purkka’s review published on Letterboxd:
now what the hell is this
The negatives, I think, are pretty obvious: the special effects are often bad, pacing is seriously off, the script seems like it was cowritten by Google Translate, and every single frame of Upside Down contains enough nonsense for at least two or three CinemaSins videos. And perhaps most damningly, the deep sociopolitical conflict the beginning seems to set up goes nowhere since the scope of the story ends up being so small – the main plot essentially deals with... a megacorporation's attempts to obtain the formula to a cosmetic product. Most of the time, the mechanics of the setting and the exploitative relationship they create between the twin societies feel like an afterthought.
That being said... the movie is certainly capable of conjuring breathtaking images, nearly overcoming its technical shortcomings with sheer taste. Dunst and Sturgess try so hard they almost achieve something in spite of their characters having no humanity or believability to them. And despite the whole thing being anchored around a love story as generic as you can imagine, even incorporating an amnesia plotline that has nothing to do with the high concept premise, the delightfully wacky worldbuilding and the dry humor mostly land. In another world, Upside Down fully embraces its best part (the satiric take on working at an office where half of the workforce experiences reverse gravity and there's also gravity racism I guess) and is the sitcom it was always destined to be.
Anyway, this is honestly like a one-star movie, but I had way too much fun to care. Upside Down's hyper-sincerity and total absurdity combine into something deeply watchable, at least if you can tolerate the haphazard editing and every rule of screenwriting being broken at once. Watch it with your friends and holler at the screen whenever a character says a blatantly ungrammatical line or something defies both real and imaginary laws of physics.