type logic at play here that you need to embrace in order for the film to work for you.
Upside Down opens with a voiceover setting up the film’s premise and this is almost a requirement due to the high concept at work here. It seems there are two twin worlds orbiting a sun, and they each have their own gravity. Matter from the upper world always follows the gravity of that world, and matter from the under world always follows its’ own gravity. You can offset the gravity of your base world with inverse matter from the other world–essentially weighing yourself down with matter of the other world so you don’t drift “up”. In addition, after about an hour opposing matter in contact with each other will begin to heat up and then burn.
Adam and Eden cross paths at a young age. Adam is from the underworld–the impoverished lower class world. Eden is from the flourishing, high-class upper world. There is not supposed to be any contact between worlds unless it is through the monopolizing mega corporation that coordinates the exchanges between the two worlds. After many years of visiting each other at a point where the worlds come close together, They are discovered by a border patrol, and Eden suffers an accident in the escape. Years pass and Adam is hard at work on a special compound using the power of a pollen/honey substance that comes from bees that cross the boundaries between the two worlds. This compound, being used as an anti wrinkle cream, defeats the workings of gravity on a given world. Adam soon learns that Eden, whom he thought lost, is working at the Mega company and so he brings his invention to them in the hopes of finding a way to cross the worlds’ barriers and reunite with his lost love.
I will leave the details at that as I do not want to spoil a film that I am sure many have not seen. Suffice it to say that Adam and Eve are not named with any subtlety. Jim Sturgess as Adam and Kirsten Dunst as Eve do fine work, and Timothy Spall truly shines as Adam’s quirky co-worker and friend who does not quite fit into the predefined way of life in the upper world.The film works primarily as a high-concept romance, but also contains some fun adventure set pieces including a platform jumping section that truly felt like an old-school video game brought to life. Upside Down also comments on corporate monopolies, the haves and have-nots, and societal discrimination as well…all rather timely in the era of the 99%. YOu can not escape the loss of humanity in the office vistas with endless rows of cubes–both above nad below.
The 3D in the film is the subtle kind where it used to add depth and recede into the screen as opposed to pop out at you. I found the subtlety appropriate for the tone of the film.
Upside Down is not a perfect film. If you study the rules too hard things do not all add up, and the use of the concepts of up and down is almost pointless. However, if you can look past that and get caught up in the spectacle and romance, you may find yourself lost in the film’s charms and engaging in the suspension of disbelief that a good fantasy provides.
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