‘Across the Universe’ Retro Review
The psychedelic music sequences are hit and miss. Some, such as the death and horror of the Vietnam War being represented by bleeding and imploding strawberries during ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, are somewhat evocative and well done. Many other, however, come across as simply idiotic. The directors pre-occupation with blending musical numbers with sporting events is quite perplexing. The grid-iron players leaping through the air in time with ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ is nearly as laughable as the bowling sequence.
The real nail in the coffin of this film is the performers. Nobody expects top quality acting in a musical, yet you should expect the performers to be able to sing. Whilst some a simply average (Evan Rachel Wood fares the best), other cannot be described as anything other than terrible. Jim Sturgess, in the lead as Jude, is particularly awful. This sounds mean, but the guy is a terrible singer and whilst most of the cast may at least pass an ‘Australian Idol’ audition, Sturgess, by comparison, puts them on a glittering pedestal with is insipid grating attempts as music. The opening scene, in which he performs and croaky, toneless and off-key rendition of ‘Girl’ (followed by Dana Fuch’s wailing and strained massacre of ‘Helter Skelter’) almost warranted turning the film off there and then. The real travesty comes later in the film when Sturgess breaks into a spirited performance of ‘Revolution’ that could have people attempting to claw their ear drums out of the side of their head at the shear horror of it. Completely awful.
What causes ‘Across the Universe’ the most damage is the simple fact that the film-makers seemed far to pleased with themselves. Showing little to no restraint, the feeling is that their genius will transcend simple conventions like ‘story’ and ‘talent’. They seem to have a particular blindness to the limitations of their actors, many of whom could’ve been spared if they’d been reigned in a bit, as evidenced by a DVD extra feature laughably titled ‘Stars of Tomorrow’.
Interesting as a montage of the era, but best avoided. Especially if you’re a fan of the Beatles and don’t feel like hearing their best hits being butchered worse than the last time I got hold of ‘Beatles: Rock Band’.
TWO outta TEN