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Review: 'Upside Down' leaps with love, imagery

March 14, 2013|By Gary Goldstein
  • Jim Sturgess, left, and Kirsten Dunst in "Upside Down."
Jim Sturgess, left, and Kirsten Dunst in "Upside Down." (Millennium Entertainment )

It's best not to overthink the sci-fi love story "Upside Down" and just enjoy its dazzling visuals, dream-like inventiveness and lush romanticism.

Writer-director Juan Solanas' dystopian concoction is set in twinned worlds with opposite gravity pulls: the bleak, impoverished "Down Below" and "Up Top," a wealthy hub of industry and exploitation. These inverted planets (they often strikingly share the same frame here), are ruled by the sinister, all-powerful Transworld Corp., whose soaring headquarters connects both worlds and provides the only legal access between them.

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At the center of it all are Adam (Jim Sturgess), who is "Down Below," and Eden (Kirsten Dunst) who is "Up Top." Childhood friends and smitten teenagers, they reunite after a 10-year estrangement.

Adam, who's developing a landmark anti-aging cream, and Eden, who has amnesia (long story), both end up working at Transworld and once again flip for each other, literally and figuratively. As they fight gravity, forbidden love and interplanetary edicts, complications — some fun, some exciting, some muddled — ensue.

Sturgess ("Across the Universe," "21") brings enormous charisma and energy to the earnest Adam, while Dunst convinces as the gentle, beguiling Eden. Timothy Spall adds giddy charm as an ousted Transworld employee.

Though the film's sociopolitical messaging is less compelling and original than its eye-popping imagery (kudos to Solanas' visual effects team and Alex McDowell's production design), the fanciful "Upside Down" is worth the leap.

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"Upside Down."

Rated PG-13 for some violence.

Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes.

At ArcLight Cinemas, Hollywood; the Landmark, West Los Angeles.

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