TIFF Review: Across the Universe
by Alex Billington
September 11, 2007
This colorful and entertaining acid trip into the world of the Beatles and a heartfelt love story is both aurally charming and visually thrilling. Across the Universe is simply a musical told through over 30 Beatles songs and an excessive palate of actors and visuals spawned from the mind of Julie Taymor (Titus, Frida). When the young Jude (Jim Sturgess) decides to leave England and travel to America pre-Vietnam War to find his father, he quickly befriends Max (Joe Anderson) and falls in love with Max's sister Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood). On the top, Across the Universe is a love story, but further in it's an often-confusing mess of characters and scenes.
While nearly each and every song sung on screen was exhilarating, there were scenes and moments that felt unnecessarily added and pointlessly featured. Characters and story arcs felt added only to include a certain song. Unfortunately one of these involved the commanding presence of U2's Bono who sings a modern "I am the Walrus" and travels on a psychedelic bus to an even more psychedelic location in who-knows-where California. After that Eddie Izzard makes a cameo singing "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and the trio travel through more mind-blowing sets only to return to New York at the snap of a finger. This entire sequence, although fun, was unnecessary and could've been removed entirely in order to tighten up the real love story between Jude and Lucy.
Across the Universe suffers most from over-editing. I can only imagine that in a full 3-hour show (best fit for Broadway) it would've been much more satisfying, but too much was cut and edited to fit it down into a 133-minute package. While I can complain all day about the characters and the scenes, I still have to commend what was most importantly one of the best all-out musical love story films of the year (along with Hairspray). By all means go see it, most will at least love the soundtrack if not the jilted story.
Reader Feedback - 14 Comments
I have to admit, I hated this movie. I think it's also more accurate to compare this to Moulin Rouge, a superior film that didn't turn scenes into music videos and used editing in the best way possible. That said, I was impressed with how they handled the music, and most of the visuals and cast were good.
Andrew on Sep 12, 2007
I really liked it. Julie Taymor has her own vision, and a lot of them are meant simply for artistic beauty, sometimes at the plot's expense. I think it's for a certain audience becuase there is no doubt that this movie isn't for everyone. I am not so sure the "side-tracking" sequences were forced for any reason but to create more of a visual, artistic show. You are right, Alex, everyone should see it at LEAST to hear the music. I loved the covers.
Nate on Sep 13, 2007
I absolutely LOVED the movie. I was interested in the movie when the trailer came out. But I automatically thought it would be a funky, corny musical. You know the one where people just start singing randomly because they lost their shoe? But when I saw it I was impressed. Julie did an AMAZING job on this! The music was perfect for everything and did not seem corny or tacky. It was beautiful. The music is still ringing in my ears. (as above) You should just to hear the music.
Mercedes on Sep 27, 2007
This was incredible! As a life-long Beatle fan ( I was nine when they hit the shores here) I am usually very criticle of any covers of the Beatles songs, but this cast took great material and made it new! That's amazing when you know every note, word and chord. The photography was brilliant, the music was brilliant and the cast was brilliant! I wondered today how Joss Stone would have been as Janis, but then I decided that the cast was perfect as it was. I do think it got a little slow toward the middle, but not THAT slow as I am wanting to see it again! Great Job - super date movie for the Beatle Fans out there.
Gary on Oct 17, 2007
This movie just total amazed me. I've never seen anything quite has moving has this! The puppets were beutiful and the characters so real that you could reach out and fully taste thier pain. I mean, how could people not like this movie! It just goes to show how messed up America is! I mean, everyone loved highschool music which i think IS A TOTAL DISGRANCE AND SUCKED and people are giving bad reviews to the only movie that ACTUALY HAS MEANING AND MAKES A DIFFRENCE! It just rings out to me that people were revulting the VIETNAMN WAR so WHY DON'T WE GO OUT AND PROTEST THE STUPID IRAQ WAR!!!! My mom's cousin was killed in Iraq, he had a family. His wife had just givin birth and he had two other kids. He was coming home in 4WEEKS TO SEE HIS FAMILY and he died, he never even saw his babygirl's face. This movie is just telling us TO PROTEST, to save our dieing world. While everyone is being shit-heads and throwing our lives away and filling the world with crap, we could be listining to little warnings that you don't even see at first. That way we could change the world....instead of ending it. lOVE THE MOVIE, STrawBERRYField36
Lucy on Oct 20, 2007
This was the most amazing movie ever!! The Acting was wonderful everything was wonderful!!!
