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Friday, February 14, 2014

Movies You Missed: Upside Down

Posted By on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 4:51 PM

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This week in movies you missed: Just for you on Valentine's Day, a romance that asks, "What if love was stronger than gravity?"

Now there's a question that never occurred to Sandra Bullock's character in Gravity while she was worrying about all that sciencey stuff.

What You Missed

"The universe, so full of wonders," rhapsodizes Jim Sturgess in voiceover as the film opens. "I could spend hours and hours looking up at the sky. So many stars, so many mysteries. And there's one very special star that makes me think of one very special person."

So, yeah. Sturgess' character, Adam, goes on to explain our premise. Two planets somehow exist so close together that you can throw a rope between them, and they have opposite gravity! Gravity that sticks to you. So everybody (and everything) from the world called Up-Top will always be drawn toward it, and same goes for the Down-Below world. If you want to visit the opposite world and walk upright, you'll have to weight yourself down with "inverse matter" from that world, but the inverse matter gets hot and burns if you hold it too long. Got that?!

Oh, and don't take a bathroom break in the other world. Trust me on this.

Anyway, Adam is from Down-Below, which is basically the third world planet, and Eden (Kirsten Dunst) is from Up-Top, which is glittery and modern and kind of totalitarian. They meet as children when they both climb mountains and get a gander at each other, and they fall madly in love. Many things will stand in their way, and the plot resolution will depend in part on pink pollen stolen from interplanetary bees.

Why You Missed It

According to Variety, Upside Down was made for $50 million in 2012. It grossed about $100K at 39 U.S. theaters (none here), $8 million worldwide. Now you can find it on Netflix Instant and other video/VOD sources.

Should You Keep Missing It?

If you're dying for something frothy, fantastical, true-love-obsessed and CGI-ridden and can't afford to go out and see Winter's Tale this weekend, Upside Down is a cheap pick. If you enjoy big, fancy debacles and just all-around bad movies, you may already know about it. The folks at the Flop House devoted a podcast to it, after all. The AV Club catalogued its many illogical inconsistencies — not with Newtonian physics, which is sort of a given, but with its own premise and rules.

Director Juan Solanas supposedly got the idea from a dream — and, hey, why not? Bizarre, dreamlike premises can make for emotionally evocative films: Melancholia isn't the most scientifically rigorous story, either.

The real problems with Upside Down are at least twofold: First, Solanas doesn't seem to know how to coax a soulful performance out of Dunst — or, really, out of anyone. She moves around like a robot, and Adam and Eden (argh) have zero chemistry. They never flirt or even really talk; we're told they're destined to love each other, but we don't see it.
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Second and linked: Urgh, the screenplay is terrible. Now, in recent years there's been a trend of sci-fi movies about class revolt, and it's a trend I like — in theory. Unfortunately, rather than bringing us another Brazil or even Gattaca, the Occupy movement's inspiration has brought us Elysium and In Time — ambitious, high-concept stories with inert characters and ridiculous plots.

Upside Down
is worse than those — way worse, because at least the heroes of those films had motives beyond "get with my sweetie." Adam has no class consciousness and no interest in anything but being with Eden, 'cause, I dunno, she's purty. (Don't they have any chicks Down-Below?) And Eden appears to have no interest in Adam or anything else. She's a wan placeholder in a poncho.

So on second thought, maybe it's not the best choice for V-Day weekend unless you and your sweetie enjoy watching bad flicks together.

Verdict: a visually stunning movie that entertains with its sheer stupidity.

This Week in Theaters

For romantics: Winter's Tale, About Last Night and Endless Love. (Yes, the last two are remakes of movies that weren't very good to begin with.) The week's third remake is counterprogramming: RoboCop!

I thought Asghar Farhadi's The Past would be a Movie You Missed, but happily, no! It's at the Roxy and Savoy. See The Great Beauty at the Roxy, too.

Find movie descriptions and times here. Just click the movie poster of your choice.

This Week on Video

All Is Lost, The Armstrong Lie, "The Americans," season 1, Austenland, The Best Man Holiday, The Counselor, Diana, Ender's Game, How I Live Now, Wadjda.



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Upside Down
Rated PG-13 · 105 min. · 2013
Official Site: www.upsidedown-movie.com
Director: Juan Diego Solanas
Writer: Santiago Amigorena and Juan Diego Solanas
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Jim Sturgess, Jayne Heitmeyer, Neil Napier, Larry Day, John Maclaren, Heidi Hawkins, Don Jordan and Agnieshka Wnorowska
Winter's Tale
Rated PG-13 · 118 min. · 2014
Staff Rating:
Official Site: www.winterstalemovie.com
Director: Akiva Goldsman
Writer: Akiva Goldsman and Mark Helprin
Producer: Akiva Goldsman, Michael Tadross and Tony Allard
Cast: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Eva Marie Saint, Ripley Sobo and Mckayla Twiggst

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About The Author

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison

Bio:
Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.

More by Margot Harrison

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