Tuesday, January 29, 2008

REVIEW: Across the Universe

Across the Universe

Year: 2007
Director: Julie Taymor
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

Across the Universe is a film that I wasn't interested in. I thought the movie looked too cartoon-ish and not real enough. Its the trailer that made me cave and go watch the movie. This is the only movie I remember watching the trailer for many times, possibly over 30 times. Simply because it was shown alot and advertised pretty good, but even with advertisement, this film didn't end up being the big box office smash some were hoping for. Grossing an estimated $28 million worldwide, the film didn't break any barriers, but it was pretty well received by many critics. So after watching the trailer like a billion times, I did myself a favor and went to go see it. Just coming back from watching the movie, I can confirm that its a good movie.

Plot Outline:
Jude (Jim Sturgess) is a hard working kid from Liverpool with a dream to be an artist. He goes to America to find his father, an American soldier who impregnated his mother while stationed in Europe during the second World War. He finds his father, who is not all what he was expecting, but makes an even more meaningful connection with Max (Joe Anderson), a rebellious student at the College Jude's father works at. The two become fast friends and Jude finds himself growing close to Max's sister Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), a girl in her last year of high school who has just lost her boyfriend in Vietnam. Max drops out of College and takes off for New york city with Jude right by him. There they make new friends and are joined by Lucy. Together they experience the changing world, but it is not very long before they are confronted by the harsh and violent reality of America in the late 1960's.

The story of Across the Universe is somewhat good. From the trailer, it makes it look like this is just another typical movie where boy meets girl and falls in love, but its not just limited to that. The story gets interesting from the start of the film with the setting centered around the 60's. The movie has many references to the Beatles as if that is the main focus of the film. The characters all look good with each of them having a good significant roles in the film. I did however find that character development was pretty slow and un-fulfilling. I thought the story overall was pretty good, but not anything special. Sure it was a common story that many films have done before, but the film has many parts of the plot where its not just about love, but rather the war in Vietnam.

The cast of the film is pretty good and engaging. Since many of the cast sings to the music that plays in the background, its quite hard to judge their acting skills, but we do have some moments where the cast is just plain acting with no music in the background. Jim Sturgess plays the main character Jude and hes pretty accurate for the part. I wouldn't say hes great in his role, but he definitely gets the job done. Evan Rachel Wood plays Lucy, the love interest that Jude meets. She is very pretty, but also serious. I think she did a great job in her role. We also get Joe Anderson playing Lucy's brother Max. Hes pretty good in his role, but just like Jim Sturgess, it ain't anything special or groundbreaking. Overall, I thought the cast was pretty good. Nothing special, but still enjoyable.

The visual effects for the film are simply astonishing. I thought the amount of film grain in the movie was just right. The movie has very colorful and creative images that go great with the music that's playing. There bright and bursting with vibrancy. We get many absurd visuals that might look crazy if you were just skipping through the film, but they make pretty good sense to be their. Detail is great with many close up shots of the cast that really brings them to life. As much as the visuals are great, their were some areas of the movie where I thought the colors seemed alittle dull at times, but even then, Across the Universe is a visual delight that you will need to see to experience it.

The film has many references to the Beatles so we get many of their music ranging from I Am the Walrus to I Want to Hold Your Hand. The music is just phenomenal with many of them sounding great with whats on the screen. I was told that the crew spent awhile trying to come up with a list of music from the Beatles that actually went with the movie and I'm happy to say that they did a fantastic job at it. Not everything is perfect though as we do get some minor problems that could get in the way of things. As great as the music sounds, some of the music was a bit altered. For example I Want to Hold Your Hand doesn't sound right and feels like its been enhanced to go with the film. I don't quite agree on this decision, but the music still sounds great. Since the entire film is mostly dialogue and music driven, the voices are pretty crisp and clear. The soundtrack is definitely the star of this film.

Across the Universe is a wonderful film that I enjoyed in some levels. I thought the story was pretty good, but wasn't original enough. The cast is pretty good with many of them doing an OK job in their roles. The visual effects for the film are fantastic and very colorful. The music is outstanding with many of the soundtrack the film uses sounding very vivid and clear. I cant say Across the Universe is for everybody simply because this isn't a film that everyone will enjoy. This ain't no action thriller type movie with alot of explosions in the background. Its a film that's about love and the war on Vietnam that occurred around the 60's. If your the type that loves musical movies then Across the Universe just might do it for you.

Grade: B

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