Nerd Queen Flick Reviews: Upside Down

Upside Down DVD gets motion sick

Nerd Queen sunMy dear fellow nerditarians, c’est moi once again! It has been entirely too long for me to return and reply with a new post about something science fiction or steampunk related, or other such indulgence. Therefore, I have returned with a review of a movie I hadn’t seen yet.
My first impression of Upside Down when I saw the preview at a convention was I really want to see how it turns out. If it ends up being anything like Romeo and Juliet and the characters Adam and Eden end up dying, that would be the most predictable love story with science fiction used as a lame excuse for a brand or theme. It wouldn’t place itself with the actual genre.
But when my parents dragged me to their room to watch the thing one night before work, I decided to give it a chance. I gave it several chances to surprise me, in fact, for there were several major story errors.
First of all, what I loved about it was the setting took place on a pair of twinned planets conjoined together with double gravity: where people lived on both planets and had gravity pulling on themselves by their respective planets, whereas objects from the opposite planet had a free falling zero gravity effect on the other planet. The second thing I loved was the love story between Jim Sturgess and the original “Spiderwoman” Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane Watson from Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy) as Adam and Eden, a genius inventor from the poverty stricken Down Below and a career woman from a big corporation on the wealthy planet Up Top. All the while, Adam finds some revolutionary scientific serums and creams to make people’s lives better on both worlds, made out of a special pink honey from anti gravity bees. Throughout the film, there is tension between them due to the physically detrimental and illegal visits from Adam to Up Top and the fact that Eden got a case of amnesia due to a tragic accident when they were teenagers.
So don’t get me wrong, the premise and the story do not suck. It’s actually quite marvelous.
On the other hand, there were several scenes I wanted to rewrite, for the dialogue and plot needed some serious revision. The biggest issue with this film is that it had way too much exposition. Adam narrates the movie through the first five or ten minutes of the film as well as the last ten when really, we should have been shown what happened on both planets. Writers, readers, and movie goers all agree that audiences want to be surprised and fully immersed into the setting almost immediately. Watch Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity from the beginning and then watch Upside Down; you’ll see what I mean. (Hint: Gravity does the opposite of this film, hence why Cuaron got the Academy Award for Best Director.)
The second thing I couldn’t wrap my head around was there were huge gaps in the story. The transition from when you see Eden on television advertising on a game show in support of her company Transworld to her support group for her amnesia seemed a little lop sided. She’s supposed to be a successful business woman living in a high rise and going to lots of lavish ritzy parties.
And near the climax when Eden suddenly remembers everything, including Adam, and Adam crashes a party at her favorite five star upside down restaurant, she doesn’t even put up a fight. He just shows up after running after her to explain why he lied to her before and she just takes him in her arms and says she’s starting to remember their relationship? Come on, really? The screenwriter could have written a better scene where Eden calls Adam and they reunite where Eden finally admits she remembers him and she passionately missed him.
Finally, the last thing that struck a nerve was the writer nor the director didn’t bother to show what happened when someone from the other planet broke the law. We saw the dire consequences for inverse matter landing on the wrong planet, even with weights holding it down- a burning sensation followed by eventual incineration within hours- including people. But when Adam got shot down as a teen, letting go of the rope holding Eden, causing her to fall on her planet and major head trauma, hence the amnesia, we never saw the cops arresting anyone or a courtroom scene. All I saw was the scene where his house caught fire, his Aunt Becky was taken away, and Adam spent the rest of his life fending for himself as an orphan in the ghetto.
Honestly, there should have been more to this film. Perhaps too many scenes were cut from the film since barely anything plot-wise made any sense. The best parts were the visual effects where you could see the characters constantly looking up at each other to talk to one another. Some of the most astounding scenes were where Adam stepped into the Transworld office to come up with his anti aging cream formula and people from both worlds walked and worked in the same room on both the floor and the ceiling.
There was some sort of camaraderie and respect to both worlds with people looking up at each other and the camera angles and effects really showed it. The producers got a hold of a great cast, not just Dunst and Sturgess, but also Timothy Spall from the Harry Potter franchise and The King’s Speech, playing Adam’s fellow inventor pal and stamp collector from Up Top. All someone needs to do is rewrite the story and dialogue, maybe not from page one, but most of it.
After all, I couldn’t find one great, epic line out of it that I could quote back like I normally do. For Doctor Who’s The Snowmen, there are at least a dozen, such as, (Matt Smith/Doctor) “It’s called the Tardis. It can travel anywhere in time and space, and it’s mine. Go on, say it. I’ve heard them all.” (Jenna Coleman/Clara) “It’s smaller on the outside.” (Doctor) “Ok… that is a first.” And there’s the classic Clara Oswald line, “Run you clever boy and remember.”
Pirate Radio: “These are the best days of our lives.” RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Ruby Sparks (my #1 favorite indie film): “She was real! She was for real!”
ABC TV’s Pushing Daisies: (Chuck) “I have so many questions, my mind wanders!” (Ned) “You need to feed it warm milk and a turkey sandwich, let it curl up in a sunny spot and take a nap.”
Disney’s Enchanted: (Dempsey/Robert) “That’s why I don’t encourage the fairy tales, with all that dreams come true nonsense.” (Amy Adams/Giselle) “Oh but dreams do come true!”
I know a lot more than that, but I won’t go any further with it. So, where are the poignant or funny lines in Upside Down? I think that’s what it needs most. It needs more wit to coincide with the polar planets.
Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)

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