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An ACROSS THE UNIVERSE review comes in!!!!

Published at: March 8, 2007, 4:15 a.m. CST by headgeek

Harry here - ever since the trailer for this hit, I've been DYING to see the film. I'm a fan of Julie Taymor's work - and have watched the trailer for this - dozens of times. I even went frame by frame through it once. I love the musical genre - and have missed the Beatles tunes - as they haven't been on screen nearly as much as I would have enjoyed. This is one of my top anticipated films of 07. Aces definitely helped raise my interest even more. Here he is...

AcesOfSamSpade here... Had a chance to see a screening of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE last night at the Grove in LA. It was fantastic. Basically, ATU is like watching Baz Luhrmann on downers...or maybe Gondry on whatever Baz Luhrmann’s on. From blue screens to puppets, this film is an absolute trip. To sum it up, it’s a Beatles musical dissecting different sects of people in the 60’s. As far as musicals go, it’s similar to Pink Floyd’s THE WALL, in that it’s a series of songs directly translated to screen with broad stroke of surrealist eye-candy through- out. Directed by Julie Taymor (FRIDA...which I thought was mediocre) and shot by Bruno Delbonnel (AMELIE, A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT), ATU is ultimately a love story with political overtones. Set in various locations, the film uses different Beatles songs, both literally and abstractly, to insert certain traits and motivations into the characters. For example, when we hear “getting high with a little help from my friends” we see a group of friends puffing a joint, with a joint that seems to make harmonica sounds with every puff). It is this sort of direct translation with a hint of surrealism that helps bring the characters to life. With an innumerable amount of songs (I think it’s over 25 Beatles songs, or 35? I don’t know) there is little room left for dialogue. However, in between each song, from 2-5 minutes, there is some sugary exposition to further pump life into the characters and purpose into the story. This was at first unsettling, for as much as I like Beatles songs, I wanted to actually CARE about these people for the next two hours. However, it didn’t take long for this delicious world to reel me in. I am usually not a fan of modern musicals. I think Luhrmann handles them great, however, I hated CHICAGO, and generally care about them even less than the usual Hollywood schlock. However, I found the trailer to ATU tantalizing and knew that this film would most defiantly be a hit or miss. It’s a hit. EVAN RACHEL WOOD is gorgeous as LUCY (just one of many characters named after Beatle’s lyrics) the Lolita-esque little sister of MAX, an aimless college student who eventually gets sucked into the war. Jim Sturgess is FANTASTIC as JUDE, the protagonist of sorts. It’s hard describing the plot, as there really isn’t much of one, rather themes (LOVE, PEACE, HYPOCRISY, etc) that can be extracted by listening to any album of the Beatles. What’s so great about this film is the obvious care Taymor had for the material. I can just imagine her, smoking a joint on a beanbag listening to the Beatles, overcome with these themes that she felt necessary to share (or at least that’s how the film looks...a drug-induced exploration of the Beatles songs). I saw a sneak peak of THE REAPING last weak...just another heartless shot-for-the-money, with a script dryer than the talent attached (ok...Swank was great in Million Dollar Baby...that’s it). From the opening shot of ATU, you can feel how much Taymor wants to make this film...and it make right. However, this doesn't mean everything worked. This was an early screening, so I’m not sure if anything will be changed. Some of the effects were slightly unpolished (or so it seemed), there was no end credits, and some of the film did drag. At the end of the film a man sitting next to me asked “Didn’t you think it dragged a little? Maybe during some points?” I told him “Yeah, it slowed down at points, but I didn’t care, because I was enjoying it so much.” The film isn’t perfect, but is so endearing that I am inclined to overlook the nitpicking, and simply bask in the fun. The film has absolute cult potential, if not for the built-in Beatles fan-base but for the charming product that will send chills to anyone willing to be sucked into this colorful adventure.

Readers Talkback

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  • March 8, 2007, 4:21 a.m. CST

    Beatles.. who are they anyway?

    by Aloy

    Guess I'll have to see this to understand all the excitement on Harry's part

  • March 8, 2007, 4:32 a.m. CST

    Yeah...

    by Catnip_Thieves

    This sounds pretty boring. Any got any new Rush Hour 3 pictures?

