Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Love vs. gravity in charming, but implausible sci-fi romance 'Upside Down'

If Upside Down were in print, it would be an outline, not a complete novel. The grand sweep of the story is there, the big, climactic scenes are all plotted out exactly where they should be, and marvelous, fanciful, poetic images decorate key passages.

What's missing from Juan Solanas' ambitious, interplanetary sci-fi romance are the details—the solid conceptual underpinning that would make it all plausible, and a final polish on the dialogue that would bring the characters and their unique story to life.

In an alternative solar system, two unnamed planets are locked in an eternal pas de deux. They are so close together, the landscape of each planet is visible hovering in the sky above the other, but the opposing gravitational forces keep the inhabitants of each planet firmly rooted to their home world. Although at certain high altitudes, the twin worlds almost touch, intermingling between those "Up top" and those "Below" is strictly verboten by law and custom.

A rigorous caste system has developed between the sophisticated, high-tech Up Worlders and their counterparts Below—which is basically a windswept slum.
But  Down World boy, Adam (Jim Sturgess), and Up World girl, Eden (Kirsten Dunst), are teenagers in love. They've figured out a system of ropes and weights allowing them to defy law and gravity to spend stolen time together.

(In one of many charming visual moments, Eden attaches herself to the underside of a jutting crag, like a bat, obeying the gravity of her own planet, to stay put long enough for Adam to kiss her.) (Read more)

I so wanted to give this movie an extra star for sheer audacity, but I just couldn't do it. It has so many lovely images and ideas, but the science is iffy, a best, and so much of the dialogue sounds made-up on the spot (and not in a good way). Still, sci-fi fans may want to check it out just for the cool visuals.

(Oh, and btw, if they every make a movie of Paul McCartney's life story, Jim Sturgess is ready for his close-up.)

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