A Life of Film + [2012]

Upside Down (2012)

Pretty, and wonderful to look at. Also the most sickening film I've seen this year. By the end of it I was making a face like this (・へ・) and not for the reasons you would expect. Upside Down is a fantasy fairy tale. I wish someone would have told me this before I saw it. When I initially noticed the trailer, I quickly turned it off halfway because I didn't wanna see the best bits of the movie (as I always do with films I'm certain I'll be watching) and while this habit has served me very well indeed, it kinda backfired bigtime this once. Before we get to the vomit inducing sickly sweetness, let me praise the beginning. It starts off with a nifty animated infographic type of dealio. As you probably surmised from the trailer, there's two worlds on top of eachother. How? Why? Fuck you, that's why. I wish more movies had the balls that Upside Down put on display.
So as the intro sequence rolls along we get some narration from the main character telling us the rules of the universe; 'This is how things are here.' and sure, it's completely illogical, impossible and stupid, but what I really liked is that instead of the movie wasting time on exposition, self-justification and explanation, it just dumps the rules of the world into the opening few minutes and then gets the hell on with the story. So yeah, that was nice. The first quarter/half of the movie is also quite nice, but after that it kinda loses steam and gets lost in the most painfully cliched and overpoweringly perfect fairytale love story you done ever laid eyes upon. There's a certain point in the film where I just got the distinct impression that they pushed this aesthetic as far as they could, and then after that point they just kept doing more of the same because, well, runtime and shit. And that really sucks for a number of reasons. Firstly, it sucks because the film does a hell of a job of continually raising the bar and every shot is prettier than the last, and then all of a sudden it just plateaus out. But it doesn't actually feel like a plateau, it feels like a nosedive specifically because it's done such a good job of constantly climbing higher.
Perhaps more pertinently to the readers of this site, it also sucks because the only single reason this movie is here is because of the visuals. And when that no longer drives the film, it just becomes a Twilightesque tween girl's wet dream. And it also sucks because it sucks. Let me explain. That narration I mentioned earlier. I liked it in some ways, hated it in others. I hated it because it asks some rhetoric questions and as soon as those questions are asked, it removes even the slightest hint of mystery or doubt as to how it's going to end. In those first few minutes, we're told the rules of the universe, and then the narrator asks something along the lines of 'are these rules set in stone or can love overcome them?' uhhhh fuck you narrator guy. Of course love is going to overcome any obstacle in any movie, but do you really need to ask it in such an explicit way? Now, please brace yourself for some spoilers because I'm about to talk about the sickly sweetness that made me physically wince. Make sure you're holding onto something. Ready? One of the laws of the world is that matter from one universe will always be affected by it's own gravity. So we have the boy, from down below, and the girl, from up top and the rules state that they must always be pulled apart by their respective worlds' gravities. But this is where the POWER OF LOVE comes in. The girl from the world up top is now walking around in the world down below because she is pregnant with the boy's child, and this means that the matter is balanced out, you see? Or something. And this is how love overcame the laws of the universe. Ugh.
This whole revelation, the entire sequence, literally feels like it was handled by a 10 year old girl. While all of this is being delivered via insultingly poor dialogue, there is also the most ridiculously overdone sunrise ever. Ever. The film applied lensflare and bloom generously from the beginning, but my goodness did they pull out all the stops for this scene. But wait! There's more! Literally seconds before we're treated to what the POWER OF LOVE is capable of, one of the supporting characters from up top shows up down below as well because SCIENCE. Now, the main character has been spending a lot of time on the other side but at great cost and great risk. And now this other dude just shows up nice and comfortable and he's like 'lol me too, lol.'
I still haven't quite decided whether this is intentional irony or a plot hole. In either case, it completely nullifies the POWER OF LOVE. Now, I'm all for the scientific method and all that, but this being a hardout fairytale love story I was baffled by this contradiction. So, yeah. The film started off well enough, but soon lost its magical oompf. And then by the time the ending came along I was all like *wince*, both because of the horribly malformed and almost certainly unintentional juxtaposition of love and science, and also because of the painfully lubbydubbywaffywiffymiffymuffy ending.