Movie Review: Across the Universe

Thanks to the Berkeley ASUC, I got to go with a few friends to see Across the Universe for free. Most (all?) of them had already seen it.

Synopsis: Young British guy, Jude, goes to find his dad in America (he’s a WWII child). Simultaneously, an American guy named Daniel enlists to go fight in the Vietnam War, gets killed, and leaves his girlfriend, Lucy, heartbroken. She happens to be the sister of the first guy Jude meets at Princeton, Max, while looking for his dad. Max drops out and he and Jude move to New York City, renting from a singer named Sadie. Simultaneously, a cheerleader named Prudence tries to deal with her feelings for the head cheerleader and ends up hitchhiking to New York…for no apparent reason… Roughly simultaneously, a guitarist named Jojo arrives from Detroit after his brother was killed in the 12th Street Riot. (I only know that thanks to Wikipedia!) Not simultaneously, but predictably, Lucy comes down to join them “for the summer”.

Then after that it’s all a big combination of hippieness, psychedelics, revolutionism, the war, and of course a love story. A few, actually, but of course the Lucy/Jude pairing is the main one. No, I do not consider that a spoiler.

Oh, and did I mention that the entire concept of this movie is based on using Beatles songs for the entire soundtrack?

When I say that, I mean it. The story, at least to me, feels like it was badly assembled. The character of Prudence is almost completely pointless (but allowed them to stick in one of the better performed songs, “Dear Prudence”). The chunks of the story don’t exactly go together, sometimes jumping from event to event without enough explanation. In my opinion they used a few songs incorrectly, like Revolution. And sometimes the characters’ voices just didn’t fit the song so well. In summary, it feels like they started with the songs and then built the story around it (which as my friend Katie pointed out, they probably did).

But then again I don’t agree with the critics who say the movie mutilated the songs or whatever. For the most part the resung versions sound great, and a lot of times the characters have the right voices. (Especially Jude, played by Jim Sturgess.) Their arranged versions of “Let It Be” and “Because” are among two of the best (or at least most interesting) songs in the movie. And the dozens of Beatles references are fun, even though I didn’t get most of them.

So my overall opinion is something like “eh”. The story was pretty bad. Not all the songs worked. But some of the songs worked really well. And hey, it was fun anyway. And it was better than August Rush.

Seperately (am I going to have these notes on all my movie reviews?) this movie and this video have made me want to get back into making music videos again. Unfortunately, I have no good source material, even though I’ve got music to choose from (probably One Republic? *grin*). Ah, well, I should be spending my time on other things anyway.