The genre of sci-fi transports you to another world. Good science fiction movies have the right balance of surrealism and reality. When you watch these films, you experience transcendence speckled with magic in a land of speculation. Does the 2012 romantic sci-fi film Upside Down check all these boxes? This review will dive deep into the film and analyze it in all its outlandishness. It will contain multiple spoilers, and you will find some solace in the conjecture presented below. Here’s the plot and ending of the movie Upside Down explained.
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Upside Down: Movie Plot Summary
The film is about the romance between Adam (Jim Sturgess) and Eden (Kirsten Dunst) that defies gravity. They are star-crossed lovers based on two inverted worlds with opposing gravities; Adam is from Down Below, and Eden lives Up Top. As indicated by the names, Down Below’s population lives in squalor and is marred by the oppressors of the Up Top. The only official physical touching point of the two worlds is the Transworld tower, owned and operated by the big wealthy corporation Transworld. The corporation plays the part of the traditional villain that stands in the way of love and humanity. The people running the show are elitist, exploitative, and barbaric against the population of the Down Below.
As narrated by Adam at the beginning of the film, the universe is governed by three absolute laws of physics:
- Each world has its own gravity, which purely and absolutely affects the matter of that planet only.
- The weight of any item can be countered by using the weight from the other world and is called inverse matter.
- Inverse matters burn on contact when in proximity to the skin after a while.
The only implied exception to the rules was the pink bees that gathered pollen from flowers of both worlds.
The romance between our leads develops when they happen across each other on two inverted mountains, the Sage Mountains, as kids and continues into their teenage years. One day, during their clandestine meeting, the lovebirds decide to explore the ground around the mountains. Shortly thereafter, they are discovered by security forces. Adam, who was levitating Eden back to her world, is shot that propels Eden to the ground of the Up Top. As she lies still, blood gushes from her head, and she is hinted to be dead. Adam, letting out a blood-curdling scream and calling Eden’s name, is dragged away by the authorities and arrested.
Ten years pass, and Adam is working on an anti-gravity serum that utilizes inverse matter and plans to market it as a beauty cream. Fate works its mysterious magic, and he comes across a TV broadcast that lets him know that Eden is alive and working at Transworld. His unfinished but promising anti-gravity serum gets him into the capitalist firm, where he attempts to connect with the love of his life. He is helped by another employee, Bob (Timothy Spall), who plays the role of an older friend and a mentor of sorts. Unnecessarily enough, Eden has amnesia because of the accident.
The film suddenly moves at a fast pace where Adam risks everything to get his love back. The determination and mad love are evident when he steals from Transworld, almost burns up using inverse matter, somersaults into a river, and is nearly caught by the authorities of the Up Top in different scenes. The crazed efforts pay off when Eden starts to remember him.
Soon after, they meet at their old rendezvous point, where they used to eat pomegranates and the pink jam (made from the pollen of the pink bees). Once again, authorities descend upon them, but this time around, Eden is the one arrested while Adam survives, badly bruised in the struggle.
Upside Down: Movie Ending
Adam gives up all hope of reunification with his soulmate. As fate would have it, the romance lives on when Bob helps Eden go down to Adam’s world. The epic romantic reunion takes place at Café Dos Mundos, where Eden reveals that she is pregnant with twins. The couple falls into each other’s embrace, happily ever after. The ending of the movie Upside Down shows a new world where there is increased interaction among the people of the two worlds. It brings prosperity to the Down Below and improves the lives of future generations.
Upside Down: Discordance of the Plot
The movie’s visuals are breathtaking, but they are not enough to ignore the fact that the entire story is riddled with plot holes. A sci-fi film is certainly supposed to leave you with questions and a little bit of confusion, but Upside Down fails to make sense for the most part.
Bland Love Story
The premise promises a romance akin to Romeo and Juliet, but it fails to deliver it. The on-screen chemistry between Dunst and Sturgess is drab. There is no development of the relationship; it is just there, like a bare rock standing on barren ground. There is no mention of why they are attracted to each other or what they like about each other. The conversations between them are mumbled words and simpering smiles only. The way they risk their lives for each other carries an inkling of epic love, but our leads’ story has only wisps of it.
