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Category:    Home > Reviews > Musical > Counterculture > Across The Universe (Blu-ray)

Across The Universe (Blu-ray)


Picture: A-     Sound: A-     Extras: C-     Film: D



Before Julie Taymor’s film of Across The Universe (2007) was released, there was a growing issue of what cut would arrive in theaters as the producers took her film away and cut it down.  I do not know which version made it to the big screen and I liked her previous films of Frida and Titus.  However, no matter which version this is, it is a mess and the attempt to create some kind of fantasy counterculture world out of remaking music form the peak of the real thing is an insult.  This approach has failed before and not just on the big screen.


There is someone named Jude and we are experiencing his story, though the story (by Taymor, with Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, who did the final script) fails to suspend disbelief, then the new versions of the songs kick in and when they are bad, it is all over.  In this cut, the film collapses after a goofy cover of With A Little Help From My Friends.  The way the film goes from Beatles song to song is sloppy when it should be seamless.  The portrayal of the counterculture movement is one of the cleaned up you will ever see and borders on revisionist history.  The end result is an unmemorable mess and not even Bono can save this wreck.  He might as well have been George Burns.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image does look very clean and clear, with Taymor’s usually exceptional use of color, though this can get carried away, especially with the digital effects.  However, Daniel Ezralow’s cinematography is eye catching and it looks better than anything else, except when it gets still visually.  The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix sounds really rich and has a fine soundfield throughout, even when the vocal performances don’t work.  Since this was Beatles material, the producers made sure they got their money’s worth out of licensing.


Extras include deleted scenes, five behind-the-scenes featurettes, audio commentary by Taymor & composer Elliot Goldenthal, extended music numbers (noooooooooo!!!) and a Don Nace art gallery section exclusive to the Blu-ray edition.


It is a curio and not a very good one.  It may not be as kitschy as Michael Schultz’s 1978 Sgt. Pepper’s film, but it is as much of a mess and less challenging as at least the ’78 film criticized the music industry.  If you must see it, go for the Blu-ray version.  Otherwise, skip it altogether.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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