  • March 8, 2007, 4:38 a.m. CST

    the Beatles sucked

    by Rupee88

    Just kidding...I'm sure some genius will say that though. They were amazing and wrote so many great melodies and songs. They still hold up today. Fuck Mark David Chapman...I hope he still gets ass raped daily.

  • March 8, 2007, 5:01 a.m. CST

    Never heard of this..

    by Kristian66

    ..but cannot wait. The question is, is 30 too old to take acid again? Grass should do the trick.

  • March 8, 2007, 5:09 a.m. CST

    Looks an awful lot like...

    by -Halfscan-

    ... a knockoff of "Hair" set to the music of the Beatles... at least that's my impression based on the trailer.

  • March 8, 2007, 5:29 a.m. CST

    By the way....

    by pepperman

    John Williams track on AOTC was called "Love across the stars" and "Across the Universe" was recorded by the Beatles in 1969, so I not sure who could sue who. "...they will do their job well..."

  • March 8, 2007, 5:40 a.m. CST

    When's Spider-Man The Musical coming out?

    by Calico Pete

    Taymor is supposed to be putting it together. (She did the Lion King on Broadway too.)

  • March 8, 2007, 5:50 a.m. CST

    When's the musical of the...

    by PoweredUpPacman

    ...sequel of the remake of The Hills have Eyes using only Queen songs, come out? I hear it's sheer genius.

  • March 8, 2007, 6:22 a.m. CST

    Cap Dead????

    by Freefinger

    WTF!?!?!?!!? Joe Simon and Jack Kirby are flipping out of their caskets!!<p>How can they just kill off Cap with a damn Sniper!!<p>If they kill him off, do it appropriatly, last book of the War thing they have right now, he dies to protect something, but in style, with some meaning.. Not a Freaking recreation of a Marky Mark movie (Which ressembles a lot, no, is copied right off of the one Keenen Ivory Wayans did called "Most Wanted" in 1997)!<p>This shows you how uncreative Marvel has become. Everybody know Spidey, they changed the costume, big thing going on about Superhero vs. Superhero.. Blah... I'm happy I stopped collecting these back in the 90's... They've become the worst storytellers ever since Quesada and the Arad took over... <p>Killed Cap.. bastards!<p>Extract from the CNN site - Quesada said he wanted to readers find their own meaning in Cap's end. "There is a lot to be read in there. But I'm not one who is going to tell people, this is what you should read into it, because I could look into it and read several different types of messages," he told CNN. - End quote<P>Which translate into: "I have no clue why we did it.. We just wanted to kill someone off, and sell more books like DC did when they killed Superman. Expect our hero doesn't die to save the world, oh no! None of that crap! We kill him off by a sniper. We have no imagination what can I tell you! Hell after the Spidey movie we decided to give him organic WebShooters in the comics too, because well.. euh... because .. euh... Well, let's just say we like to fuck around with our most precious characters that stood for something for so many years because the movie made millions, so there must be something to it right??" - End of translation.<P> Marvel's dead... No soul into that company anymore. As tacky as Stan Lee is when he talks about comic book heroes, at least he stood by the characters and would not change things around just to sell a book. He got the writers and artists to push themselves to get a good storyline out. not go for the easy way out. "Kill someone! Easy sell!". Oh where are you Stan when we need you!<P>Well, now that Cap is dead, I just hope they don't ressucitate him in two months to sell comics again. They made a decision, hope they live with it and keep Rodgers dead, bringing him back to life would be demeaning to the character, just like trying to bring back Colossus to life after he gave his for the Mutants.. Oh wait.. they did that already didn't they.. Lack of imagination is what keeps this industry alive I guess...<P> The hell with Marvel!

  • March 8, 2007, 6:26 a.m. CST

    MOUAHAHAHAH!!!

    by Freefinger

    Wrong post!

  • March 8, 2007, 6:34 a.m. CST

    "Frida, which I thought was mediocre"

    by BadMrWonka

    and just like that, you're done...<p>next you'll tell me that Titus was too gray...<p>thanks for playing,we have some wonderful parting gifts for you...doesn't matter if you gave it a moderate pass, you obviously don't get Taymor's stuff...

  • March 8, 2007, 6:57 a.m. CST

    Nothing's gonna change my world

    by Kentucky Colonel

    Baya caroom oh day, yeah. Koo Koo Ka Joob!

