Movie Review: Across the Universe

I saw ads for this back in high school and had wanted to see it just because I was into the Beatles at the time. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I watched it for the first time.

People with names borrowed from Beatles tunes go through the sixties life.

I found this to be a cross of Moulin Rouge! and Pink Floyd The Wall. It’s a musical-style movie where contemporary songs are used (Moulin Rouge!) but all of the songs stem from one band (The Wall). I was interested to see how the songs would be interpreted. They were hit and miss.

The best visual sequences in my opinion are “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, “Helter Skelter”, and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”, all done by Prologue. Click here to see these sequences. It’s a wonderful use of compositing to create a new visual experience.

For some of the other songs, they come off as an anthology of music videos. “Come Together” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, while good interpretations of the song, could be watched outside the context of the movie and still stand on their own. Others, like “Something” and “Revolution”, are just there because the opportunity is present and it’s Beatles related. Personally, I’d like to see an interpretation of “Revolution 9” in the film.

Plotwise, it isn’t as strong. I had no idea who Jude was until thirteen minutes into the film. Prudence is more or less a footnote. I would have liked to see more of her story arc but instead she’s forgotten after “Dear Prudence”. We have a cast of characters but not much is done with them. Spectacle and story need to be balanced. Here’s it’s more spectacle.

If you want a Beatles film with spectacle and story, go for Yellow Submarine. If you want it in live-action, watch this. Just don’t expect much with character development.

6/10

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