Jocelyn Kennedy on Mar 18, 2008
this movie was the most a mazing movie i have ever seen in my life. this may sound stupid but this movie changed my whole perspective on life. the acting the soundtrack the actors every thing was just so perfect. as soon as i saw this movie i went out and bought the soundtrack. i have no negative comment about this movie. its absolutely amazing.
alex on Mar 29, 2008
WOW!!!!! i just saw this movie a couple days ago when i was having a "movie partie", it was sooooo good i had to go out right after and i buy it! the music was nthing like the beatles randition, it was a bit younger sounding and each actor/ actres made it their own which i loved(it wasn't cheesy like other musicals). i am a huge fan ofthe beatles and idol john lennonso i loved and kew every song nd as singing along. nothig but good reviews at my house that night!!
emily hammer on Apr 2, 2008
i still dont get it why people hate this movie!! :@ its like one of the best movies ive ever seen in my entire life and like the people who said that they hate it is because they dont appreciate the beatles music (that was awesome the performance of them in this movie) and the cast and the plot itself was GREAT!!!!!! its awesome how the director of the movie actually put together the beatles songs and created a love story that actually made sense. BEST MOVIE EVER.
lucy in the sky with diamonds on Apr 8, 2008
I LOVED THIS MOVIE!! My family and i have watched it at least 20 times, and we never get sick of it! i think it is a wonderful movie and it all came to make sense. Im sorry, but whoever said that it didn't make sense?LIES LIES LIES!!! It completely made sense!!!!! Even if you watch it in the middle of the video! If you watch the director work everything out like in the extras cd of the package (BUY IT NOW: BEST EVER) you can see how talented the director is! She's such a good director, very skilled. You cannot hate this movie.
Danielle: I LOVE THE SONG STRAWBERRY FIELDS on Apr 28, 2008
come on guyz and gals Admit it the movie was Fab and God help me- but some songs were made more beautiful,than the beatles version. I am from India and i could understand what the director meant and i think if some american says they dont comprehend i think they need to look deeper into their selves- is it u dont or u r dont want to admit it - its fine man, everyone makes mistakes and Iraq is/was a big mistake( how ever much Saddam and Co deserved it). Leave other ppl to sort out their own mess, why do u have to play God!! Bush fooled u guys- with his propaganda. AND...... why dont u send ur soldiers sort out the mess in a dozen countries in Africa... simple answer....NO OIL THERE....GOD HELP US ALL MAN... WE ARE EQUALY RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR INACTION. ANYWAYS SORRY 4 THE PREACHIN- iTS A LOVELY MUSICAL ENJOY FOR ITSELF.....RELIVE THE BEATLES
matz on Jun 7, 2008
this movie was certainly a good trip, no pun intended. the acting was okay, evan rachel wood annoyed me and didn't seem like a believable charcter by any means, some of the songs were poorly done, and a lot of the plot was weak. BUT i loved this movie when it came out, and i saw it about 8 times in theatres. but once i left the theatre...the magic had already worn off. the movie is a bit of a poor takeoff of moulin rouge, i actually cared about what happened in that movie and felt the pain of the characters. this film was just one long beatles ridden acid trip, and not a serious achivement in cinema by any means, but a fun colorful ride all the same
michele on Aug 6, 2008
This movie moved me!! It stirred something that is usually only moved by images of orphaned babies in Somalia.... The version of Let It Be was amazing!!!!!!! I saw the special features on the DVD where Carol Woods auditions for this part; she put so much feeling into this song that just brought tears to my eyes!!! This is by far the best musical I have ever seen on film. It is not only entertaining, it connects with the viewer. I cannot believe that these soulless critics were not moved by these songs. Most of The Beatles' songs were so powerful on their own, but accompanied by a story and new refreshing voices, it just takes them to a whole other level. This is one trip you will never want to come down from!!!!
Carolina on Dec 1, 2008
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