  • March 8, 2007, 7:05 a.m. CST

    Captain Americas corpse hates the beatles

    by iwontwin

    Him and anna nicole smith are eating donuts in heaven.

  • March 8, 2007, 7:57 a.m. CST

    I was there on one of the shooting days in NYC

    by WolfmanNards

    The scene was a small protest/parade. Lot's of "end the war" posters and people dressed in 60's gear. One production assistant told me "you're gonna have to move out of the way, you'll be in this shot". So I went over to the crew area, took a donut, and went on my way.

  • March 8, 2007, 8:24 a.m. CST

    BREAKING NEWS: THE SIXTIES ARE OVER

    by Pound Sand

    Stupid hippies: When the movie comes out on DVD, maybe Peter Max and Ray Manzarek can do the commentary (I'll bet they are available), and talk about how "we were really pushing the boundaries and changing the world back then." YAWN !

  • March 8, 2007, 9:37 a.m. CST

    The Beatles are timeless........

    by Jimmy Jazz

    This movie, however, with it's seemingly endless hippie dippy cliches (based on the trailerI saw), is not. This just looks silly. Oh and Freefinger? That "Marky Mark movie" is actually based on Stephen Hunter's 1993 novel, Point Of Impact. So STFU.

  • March 8, 2007, 9:51 a.m. CST

    The greatest band in history

    by Daytripper07

    anyone who doesn't like The Beatles is a fucking douche bag.

  • March 8, 2007, 9:54 a.m. CST

    Friggin' hippies

    by BizarroJerry

    It's over. It's not the 60s. It been decades since you ended war, poverty, racism, oppression, etc through drug use, promiscuous sex, tie-dyed shirts and rock & roll. Now, go steal some of your kids' (or grandkids') weed, pass it around, put in an oldies CD and shut up.

  • March 8, 2007, 9:59 a.m. CST

    Yes, I actually like the Beatles, too

    by BizarroJerry

    But before you point out the peace and love and anti-establishment message of their music, just remember that Paul McCartney's now an incredibly rich businessman who abused his one-legged wife. (I sure seem to be in a "down with everything" mood today, huh?)

  • March 8, 2007, 10:11 a.m. CST

    Will Aerosmith do battle with Peter Frampton again?

    by Nice Marmot

    I can't watch this crap. Don't mess with the Beatles. If you think they are overrated you are as wrong as wrong can be.

  • March 8, 2007, 10:48 a.m. CST

    Kentucky Colonel

    by FrixFrixFrix

    you're retarded.

  • March 8, 2007, 11:32 a.m. CST

    Was also there...

    by Ultimo The Duck

    Loved it, top to bottom, save for about 20 seconds at the beginning. This is a stellar film.

  • March 8, 2007, 11:55 a.m. CST

    Dam, I agree with Rupee88 about something!?!

    by morGoth

    Heh, when I first saw the title of your post I though "Geez, there goes that asshole again! Is there ANYTHING he/she likes?" So, yeah, the Beatles were and still are great. Looking forward to this if for no other reason than nostalgia. <p> Pound Sand: You're just jealous because we (yeah, I grew up in the fifties/sixties...so what?) had a lot more fun than, obviously, your cheerless ass ever did. Here's a big hippie middle finger for ya...peace.

  • March 8, 2007, 11:59 a.m. CST

    Frix3

    by Kentucky Colonel

    I tend to agree with you, but in this instance I have to ask why? Natas, eh si dog?

  • March 8, 2007, noon CST

    Yeah, and Pete Townsend...

    by morGoth

    ...doesn't sing "Hope I die before I get old." anymore Bizarro Jerry. Um, people change over the decades and, besides, I'm quite sure you know every intimate detail of Paul's relationship with his ex. Now, where did I put my violin shaped Hofner bass?

  • March 8, 2007, noon CST

    I am the Walrus

    by Kentucky Colonel

    Don't you think the Joker laughs at YOU?

