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Upside Down Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray Review

Upside Down (2013) movie poster Upside Down

US Theatrical Release: March 15, 2013 / Running Time: 108 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Juan Solanas / Writers: Juan Solanas (screenplay, adaptation & dialogue); Santiago Amigorena, Pierre Magny (adaptation & dialogue)

Cast: Jim Sturgess (Adam Kirk), Kirsten Dunst (Eden Moore), Timothy Spall (Bob Boruchowicz), Blu Mankuma (Albert), Nicholas Rose (Pablo), James Kidnie (William Lagavulin), Vlasta Vrana (Mr. Hunt), Kate Trotter (Becky), Holly O'Brien (Paula), Elliott Larson (Adam Kirk - 12 Years Old), Maurane Arcand (Eden Moore - 10 Years Old), Janine Theriault (Miss Maguire)

Buy Upside Down from Amazon.com: Blu-ray 3D + 2D • Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD • DVD • Instant Video

Eleven years ago, Kirsten Dunst contributed to cinema's most iconic upside down kiss in Spider-Man. Now, Upside Down has her again finding love in an opposite direction, this time at length.

Argentine filmmaker Juan Solanas makes his English language debut on this dystopian romantic fantasy thriller, which spells out its high concept quickly. It is set on twin planets with their own, opposite gravities.
One resembles a bleak version of our own world and in the sky immediately above is a more industrialized planet whose humans are pulled upward by gravity. It's largely a matter of perspective and one the film toys with, but life is quite different on the nearby worlds and interaction is only allowed by Transworld, the giant oil corporation that runs everything while running through the two planets.

Planetary rules and prejudices are unknown or at least unappreciated by Adam, an orphan from below, and Eden, a girl from above, who begin a friendship as children at the mountaintops where their worlds are closest. A teenage incident deals Eden amnesia that continues to plague her in adulthood (now played by Dunst). When Adam (Jim Sturgess), a mechanic in his poor, cold underworld, learns that his dream girl is now working for Transworld, he applies for a job there and gets one as an entry-level engineer.

Adam Kirk (Jim Sturgess) gets a job on Transworld's Floor Zero, with co-workers upside down above him.

There, Adam quickly develops an anti-aging cream that also functions as an anti-gravity substance. It enables him to flip over and pass as a denizen from up above, but Eden's memory loss renders his excitement to meet his oldest friend less than mutual. Adding conflict, of course, is Transworld's insistence on full separation between the two worlds and its interest vested in Adam's revolutionary formula.

On paper, Upside Down sounds interesting. Watching it, however, proves to be a less than enjoyable experience. The problems begin on a very basic level. Upside-down photography is disorientating. Try watching any given video that way or even looking at a picture that has been flipped. The human brain cannot easily process it. If not outright inducing nausea or vertigo, Upside Down at least unsettles you anytime it's not shattering cinema's steadfast 180-degree rule. Even Timothy Spall, an actor you should know from at least the Harry Potter series and Enchanted, becomes unrecognizable turned on his head and sporting an American accent as Adam's sympathetic, suddenly fired mentor. My stomach churns at the prospect of watching this film in 3D, which is an option on Blu-ray though it wasn't in American theaters.

Amnesiac Eden Moore (Kirsten Dunst) is not happy to recognize a familiar face performing a demonstration upside down. Recently laid-off longtime Transworld worker Bob Boruchowicz (Timothy Spall) likes what he sees in this gravity-defying orb.

The problems go beyond the spatial, technical, and mental. Despite its interesting ideas and visuals, Upside Down relies on dubious storytelling, as it casts a giant corporation as villain and asks "What if love was stronger than gravity?" In his defense, writer-director Solanas doesn't seem to have a tremendous grasp of the English language, as he shares "adaptation & dialogue" credits with two other scribes. But that's not a great excuse for his film being as slow, dumb, and dizzying as it is.
It's clear when the conclusion arrives sooner than expected (but not soon enough) that visuals have been given precedence over story here. There is nothing to Adam and Eden's romance, not even convincing attraction, making it difficult to invest in the "love conquers all (even greedy oil corporations!)" design.

Solanas' priorities are so out of whack that it is staggering to learn that he was able to generate a reported $50 million production budget. That's nothing compared to today's biggest films and the costs are believable based on the abundance of production design and visual effects. But it makes Upside Down tantamount to a bank robbery or money bonfire. There is just no way this movie had a shot at commercial success. Foreign markets have not compensated for the domestic flopping, in which the film grossed just $105 thousand from a few dozen theaters last spring. Box Office Mojo's numbers do not compute, as the site claims that China and Russia have contributed $17.5 million to the film's current $8 million international haul. Nonetheless, it seems safe to say that even without Hollywood accounting practices, this film never leaves the red, nor does it deserve to for its insulting hooey.

