Love stories are a common thing in the realm of storytelling and filmmaking but not quite like this. “Upside Down” is a love story about two people who aren’t star-crossed, but planet crossed and risk everything to be together.
Adam and Eden (Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst) live on twinned worlds with gravities that pull in opposite directions. Their budding but illicit romance ends when Eden suffers an apparently fatal fall. However, years later when Adam learns she is still alive and working at a vast corporation whose towering headquarters connects their planets, he sets out on a dangerous quest to reconnect with her.
With “Upside Down” writer/director Juan Solanas has given us a interesting looking yet, muddled love story that leans on some tired clichés in the genre that will ultimately only appeal to 12 year old girls and rides the gimmick of inverted worlds about as far as it will go. Visually he borrows from a variety of films that remind viewers of films like Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”, Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” and Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” crafting wonderful looking set pieces that easily put us into the right state of mind full accepting this world that we are watching. However the execution on the script was tired and dull. Opening the film with our hero providing narration for himself throughout a chunk of the first act and the Dunst/Sturgess love story that should be a no brainer really goes nowhere quite fast as the film leans on its gimmick far too much, despite looking pretty darn spectacular. Anyone with any sort of visual displacement disorder should never see this movie as it does get disorientating at times. The social themes in the narrative are heavy handed even at the best of times and it has so many aspects about it that clunk like a lead balloon that the film never truly feels like it does anything of note and just sits there hoping that being pretty will be enough.
Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst on paper should be a perfectly adorable couple, however they never get there at all. As Sturgess crosses over between worlds, he displays a sort of anxiousness that is supposed to come across as endearing but ends up as artificial. Dunst is OK with what she is given, but with some of the logic gaps and cornball setups in the narrative it makes increasingly difficult to get behind both actors as a couple. The wonderful Timothy Spall provides some sage and entertaining comic relief, but the words and the execution just weren’t on the page for any of these actors to pull any more from this film.
It’s hard to believe but the film actually looks a lot better on Blu-Ray then it did in theatre and the special features include the making of “Upside Down”, deleted scenes, a variety of behind the scenes featurettes, preliminary sketches, previz animatics , storyboards and trailers.
At the end of the day, “Upside Down” is a very pretty film that actually plays a little easier on the eyes of the small screen then the big one. It also happens to one hell of a mess as a cookie cutter love story that borrows a basic arc from every love story ever told and does almost nothing with it.
2 out of 5 stars.
“Upside Down” is now available to rent on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand from all major providers. You can also find it for purchase from retailers like HMV, iTunes and amazon.ca.
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