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Across the Universe (SE)
DVD disk
Feb 12, 2008 By: Quigles
Across the Universe (SE) order
Director:
Julie Taymor

Actors:
Jim Sturgess
Evan Rachel Wood
Joe Anderson

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Set during the '60s, this musical takes classic Beatles songs and uses them to tell a tale of love, peace, and freedom.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Attempting to craft a musical through recreations of classic Beatles songs is a damn cool idea for a movie. Unfortunately, cool ideas can only take a film so far, and when you have over 30 songs—which is about ten more than most musicals—that were never originally intended for the particular story at hand, it shouldn't be surprising when the pieces don't quite fit together.

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE's script doesn't feel crafted to tell a story so much as randomly slapped together in order to fit around the Beatles songs in question. New characters and plot points are introduced at random, usually with no feasible reason outside of the filmmakers needing an excuse for a specific Beatles cover (can somebody please explain the point of Prudence's character?). From a storytelling perspective, this makes the film almost unbearable. It's easy to dismiss the problems early on, but this is a 2-hour film, and eventually the movie's disorganized style takes its toll on the viewers' interest.

But let's be honest; nobody is seeing ACROSS THE UNIVERSE for the plot. What counts more than anything is the music and imagery, and in that regard, the movie succeeds beautifully. Every time a new musical number is introduced, there's a grace and energy to the proceedings that make it almost worth forgiving the rest of the film's problems. Only rarely does a song falter, such as with the astonishingly pointless "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite," which is neither well sung nor aesthetically pleasing.

Other covers do a much better job of reinventing their original counterparts, offering a much-welcome modern update with actors that actually know how to sing (although it's clear that Jim Sturgess's voice was aided to some degree with auto-tuning). I might even go as far as to say that I prefer some of the songs featured here over the Beatles versions, with personal favorites including "All My Loving", "Come Together", "Happiness Is A Warm Gun", and "I Want To Hold Your Hand". Even if you don't feel like sitting through ACROSS THE UNIVERSE's borderline appalling storytelling, you should at least give the soundtrack a listen.
THE EXTRAS
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE comes in a 2-Disc Deluxe Edition certain to keep fans satisfied.

DISC 1

Audio Commentary (with Julie Taymor and music producer/composer Elliot Goldenthal): A consistently active and informative track, Taymor does most of the talking and keeps things interesting.

Deleted Scene (1:00): Martin Luther sings "And I Love Her".

Alternate Takes (4:00): Eddie Izzard offers two alternate takes for his partially improvised performance of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite".

Also included is a Photo Gallery and a ton of film Previews.

DISC 2

Creating the Universe (30:00): Better than your average making of featurette, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and plenty of interviews.

Stars of Tomorrow (27:00): Deals with the unknown actors and how they worked on their characters.

All About the Music (15:00): Pretty self explanatory, right?

Moving Across the Universe (9:00): All about the dancing/choreography, complete with behind-the-scenes footage of rehearsals.

FX on the Universe (7:00): A little bit about the special effects and visual aspects of the film.

Extended Musical Numbers (35:00): Here we have the best thing this set has to offer: eight extended musical sequences.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Visually and aurally, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE makes for a beautiful (albeit occasionally tiresome) experience. If you can ignore the clunky storytelling and overabundance of characters, and just appreciate it for what it is - a collection of fantastic Beatles covers music videos - it's an admittedly enjoyable ride.
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