Upside Down – Film Review
Kirsten Dunst, we meet again.
And you don’t even get nude for this one.
TL;DR Merely a vehicle to justify some admittedly spectacular special effects, Upside Down is a vacant, empty movie. Despite how meaningful it pretends to be. 2 out of 5 stars.
And would it have killed Kirsten to drop a few F-bombs?
The plot is some sci-fi thing about two planets that exist extremely close to one another. So much so that you can travel between the surface of each by elevator. Or rope, if you’re in the right spot. One side (Up Top) is rich and xenophobic, the other (Down Below) is poor and oppressed. Jim Sturgess comes from the poor side, Kirsten Dunst from the rich side. Also, if matter from one side touches matter from the other side for too long, it catches fire. And the gravity from each world constantly pulls on whatever comes from it. Which naturally makes Jim and Kirsten’s hilariously shallow love story a bit more complicated. Blah blah blah corporate conspiracy, magic goo, lens flares, motion sickness inducing camera angles. You know the deal. They eventually overcome the barriers between their love.
Look, I’m not totally opposed to genre mixing with sci-fi. It can be done.
But Upside Down is just pathetically empty. Anything even mildly compelling from the evil corporation/magic goo subplots gets pushed aside so Kirsten and Jim can long for each other in moody, CGI settings.
Sci-fi is a genre that is excellent for having a message, but I couldn’t find one here. All I got from this was that love will find a way, which isn’t original. And when it’s this underdeveloped, it’s meaninglessly arbitrary.
Everything looks nice, though.
Why I hate this movie:
Seriously, Jim and Kirsten have very limited childhood interaction with each other (they talk to each other from on top of mountains). When they’re teenagers, Kirsten falls and hits her head, giving her explosive amnesia. Having not seen her in 10 years, Jim randomly sees her on TV one day, so puts his life in endless danger just so he can get close to her. There is zero context for their relationship apart from “they knew each other for a bit when they were, like, 10.”
The danger of the gravity is inconsistent. Kirsten gets amnesia from a fucking bump on the head after falling a few metres onto a rocky mountaintop. Jim, however, survives an ocean-to-ocean, hundreds of metres fall with barely a scratch. Because water is soft, right?
There’s a moment early on (just before Kirsten bumps her head) where teenage Jim takes teenage Kirsten onto his side and walks around the forest with her on his shoulders. She’s being severely pulled by the gravity of her planet, and is only holding onto Jim by him lightly resting his hands on hers. If they even slip up a little bit, she would go hurtling back to her planet, and as we see from the piddly little fall she takes minutes later, this would be gravely injurious. Fucking teenagers.
During their date Up Top, Kirsten doesn’t notice Jim’s shoes billowing out smoke.
Jim steals shitloads of inverse matter from his job at the Evil Corporation. None of his bosses ever notice.
Kirsten has a massive (but not quite Bella level) sook about Jim when she finds out he lied to her about stuff. Bitch, you guys went on one date, and your memory hasn’t come back yet. So as far as you’re concerned, this is just that flighty guy you, and I’ll say it again, went on one date with. Stahp.
There’s a random chase scene through the rusting skeleton of a zeppelin near the end. Comes out of fucking nowhere.
I’ll award a rare, I Just Hate Everything worst line to this stinker from Jim during the closing narration: “Our love would forever alter the course of history.” Spew. Also, huh?
Oh, and they never pull out an upside down kiss. Kirsten got all that practice for nothing.
Reasons to watch:
The one thing Upside Down gets completely right are the effects. Yeah, they’re slathered in CGI nonsense and lens flares, but the visuals are truly astounding. The angle awkwardness is sickeing at first, but you get used to it. It’s charming.
Kirsten Dunst does a decent job with the limited role she’s given. Though I think “radiant, slightly mystical dream girl” is pretty much her thing now.
Jim Sturgess is cute and earnest. He delivered.
Timothy Spall affects a grating American accent, but fills out his supporting role respectably. He’s one of the few Up Toppers who is kind to Jim, and even helps him fudge security clearance so he can see Kirsten. Later, he helps perfect the pink goo to allow inter-world travel, and he out-businesses Evil Corp to get all the profit from it. He stylin’.
Though at times a bit apathetic towards them (like the piggyback scene), the movie is pretty faithful to the sci-fi rules it sets out regarding the gravity etc. Consistency is key.
The pink goo’s main plot function is as a potential anti-aging cream (that’s what Jim is doing with it for Evil Corp). I lol’d.
The swanky restaurant/café place at the point between the worlds’ gravity is poshtastic. I want to go to there.
The Down Belowers use inverse matter (matter from Up Top) for heating, because it burns naturally when it’s in contact with their stoves. Smart.
Oh, and Up Toppers drink upside down cocktails. Because they’re fancy as fuck, and I want one. Or 10.
It’s Cloud Atlas for the shallow and time-poor. I haven’t seen Cloud Atlas, but I know it’s over twice as long, and just the poster stinks of exponentially more pretentious garabage than you’ll get here. 2 out of 5 stars.