Director Juan Solanas attempts to blend heavy sci-fi with sappy romance in his latest film Upside Down, starring Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst. Together the two give the film its much-needed chemistry between the two romantic leads, but Solanas’ own script suffers from half-cooked ideas and full-on sequences that are simply beautiful to look at, but feature not a single second of importance.
Adam (Jim Sturgess) and Eden (Kirsten Dunst) live in a universe containing two worlds with opposite gravity. Adam lives on the bottom world, which is where the poor suffer daily for scraps from the world up above, while Eden lives in that world up above, which is where the rich and wealthy live and work. The two meet early on in their childhood and almost instantly become magnetically drawn to each other by the strongest power in the universe — love.
Love holds them together, despite gravity physically pulling them apart. The two get separated for years, yet the still manage to find each other again, almost as if it was their destiny.
Juan Solanas’ Upside Down is an overly sappy and far too dramatic love story with a hard sci-fi twist thrown in. The genre shifts never quite gel, despite Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst’s strong on-screen chemistry as two heart-struck lovers that cannot function without the other one in their own life.
Upside Down is a notable film, even if it’s also a notable failure. Solanas attempts to expose the audience to a richly-detailed world (or worlds) and the result is something that deserves points for creativity and visual artistry, but the film must also be held accountable for its severely lacking story.
The script is almost unbearable at times; mixing some atrocious dialogue with science that doesn’t even make sense within the rules that Solanas has not only created, but literally presented at the beginning of the film. Upside Down jumps around freely through various plot holes, while also skipping far too many important beats as far as establishing the core relationship. The love between Adam and Eden almost feels forced at some moments, because the film moves a lot quicker than it should in some areas, while focusing on scenes with not a single shred of importance.
Solanas does this because he’s trying to show the massive world that he’s created. That’s fine and dandy, but very frustrating when it comes to trying to get the story across. Things never balance out and eventually Upside Down turns itself inside out trying to strike at that emotional core, but the film comes up empty and leaves the viewers with a headache, due to the constant camera shifts.
The film ends on a very bad note too. The last line uttered had some people standing up and walking out when I first saw the film theatrically and viewing it again on Blu-Ray simply made me laugh incredibly loud. I doubt that was Solanas’ intention, but the line is so awful and bad — there’s just no other way to process it.
Upside Down has brief moments of quality, but most of that is washed away by Juan Solanas’ writing and the over-acting by the film’s two stars. The visuals are great and often remarkable, but completely empty when viewed as nothing but a backdrop for a shallow love story.
The film yields both a 2D and 3D 1080p video transfer. The 2D transfer is quite the beauty. The film-like texture of the transfer definitely lends itself well for the film’s up-close shots that rely mostly on facial texture and color consistency on costumes and close-by sets. The CGI sometimes appears a bit fake, but mostly works wonders, due to Solanas and his cinematographer getting some truly amazing shots that make the film come alive.
The 3D transfer isn’t as strong as the 2D counterpart, because it suffers from being a little too dark and most of the 3D effect can be described as going inwards and not so much coming outwards. Still, it’s an added bonus and something that only makes the package a little better.
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track shifts focus and changes angles almost as much as the camera does. Dialogue is never contained to one channel, while environmental noises come out of every single speaker. The film gets high marks for its visuals, but it should also be commended for its rich and deep audio track that operates on the same level of importance as the video.
Here’s a list of bonus material featured on this disc:
- 3D & 2D transfers of the film
- The Making Of (3D)
- Deleted Scenes (3D)
- History of the World (3D)
- Juan and Jim (3D)
- Preliminary Sketches (3D)
- Tango Storyboards (3D)
- Missing Forest Storyboards (3D)
- Sage Mountain Previz (3D)
- Office Previz (3D)
- Final Shot Previz (3D)
- Previews (HD)
Upside Down is a noble failure that tries very hard to achieve so much, but ultimately comes up a little too short. Juan Solanas has definitely crafted a visual spectacle, but the film’s beauty rarely coexists with the film’s romantic core. The visuals too often come first and that causes the story to suffer in a major way. Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst attempt to keep things balanced, but they’re just not given enough time or space to work with and it shows.
The Blu-Ray comes with both 2D and 3D transfers and a handful of bonus material that’s actually viewable in 3D, which makes the disc something I’d almost suggest picking up come Black Friday. Don’t bother with this one for full price though.