Upside Down – film review

Theatrical poster for "Upside Down".
Theatrical poster for “Upside Down”.
Editor’s Note: Since there have been so many genre films being released lately, we thought we’d give you a double dose today. Enjoy both reviews!

Upside Down is a visually imaginative soft science fiction film (with the occasional touches of fantasy) starring Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst, and directed and written by Juan Solanis.

Adam (played by Sturgess) is from Down, the poorer and more exploited twin of Up. The twin worlds are quite close to each other, but have “double gravity”, where the matter from each world is only attracted to its own world. This prevents people from Up or Down from going to the other world without a lot of effort, and this is a forbidden act and can be punishable by death.

Eden is from Up, and when they are young teenagers, she and Adam meet on opposite mountain peaks when she is searching the mountains for her dog. Initially timid, the two eventually fall in love and meet there as often as possible. During one of those meetings, hunters from Down shoot the rope Adam is using to raise Eden back to her world, causing her to fall and injure her head. Ten years pass without contact when Adam sees her on a television show promoting a contest for TransWorld, the only company allowed contact with both worlds. In order to meet her, Adam gets a job at the company.

The visuals in this film are absolutely stunning, and they likely took up most of the budget. The scenes inside the TransWorld building on Floor 0 were extremely well done and extremely well designed. The mountaintop scenes with Adam and Eden (of course there was no metaphor implied in their names; how can you even think that?) were even more breathtaking, complete with swirling clouds from each world. At one, point, Adam falls back down (or up, depending on your point of view) to the ocean on Down from the ocean on Up, and the cinematography on the scene is spectacular.

The music by Benoît Charest fit the film very well, and I will purchase the soundtrack if they actually release one. The different music used for Up and Down fit the worlds very well and served to emphasize the difference between the two worlds. I was really intrigued by the story itself, as well, which is what led me to see this film. Solanis truly came up with a wonderfully intriguing “What if…?” which draws you in right from the start. Unfortunately, the script and pacing didn’t come up to the standard set by the visuals and music.

All throughout the film, the dialogue seemed stilted and unnatural, and that really distracted from my enjoyment of the film. In many spots, it felt as if the actors were trying to do a good job but were being restrained from really doing their best. I even commented to my wife at the end of the film, “You know, this film makes me think of the book Eragon: it was an amazing idea and had interesting content, but wasn’t executed as well as it could have been in more adept hands.”

Overall, the positives and the negatives of Upside Down pretty much evened out, making this a good solid average film. I liked it enough to buy it because of the amazing effects work in it, and I recommend seeing it at least once just for that (and the music), but it is definitely not one of my favorites.

Release Date: August 31, 2012 (Canada)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

MySF Rating: Three point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 95%


Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some social drinking and smoking)
Language: 1 (deity once, profane gesture)
Nudity: 0
Sexuality: 0 (unless you count excessive kissing)
Violence: 2 (thuggery, main characters get shot at and wounded)

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