Millennium Entertainment brings Upside Down to stores tomorrow in a single-disc DVD, a hybrid Blu-ray 3D/2D disc, and a combo pack holding both. We look at the middle of those three options here.

Upside Down Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray 3D & Blu-ray Disc Details

2.35:1 Widescreen
5.1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Extras Not Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Keepcase
Also available on Blu-ray 3D/2D + DVD ($34.99 SRP), DVD ($28.99 SRP),
and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

In case you couldn't tell from the images above, Upside Down is a highly stylized film, which relies heavily on tints of teal, blue, yellow, and green. The Blu-ray's 2.35:1 presentation is pretty nice and striking, with the often steely images mostly staying sharp and clean, although the cinematography occasionally gets grainy or lacks focus. Sound is offered in 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and plain 2.0 stereo. The former packs a punch, with score, dialogue, and effects being tastefully and crisply distributed from a variety of directions.

Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst use their imaginations on the largely green screen set of "Upside Down." Preliminary sketches foreshadow the film's visuals using paints rather than CGI.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Extras, which are presented in a range of HD, begin with "The Making Of" (25:10, 720p), a general and routine featurette that is chockfull of behind-the-scenes footage. Juan Solanas and his international cast and crew (the producers are mostly French) discuss the project, foreigners speaking in their native tongues with subtitles.
There are copious looks at the partially green screen sets, wire stunts, and CG embellishments, but none of it heightens your appreciation of the movie.

Two short deleted scenes (1:45) show us actors floating on wires.

"History of the World" (2:46) shows us storyboards for the opening originally conceived for the film with commentary from heavily-accented writer-director Solanas.

"Juan and Jim" (0:17) turns cell phone video of the director and star's collaboration into a very short old-timey comic short.

Twenty-four "Preliminary Sketches" in an infinitely looped, image gallery envision the film's settings in color illustrations.

Adam and Eden run in a deleted forest sequence's storyboards. Upside Down's theatrical trailer makes use of clauses like this one.

A tango scene is treated to a storyboard-to-film comparison (1:41) with tiny storyboards aligning with the full-sized final film clip frames around them. A deleted forest sequence is presented in full-sized storyboard form (1:51) with Solanas commentary.

Three scenes -- "Sage Mountains" (2:51), "Office - Zero Floor" (3:01), "Final Shot" (2:55) -- are presented in CG previsualizations with Solanas commentary.
When Solanas stops talking, the final soundtrack for the corresponding scene (which is shown split-screen the aforementioned manner) becomes audible.

Finally, Previews adds Upside Down's trailer (2:31) to the five with which the disc automatically opens, promoting Brooklyn Castle, The Iceman, What Maisie Knew, Straight A's, and Stuck in Love.

The menu plays clips given an electric blue tint. The disc unfortunately doesn't support bookmarks, resume playback, or remember where you left off, which makes incomplete viewings a slight chore to finish.

The standard blue keepcase is topped by a slightly embossed foil slipcover. No inserts are held within.

Having experienced a rainy nighttime upside down kiss from a superhero, Kirsten Dunst doesn't seem all that excited by a daytime indoor upside down phone chat with Jim Sturgess in "Upside Down."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Upside Down may get your attention with its bold concept and ambitious visuals, but neither of those should distract you from the paper-thin fairy tale romance it uses them to tell. Even if the photography somehow doesn't disorient you, the trite storytelling is likely to disappoint.

Millennium's Blu-ray is reasonably priced and wields sufficient supplements. I'm not sure this 3D & 2D Blu-ray-only edition was needed in addition to a 3D & 2D BD + DVD combo pack, but this disc will best serve those who want a hi-def presentation of the film and have no use for DVD.

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Blu-ray 3D + 2D / Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Branded • In Time • Being John Malkovich • Looper • La Jetιe • WALL•E
Jim Sturgess: 21 • Across the Universe • The Way Back • The Other Boleyn Girl
Kirsten Dunst: Spider-Man • Spider-Man 2 • Spider-Man 3 • Kiki's Delivery Service • New York Stories
Timothy Spall: Life Is Sweet • Enchanted • Sweeney Todd • The King's Speech • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Reviewed June 24, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 Millennium Entertainment, Upside Down Films, and Les Films Upsidedown Inc.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.