Adam acts like a lovesick teenager who has no regard for his life, and his antics end up putting Eden in danger multiple times. The ploys he cooks up are weak and hence always fall short. The only depth of Eden’s character you get to witness is a certain sadness and emptiness in her, resulting from her amnesia. In an interview, Dunst mentioned that it is because of missing a huge part of her life that Eden tends to live in the moment and wants to grasp any opportunity she can.
Sturgess and Dunst are brilliant actors, but a temporary shadow fell on their careers when they chose to star in this film. Adam nonsensically tries to get together with Eden while she vacantly smiles at him throughout the movie.
Weak Character Development
The schemas through which the characters operate and interact with the worlds are influenced by society, economic classes, access to resources, social standing, and social mobility. Instances of it are visible at the very beginning of the film only. In the span of nearly two hours, there was scarcely any character development.
Abandonment of Laws
The film takes around 5 minutes at the start to explain the laws of the universe. It seems they were only there to set the stage because they are not upheld in later scenes.
The inverse matter is supposed to burn after a while, but the characters are shown to consume food from the other world. The pink bees are involved in pollen collection in both worlds without any consequences. Adam and Eden are able to get intimate and procreate without combusting. In earlier clips, inverse matter burns through his shirt and shoes in a short time. Afterwards, before heading to Bob’s house to ask for help, he passes a significant amount in the Up Top without bursting into flames.
In one scene, while trespassing into the Up Top with the help of inverse matter, Adam’s urine floats up to the ceiling. Yet, his hair doesn’t go against the gravity of the Up Top. Moreover, his tie suddenly starts to float up in one chase scene even though it stays in place in a previous clip.
Upside Down Movie’s Saving Grace
The one thing that stands out with ferocity is the visuals. The film utilized CGI and live action to create a world of dizzying yet mesmerizing skies. The visuals can compete with those of big movies like Interstellar, Star Wars, etc. If you focus entirely on the skies, you will be caught in otherworldly magic that excites your soul and senses. The visuals are arresting enough that the film can be recommended to be watched for a short duration. They will pull you from reality and deposit you in a twinkling dream full of stars as you float untethered through the soft clouds.
The film undeniably has a unique premise. The theme of forbidden love is alluring. The commentary on the exploitation and oppression of the poor by the rich is to be lauded. With such promising plot points, it is jarringly disappointing to see the way the movie turned out. There is no doubt that the storyline held some promise but poor writing and directing resulted in a subpar film.
The details mentioned above left the viewers of Upside Down disgruntled. Sturgess’s constant and lengthy narration was monotonous and could have been avoided altogether. The beginning of the movie had a slow pace, but it sped up near the end and skipped over a lot of essential details. More importantly, the potential of a whole “characters changing the world” scenario was present but was not properly explored. It was never explained how the anti-gravity serum brought harmony and welfare.
Furthermore, some sub-plots left the audience befuddled:
- How did Bob negate the effects of the opposing gravity in the anti-gravity serum?
- Would the offsprings of Adam and Eden belong to one world or both worlds?
- How did the economic classes shift? What was the source of prosperity for the Down Below?
Upside Down: Where can I watch it?
We were not able to find this on Netflix in our region, so I guess your best bet is to rent it on Amazon, Youtube, or Google Play. Alternatively, there are a lot of free apps and websites for watching movies that you can use to watch it for free. There are many more places where you might be able to watch this for free with ads. Use this tool to find out the best places to watch.
Upside Down: Conclusion
The canvas of the kaleidoscopic sky full of dancing light of the stars, luminous planets, and stunning landscapes pull you into watching Upside Down but are not enough to ground you enough to get through the entire movie. The buffoonery of the film will leave you feeling a little “upside down” yourself.
What did you think of the plot and ending of the movie Upside Down? Do leave your comments below.
Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
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