Friday, February 8, 2008

Across the Universe Review

This was remarkably close to being a spectacular movie instead it just misses the mark, but there is still more than enough good to take out of it. The first good is the wonderful way Taymor utilizes Beatles songs, some well outside of the intended meanings, and applies them to the lives of our characters: I Want You (She's So Heavy) becomes a military draft and indoctrination theme, I Want to Hold Your Hand becomes the theme for a woman trying to embrace her homosexuality, Strawberry Fields Forever a meditation on loss in Vietnam. Jim Sturgess and Joe Anderson are both exceptional. Sturgess plays the lead, Jude, and brings great life to each moment he is onscreen. His singing, while not particularly powerful, is extremely emotional and he is a wonderful facial actor. Joe Anderson brings great life and a sense of fun to his role as well. Both performances have made me extremely excited to follow their future works. Evan Rachel Wood, and most of the supporting cast for that matter, come off less well. The majority of them, judging from their imdb pages, are not film actors by trade and it often shows. While some have wonderful voices, like T.V. Carpio who performs I Want to Hold Your Hand, they often falter in scenes without song. Bono (of U2) has an embarassingly bad cameo after a mediocre performance of I Am the Walrus. When this works though, it's quite amazing. The film's penultimate number All You Need is Love is one of the most effect romantic moments of 2007 this side of Once. I found the more 'realistic', well maybe I should just say surreal as opposed to the bunch fantastical absurdist numbers, to be far more effective generally. Some songs, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite sticks out in particular but is hardly alone, reek of Taymor's stage background and come across, to put this nicely, horrifically. I found her use of creepy puppets, not unlike those used in her stage production of The Lion King, to be highly offputting and a poor design decision. I only wish the whole film could have maintained the momentum and wonderment of the first half hour or so. The film works best when it acts as a surreal musical; the further it moved into the absurb the more it suffered. Worth seeing for any Beatles, musical or romance fan.

Overall Score: 7/10

No comments: