Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Upside Down

Upside Down asks us whether love can overcome a powerful opposing force. The force of gravity, to be exact. Yes, it’s a metaphorical science fiction film that imagines two star-crossed lovers from different worlds kept apart by social prejudices and the strangest explanation for gravity we’ve ever heard. Does this love story soar, or is it weighed down by its own metaphors?  The nanobots are here to find out.

  • “Upside Down Films & Les Films Upside Down Inc. Present…” PASSION PROJECT ALERT!  = -5pts
  • Our opening narration is a physics lesson. A pretentious physics lesson. = -7pts
  • Matter from one world explodes when exposed to matter from the other world. = +5pts
  • The Evil Corporation’s genius scheme is to sell overpriced electricity that the buyers can’t afford. How exactly does that work? = -3pts
  • The Evil Corporation refines resources from the other world. Resources that will explode when brought back to the Evil Corporation’s world. This place is full of great ideas. = -3pts
  • The whole film is going to be told in voiceover, isn’t it? = -4pts
  • Pink interplanetary bees. = +10pts
  • This working class woman has discovered a substance that can work miracles and…  she uses it to make flying pancakes. = +2pts (-6pts, for trying to prove Ayn Rand right; +8pts, because flying pancakes would be pretty great)
  • Summiting a stratosphere-piercing mountain is child’s play. = +6pts
  • The lead’s first gift to his true love is an object that will shortly burst into flames.= +4pts
  • How long until the food from the other world bursts into flames inside Adam’s stomach?  = +3pts
  • These interplanetary bees are going to be the key to the plot, aren’t they? = -7pts
  • Movie, you can’t tell us that things from one world burst into flames when coming into contact with the other world, then not have anything burst into flames. = -6pts (For failing Foreshadowing 101.)
  • Our lead characters’ names are Adam and Eden. Yes, strap yourselves the fuck in, it’s that kind of movie. = -8pts
  • As punishment for Adam’s crime of… criminal activities, his aunt is arrested and her house is burned down. Adam, having been sufficiently punished, is free to go. = -3pts
  • Interplanetary bee pollen could revolutionize gravity, and the best application Adam can think of for it is beauty cream. We’re starting to figure out how these two are meant for each other. = -4pts
  • We think this dance sequence exists only to show off nice visuals. Which we’re ok with, because it’s better than the plot. = +4pts
  • Someone put liquid that will eventually explode into a pressurized bottle. As a prank. = +15pts
  • “We scrupulously observe a full separation between worlds.”  Unless pranks are involved. = +6pts
  • Eden has amnesia. But she attends Amnesiacs Anonymous. = +7pts (-8pts, for the tired cliché; +15pts, for creating a support group)
  • Bob wants to collect stamps that will quickly explode and destroy his collection. Bob is the worst collector. = -5pts
  • One hour in and no explosions. WE WERE PROMISED EXPLOSIONS. = -5pts
  • Adam sprays an aerosol can at himself when he could combust any minute. = -4pts
  • Eden laughing at poor people. = -5pts
  • We’re beginning to think we were lied to about spontaneous combustion. = -6pts
  • Oh wait, there it is. = -2pts (-5pts, for arbitrary story logic; +3pts for ‘splosions)
  • Who’d have thought Evil Corporation’s investment in a foreign urine detector would pay off? = +8pts
  • We’ll say this: this film is beautifully shot.= +10pts
  • Adam’s friend is as annoyed by the amnesia plot as we are. = +7pts (For self-awareness.)
  • Adam’s boss gives him a binder that will shortly explode. Because email must not exist in this universe. = -8pts
  • Random, meaningless firings are great for morale. = -6pts
  • Adam promises to bring his friends exploding souvenirs. = +8pts
  • Eden is charmed by Adam’s desperate, stalkery ways. = -7pts
  • Adam has not exploded yet. = -5pts
  • Evil Corporation executive thinks breasts and butts are miraculous. = -8pts
  • Do we know anything about Eden other than that she works for Evil Corporation and has amnesia? = -10pts (For not caring enough about the female half of the lead couple to give her any character.)
  • We’d ask why no biologist has discovered the pink interplanetary bees, but we aren’t sure biologists exist in this world. Competent physicists sure don’t. = -8pts
  • Whimsical sex is whimsical. = +8pts
  • But wait. Wouldn’t his semen combust in her abdomen? = -4pts
  • We know that airplanes are one of Adam’s passions because he said it once at the beginning of the film. = -8pts
  • You can’t have an omniscient narrator who knows less than the audience does. = -5pts
  • Eden faints for no discernible reason because she’s too delicate for either world. = -10pts
  • Everything works out because love and babies. = -15pts
  • Pregnancy > gravity. = -6pts
  • We’ll give you this, movie: You didn’t outright tell us that Adam and Eden’s baby will end income inequality. You just heavily implied it. = +7pts
  • Sequel bait. How cute. = -8pts

Total Score: -88pts
Availabe on: DVD, Netflix, Amazon Instant

Director Juan Solanas has talent as a visual director. Many of the shots are beautifully staged, and the special effects are generally great. It’s too bad that he had the thankless job of working with a script from writer Juan Solanas, who barely understands human interaction and has absolutely no understanding of science. The film sets up preposterous rules then proceeds to break them whenever they would be inconvenient to the plot. And this movie is long, running out of story barely halfway through. Still, its ridiculousness is quite entertaining. After all, can you really turn down a film whose plot turns on the magic pollen culled from pink interplanetary bees?

Score Technician: Andrew Daar

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