I need to come up with a more balanced system for these movie reviews so I don’t harp on the negatives too much, because sometimes I just have next to nothing very positive to say. This one is no exception, so here is a review. (SPOILERS AHEAD!)
The trailer made me really curious about this movie. After seeing films like Inception, an Escher-esque, perception-bending fantasy love-story seemed like a great idea. The movie started out like a great, Stardust–style fairy-tale, with a narrator explaining the setting and it all seemed like it was going to be a fun ride. It started out cleverly enough, but then the adult characters were introduced…
The Pros: The visuals are really cool, and there’s a trippy kaleidoscope effect when the upside-down world meets the rightside-up world. The concept and the idea of two twin worlds close to each other had a lot of potential. Definitely some very cool shots, from the chandelier in the ballroom to the mountain-tops that got close to each other.
The Cons: Everything else—though I think it all came down to the writing. The dialogue seemed trite and forced, unnatural, immature, and irrational at times. The underlying plot itself was almost non-existent, and really just became “Guy meets girl on the other side and they must be together against all odds” in the most generic of ways, without the tragedy of Romeo & Juliet. They even ruined a few moments of potential revelation or surprise when they set up Eden’s amnesia in a scene before Adam ran into her again. It didn’t work as dramatic irony, it just seemed like over-explaining. Oh my god, I just realized their names were Adam and Eden. Really? really.
It also dragged. I can’t even remember what it was that was or wasn’t happening, but it got boring often. Acting-wise, there wasn’t much, but I will say it mostly had to do with the writing and the lackluster dialogue. I am giving Jim Sturgess one more strike before I start avoiding movies with him in them. He picks really interesting films, concept-wise, so maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh. I just felt like he was acting like a young teenager the entire time, and it was making me crazy. I will always love Kirsten Dunst for some reason, but it’s probably because she played Claudia in Interview with the Vampire, and Claire in Elizabethtown. Also, because of this video (nsfw). She was just sorta “there” in Upside Down.
This film majorly suffered from poor character development. At first, the early scene with the pancakes and the aunt felt fantastic, like a scene from Amelie, and when I saw it I thought, “yes! This is how you do modern fantasy!” And then nothing quite like that ever happened again. After this, there was barely any character development. Nothing happened that made me particularly like either of the characters. They just jumped into the series of events and that’s all we ever saw of them.
Plot holes: The movie constantly broke its own rules. In the intro, the narrator said that if matter from one world’s gravity came in contact with another, it would eventually burn, with no exceptions. Even though a major plot-point of the movie was the fact that Adam kept wearing a suit filled with up-matter, almost everything else seemed forgotten. It was important for his up-matter to burn his suit and shoes, etc, but that was it.
Case in point, the office building often traded paperwork and boxes of items from the up-world to the down-world, etc. Shouldn’t that matter eventually burst into flame? The box under Adam’s desk should’ve burst into flames later that night, the stamps that he gave Bob should’ve burnt on their strings… They even drink the opposite world’s beverages in the bar. And let’s not even talk about Eden getting pregnant. Ouch.
Also, Adam probably would’ve died if he fell from ocean to ocean like that.
Oh, and the part where they burn Adam’s aunt’s house and take her away, never to be seen again? What the hell happened to her? Adam was fine, and it was totally his fault. They never resolved this, and it annoyed me. He didn’t even seem that broken up about it…
Aaaand, how the hell were two children able to climb up to the top of seemingly high-altitude, snow-capped mountains to see each other, obviously in restricted areas? *sigh* (Edit: okay, maybe it wasn’t high-altitude, but it sure looked like it in some of the shots…)
It’s safe to say that I didn’t like this movie, mostly because it seemed like a missed opportunity for a really fun concept.