Movie Review of Across the Universe
by Tina Wheeler
Whether or not you will enjoy this movie depends mainly on your tastes, and your stomach for musicals. Because that is really what this film is: A Beatles musical. I've maintained since I've seen it that the first half is very well suited for Broadway.
At first watching people who were not the Beatles singing Beatles songs was a little disconcerting. A teenage girl at a dance is not the first person I would expect. It begins to grow on you though, particularly when the energetic and passionate parallel (named Sadie) of Janis Joplin appears. The Jimi Hendrix character, Jo-Jo, was not nearly as impressive, however, and I was disappointed to find that he never really did any amazing guitar work, although I was definitely holding my breath for it during a rendition of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Eddie Izzard, Joe Cocker, Salma Hayek, and Bono all made recognizable cameos, which were fun to spot.
Another factor in whether you'll get anything out of this movie is how much you need a plot to drive you along, because it was certainly flimsy in this one. The characters weren't very well developed either, though they were certainly a lot of fun to watch. And thankfully our main man, Jude (played by Jim Sturgess) did a very good job and was a joy to watch..and not just because of his resemblance to Paul McCartney, which was so subtle that it took a few minutes to really hit me, but was afterward undeniable.
There were some aspects of this movie which were very powerful, especially when the Beatles mean the world to you, though there were flops and just plain confusing decisions on the writer's part. This is not to say that it was a simple film, however. Though I could probably explain the basic plot in a sentence (which I won't; you'll just have to see it), I wouldn't be able to explain the movie in its entirety in fifteen. It was beautifully shot and mostly well-sung, and for the most part, a very fun movie. Rating: 6/10.
Movie Review - Across the Universe
By Paul Heingarten
I'll try and avoid the sometimes silly cliches used throughout the movie "Across the Universe" and say I love this film yeah, yeah, yeah (Oops, sorry!) Using many songs from the Beatles library for its soundtrack, "Across the Universe" is part of a movement that has been taking place over the past several years to inject a new style into telling the traditional coming of age story. In a similar vein to films like "Moulin Rouge" and "A Knights Tale", "Across the Universe" includes pop music as not only the soundtrack, but also as another character in the story.
The movie takes place in the 1960s, as a group of teens and twentysomethings are making the transition from high school to college and beyond. Main character Jude is on the search for the father he never knew, leading him from his hometown of Liverpool to the campus of Princeton University in the US. At Princeton he meets up with Max, a fun loving, carefree guy who soon ditches college life to move to New York to live with Jude and a collection of fellow bohemians. Along the way, Jude meets and falls in love with Max's sister, Lucy. These characters experience the gamut from falling in love to heartbreak, to jealousy, and even a call to activism in a war protest. The events coincide with the Vietnam War, and are all experienced through songs of the Beatles. The visual effects are stunning and really accentuate the psychedelic aura of that time.
Look for a few notable guest appearances from the likes of Bono and Joe Cocker throughout the movie. I really enjoyed hearing Beatles music (sung quite well, I might add) used to play out a variety of life experiences. The term "movie musical" gets thrown around for movies like this, and it really fits in this case.
While I know Paul McCartney was rightfully upset when Beatles songs started turning up in Nike commercials and such, I think that himself, along with Ringo and the other surviving Beatles family members, should be pleased at the clever way Beatles music was brought in for "Across the Universe".
I recommend you see this movie in a theater while you can - the visual effects really are best seen on a big screen. Even so, watch this movie at some point, even if it is at home.
To read more articles about music, check out http://www.musicandband.com
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"Across the Universe" - A Visually Stunning Drug Overdose
By Rachael Rizzo
Sitting down to watch "Across the Universe" is like entering an internal trip of the mind. Visually stunning at the most, it does not have much to offer for a plot line. While the plot moves at a steady pace we are lost on all emotional issues unless furthered by the songs in themselves. While I agree that a good musical should focus the emotions within the songs, I argue that we should not completely rely on the songs to carry the movie. "Across the Universe" makes a movie around Beatle's songs and does nothing to create the songs into the movie itself.
"Across the Universe" was cast with unknowns (besides the some what know Evan Rachel Wood), which actually brings a refreshing outlook to the film. Believe me when I say that the lack of emotion in the film is not due to the actors. Each person is cast to their role immaculately. Evan Rachel Wood as "Lucy" did a steady job portraying the frustration within her own self not being able to do more for her brother Max in Vietnam and her boyfriend who died in the war. One of the best performances is by Jim Sturgess (soon to be seen in the movie "21") in the role of "Jude." He has a delightful charm and sexiness to bring you into the motions of a romantic lead. Along with that comes his natural and honest singing voice. It is almost an extension of his own self (as opposed to an actor in old musicals whose voice is more a mock up of the person's emotions). The actress who deserves the most kudos is Dana Fuchs as "Sadie." She is perfect for the part of a rising rock musician in the middle of the sixties. While not imitating Janis Joplin she has a great ability to channel the energy of Janis' rock and roll vibe through her role. It is obvious that her natural strength as a person helped to further her performance.
Directed by Julie Taymor, "Across the Universe" is visually stunning. Maybe seen apart as a group of music videos, this movie would probably make more sense. The problem in the direction is that we never stay with one character enough to form an emotional connection with any of them. Also, the musical sequences can seem confusing at parts. While movies like "Chicago" and "Moulin Rouge" use the musical sequences to make sense of the emotions and plot line, "Across the Universe's" sequences confuse us even more. While I admit that this movie takes place in the sixties and, therefore; would display excruciating amounts of confusion involved, it was way too much. That aside, the visual effects were absolutely stunning. The "Strawberry Fields" sequence will absolutely blow your mind. It takes a lot of effort to make a duet with two people across the world make sense. The ability to make you feel for the characters in this sequence is mostly due to the visual effects and their ability to show Lucy's inner turmoil.
As far as themes go, we are mostly talking about the power of love and the ability to let it change you. Although hard to search for themes in this weak movie, I can see the story of growing up within the framework of it. It is mostly about a bunch of kids, right when they are turning into mature adults, coming from several different places in their missions to find themselves and to value what is talented inside of them. It all turns out as you wish it, and that is pretty much okay with me......although the emotional payoff is not that great. It is like an old movie where it ends abruptly and you really don't get to see how happy everyone is following the event.
I would definitely watch "Across the Universe" at least once. While I have mentioned again and again how weak the movie is, at least, enjoy the musical sequences. Watch the songs separately if you can. I have to admit that it is amazing (and worth a look at) to see the Beatles' music re-worked into a modern musical. If you look at each song as a music video you can be absolutely taken away by the mental imagery entering into your mind......if you try to see it as a movie get ready to be confused. If you don't like it you have my permission to chuck it out the window and "across the universe." I should have been a comedian.
About the Author:
Rachael Rizzo has been acting since she was nine years old. She uses her experience to write about what the things she loves mean to her (mostly movies and baking). She is twenty-three years old and resides in beautiful Oregon.
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