Friday, August 23, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Upside Down (2013) *

PG-13, 100 min.
Director/Writer: Juan Solanas
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Kirsten Dunst, Timothy Spall, Blu Mankuma, James Kidnie

“Upside Down” is a science fiction film that makes me think of Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity. If Newton came up with his theory, but was unable to connect it with why the apple fell on his head, then his story would have some semblance of the science fiction theories explored in this movie.

The movie depicts a universe in which two planets exist in the same orbit, with their surfaces just miles apart at one point. Why these planets don’t rotate upon their axis’ I don’t know. It seems like this wouldn’t work, but it was too inconvenient for the filmmakers to explain their story without the planets’ surfaces matching up at one fixed point. Every object on each planet is beholden only to the gravity of the planet from which they originated. In other words, if apple from planet A is placed on the surface of planet B, it will appear to fall up until it descends back on to the surface planet A. This makes for some awesome visuals, but some very complicated plot points. I could follow these points, but it’s overly complicated for the story they’re trying to tell, which boils down to a Beatles philosophy of love conquering all and changing the world.

Boy from planet A meets Girl from planet B—in a ridiculously unlikely circumstance—and they fall in love. They come up with a way to pass from one atmosphere to the other by climbing a rope from one planet’s high point to the other. They still have to fight their own planet’s gravity, however. In order to do this without a tether, antimatter from the planet you want to visit is required, but there are undesirable side effects, not the least of which being that one planet is the rich paradise, while the other is poor and downtrodden. Of course, it is illegal for citizens of planet A to travel to planet B.

But let’s deal with this antimatter thing. I’m no scientist, but it seems movies are really beginning to stretch the purposes of this very real material. Antimatter has become a lazy way to make something mundane sound more exciting and futuristic. Be it a really huge nuclear explosion or, as it’s used here, a counterweight. That’s essentially how the antimatter is used here. He uses it to weigh him down to the opposite planet’s gravitational pull.

But here’s the real kicker. Before the boy ever gets near even any chance at antimatter, he’s shown a formula that creates flying pancakes. His entire life’s work is based around the substance that causes these pancakes to fly, and in all that time it never occurs to him to develop a formula from this substance that allows him to fly to the other planet. Really!? What kind of an idiot is this genius? Really!? Gee willickers! It breaks the gravitational pull on inanimate objects, how could this possibly be applied to get me back to my girl on the other planet? Really!? What a maroon!

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