Feb 19, 2010

[Movies] Across the Universe (2007)

Across the Universe (2007)Some movies seem a lot better when you see them featured in awards shows. Maybe it's just a matter of personal taste or something, but I feel that way about certain movies. As much as I respect the award-giving bodies out there, sometimes the results just totally don't make sense to me. Then again, I'm no member of the Academy or something.

Then again, that is the purpose of such awarding ceremonies - to highlight the best and brightest moments of the nominated films to get people curious enough to go out and see them or catch them on home video if they're no longer in cinemas. I've managed to see a number of good movies for precisely this reason and others still that were decent yet things that I just didn't get.

Perhaps my opinion of this movie was even more impacted by my expectations for it. Can you blame me?

Sturgess at the 2008 Toronto International Fil...Image via Wikipedia

Across the Universe was designed to be an interesting modern day musical featuring the songs of The Beatles set during the years of the Vietnam War in the 19060's. The tale is centered around Jude (Jim Sturgess), a young shipyard worker in Liverpool who decides to venture across the ocean to the United States in search of his American G.I. father whom he has never met nor does this man realize he has a son. In his adventures in the US he becomes friends with Maxwell (Joe Anderson), a student at Princeton and eventually grows infatuated with his sister, Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood). As their lives remain interconnected but not quite together, we're also brought along in a retelling of the stories of the period including the draft, protest actions and working as an illegal immigrant.

The whole movie is told in two ways - straight narrative moments where scenes from their lives are depicted and in fantastical flights of fancy set to the music of The Beatles. As much as I enjoyed many of the musical sequences that felt very surreal, they didn't quite mesh well with the narrative portions of the movie thus given it a somewhat schizophrenic feel in a not so good way. We've seen modern musicals use more popular songs and weave them effectively into the narrative, but I felt this movie felt short in this department.

The actors were decent but nothing spectacular. I felt at times some performances were a tad flat and it made it harder to connect with their characters. Add in the somewhat haphazard pacing of the story and you get yourself a movie with no clear direction and a plot that is not strong enough to pull the diverse elements together. I didn't even feel that strongly for Jude and Lucy - it just didn't click for me for some reason.

Don't get me wrong here - I do enjoy the music of The Beatles and I did like the performances as I mentioned before. It just felt like many disparate music videos that attempted to tell a story, like what Mamma Mia! accomplished with the music of ABBA. It just didn't mesh as well as I hoped.

I think I'm beginning to get repetitive. Sorry - it became a bit of a struggle to get past the last two-thirds of the film once my attention had fully wandered away past the opening act.

Across the Universe is a movie that had a LOT of potential but fell rather short of delivery. It gets 2.5 nailed-on strawberries out of 5.

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