Across The Universe

Posted by Brandon |

Since my soccer game was canceled tonight due to smoky conditions and the air quality and general heat in our apartment was no better, we decided to find somewhere to get some fresh air tonight. The only place we could think of was a movie theater so after perusing the brutally thin lineup of movies out right now, we finally decided on Across The Universe, the maligned Beatles musical. Maybe it was very low expectations, but I actually enjoyed myself and ended up kind of liking the film.

First of all, I'm normally not a fan of Beatles covers so I was worried about having to sit through two hours of other people doing their songs. I'm a huge Beatles fan, they are my favorite band, and I want to love and respect other people covering them, but it always amazes me just how poorly good musicians do when trying to cover Beatles songs. For me, it's always the phrasing and the rhythm that are off, nobody ever seems to be able to get it right.

But to my surprise, the best part of the movie was the music. I was very impressed with most of the songs. I could've done without some of the Joplinesque singing by Dana Fuchs, I hate Janis Joplin and I especially hate when blues singers try to do Beatles songs, but any of the songs by the leads Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Woods were good and I really loved "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by Martin Luther McCoy. Bono's cameo was half good. He suffered from some of the poor rhythm and phrasing that are pretty important in "I Am the Walrus".

The story wasn't nearly as heavy handed or clunky as I expected either. It's a little cloying and not particularly creative, we've all basically seen this story thread before in nearly every movie about the '60's, but again, the leads carry it along and make it worth the trip. Sturgess, Woods and Joe Anderson carry this movie from what could've been a stinker to something worth watching. I would have preferred that this be a much smaller film in scale and not go after so many issues and overarching themes. For me, being born in the late 70's, Beatles songs have a lot more personal meaning. I didn't live through the generation that they "define", so trying to link them together is a little bit of a stretch for me. I see how it works, but if they would've just focused more on the simplicity of the lead's story and cut the length down considerably, it would've been a much more satisfying movie for me. Kind of a more complex Once, but with Beatles tunes.

And of course, I can't fail to mention the visuals. It is a beautiful movie to watch. Some of it is disjointed and some of it is totally superfluous and present just to impress and one scene in particular, Eddie Izzard's "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite", is just awful. Eddie isn't too bad, but the scene itself is horrible. Poor Eddie deserved much better. But other than that one song, the visuals, for the most part, do a good job of matching and interpreting the music in a way that didn't piss me off, and that's all I was really asking for. Plus, at one point Salma Hayek makes an appearance as not one, not two, not three, not even four, but five hot nurses. There is nothing wrong with that.

Overall, Across The Universe is worth watching. It won't change your life and it shouldn't be up for any awards, but as a skeptical Beatles fan, I'm very happy that it didn't make me want run away screaming like I half expected it to do.


Anonymous said...

That's good to know! I haven't wanted to see it because I have some of the same reservations that you did. So, thanks for your review.