Across the Universe movie review
PRO TIP: Do not listen to this man’s story.
The producers of Across the Universe made a bet that nostalgia would be enough to make a profit on their investment… and they lost. Once you watch the movie, it’s easy to see where they went wrong. (Spoiler alert: EVERYWHERE!)
Here’s the basic pitch for Across the Universe: It’s a musical entirely scored by Beatles songs that tells a story of young love against the backdrop of the counter-culture revolution of the 1960s in New York. Because when you think of The Beatles, you think of New York. This will cost $45 million dollars.
And somebody was like, “Well, you sold me! Here’s money!”
The biggest problem with Across the Universe is that the movie sucks potato balls. Specifically, the issue is most of the scenes neither develop the characters or advance the plot – they’re just music videos. To be fair, some of them are good (not great) music videos featuring interesting images, thought out choreography or a new take on a classic song, but most of them are either more of the same idea we’re already seen or what I’m going to call The Dartboard Effect™.
The Dartboard Effect™ is how I believe some of these scenes were put together. Director Julie Taymor and her team made a list of stuff they’d like to see on-screen and found a way to wedge it in there. It’s actually how they made the movie; they put all The Beatles song on a dartboard, grabbed 33 darts (this is too many darts, by the way) and that’s how the picked the tunes. Then, they used this technique to create the music videos – never is this more evident than in “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” This is the absolute low point of the movie.
I will try to explain how this came to be. They met Bono (seriously, Bono, as in Bono from U2) at a party, he sang “I am the Walrus” for some reason and they all got on his bus to go meet some dude who lives in the woods. When they got there, the man in question wouldn’t see them, so Bono gets made and leaves – presumably because they couldn’t think of any other way to get Bono out of the movie. Since Bono is going to California and the protagonists need to get back to NYC, Bono deserts them and takes his bus back to a place called vertigo (presumably). Then they hear music and go to Mr Kite’s circus, where we all learn that Eddie Izzard can’t sing (I guess), because he just kind of talks. It’s possible this was intentional – they thought it’d be a change of pace and more like a carnival barker, but the result is three minutes of your life you can never get back.
And if feels like three hours.
Speaking of things that are boring, there’s the movie’s take on “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” I kinda dig the musical interpretation, but this is boring to watch.
I do like the bit at 1:45 where she’s walking across the football field. It has a dreamlike quality – this is the sort of thing you can only do in a movie and it works. It’s too bad the first one hundred and five seconds put us to sleep, but cool idea.
Oh, you’re doing it again?
There, at the fifteen second mark, here’s another character walking toward the camera and through a bunch of extras seemingly unaffected.
And here we are again at 2:08 with someone walking toward the camera and through a bunch of extras that are seemingly unaffected. I’m also not sure why Joe Cocker is stalking this guy in various different costumes. Why couldn’t he be just one guy?
In a way, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is one of the better moments of the movie. “I want you” obviously translates well with the Uncle Sam poster and I liked the Statue of Liberty metaphor…
but I guess it’s also worth noting that they picked a song that only has six words. Also, this is a problem:
These dance numbers happen in “Come Together” as well, and they just don’t work in a movie. These… I dunno, ensembles of people all doing the same dance, this is for stage musicals. In a movie, it just looks ridiculous.
The people who made this movie rounded up a bunch of talented folks can sing and act but gave them almost nothing to do. The movie has almost no plot and things just keep popping up out of nowhere (“Jude is an artist” comes out of nowhere maybe thirty minutes in, and he’s the lead). It’s like a production designer spent their entire budget and they had no money left for a script, so they just slapped something together in a few hours and went with it. I could go on and on, point out all of the movie’s flaws, but at some point, I just have to let it go. Across the Universe can go suck a “Glass Onion.” I’m giving it a 1 out of 10 only because the singing and acting is OK, but this movie completely and utterly fails to entertain.
Why not use the plot from “Rocky Racoon?”