  • March 8, 2007, noon CST

    sounds

    by Bloo

    intriguing. Taymor is a real interesting director. I dig her visual style. I'll see it<p>and with that I add nothing really to this post

  • March 8, 2007, 12:07 p.m. CST

    Re: Kentucky Colonel

    by FrixFrixFrix

    just thought your "drunk at a bar, singing along to Billy Joel at the top of your voice" lyrical misinterpretation was funny Jai guru deva om

  • March 8, 2007, 12:28 p.m. CST

    PLANT!!

    by The Real MiraJeff

    I've always wanted to do that Silverman. Everyone check out fifthstreetfilms.com!

  • March 8, 2007, 12:51 p.m. CST

    Yes, morGoth...

    by BizarroJerry

    I'm very good friends with them both. Aw, I just like getting people riled by letting out my inner Archie Bunker. Though I sometimes get annoyed by the people who live in the past, and the kind of people I was referring to are the worst offenders. And there's a superiority they think they have for being part of that movement. And they never factor in the guys who were involved just to get laid.

  • March 8, 2007, 12:57 p.m. CST

    I'm Hoping....

    by closeencounter

    That this does NOT turn out like that Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band musical. I'm a product of the sixties, and I now have two young kids that have been introduced to The Beatles. Guess what?? They LOVE them! Genius is recognized at any age you're at. It's Getting Better All The Time!!!

  • March 8, 2007, 2:40 p.m. CST

    BadMrWonka speaks the truth

    by Howling_Fantods

    I didn't even make it as far as the Frida statement. I checked out after "ATU is like watching Baz Luhrmann..." Christ, I can barely read that without getting The Fits.

  • March 8, 2007, 3:32 p.m. CST

    Skipped the review

    by the beef

    Did it say anything about the Brother's Quay doing any stop motion animation in it? Taymor used them to make the hospital scene in FRIDA, so I was just curious if they had any hand in this, because it sounds right up their alley.

  • March 8, 2007, 3:35 p.m. CST

    I was in this.

    by Bungion Boy

    I was in the protest parade on 5th Avenue. I'm really curious about this. I think Taymor is capable of a lot but sometimes goes a little overboard. The dialogue in the trailer kind of bugged me, but like the reviewer says, maybe it's a very small part of a cool, trippy film. Here's hoping.

  • March 8, 2007, 5:01 p.m. CST

    The "get laid" factor...

    by morGoth

    ...was indeed paramount, I'd say. "You here for the demonstration, man?" Pfffhhtt....(holds nose and blows out noxious stream of hemp smog). "Uh-uh, uh yeah...I'm here to demonstrate my manhood to some foxy trippy-hippy chicks, man." Obligatory reply: "Far out!" All you need(ed) i(wa)s love...and some good penicillin. <p> I hope you'll agree that just about every generation has a superior attitude. I've found that's more of an individual thing than an attribute to an entire generation. Also, why steal what you can easily grow? And, not every long-hair was a "hippie." In fact, I recall true hippies as being rather scarce. Lotsa teeny-boppers though. Oh man, low cut bell-bottomed hip hugger jeans...now THAT'S what I remember most. Groovy baby!

  • March 8, 2007, 5:09 p.m. CST

    RE: closeencounter

    by morGoth

    I had the same experience with my (now adult) kids. They adore the Beatles to this day and are perhaps even bigger fans than myself. We make it a point to watch 'A Hard Day's Night' at least once a year. And, no, I've never made a Sheila blush with my cool appraising stare. <p>I'm with you though...hope this isn't like the Sgt. Pepper's "video."

  • March 8, 2007, 5:54 p.m. CST

    Bizarro - court proceedings in England contradict you

    by Trader Groucho 2

    Um, Macca's lawyers have definitely taken his ex down a peg.

  • March 8, 2007, 6:41 p.m. CST

    OK, Groucho...

    by BizarroJerry

    I didn't really follow much of the news on that stuff. I was just making a smartass, uninformed comment. And, yes, I'd say that there are some REAL hardcore hippies, who keep it up to this day. I dunno, it really just amuses me to call people "hippies". I like calling people "commies", too. :)

  • March 8, 2007, 7:38 p.m. CST

    I just got home...

    by Octaveaeon

    and I'm listening to The Wall on my mp3 player...

  • March 8, 2007, 8:22 p.m. CST

    The 60s may be overrated, but the Beatles aren't...

    by Flim Springfield

    The 60s get constant praise because of baby boomer nostalgia. Much of that praise is undeserved, but not in the case of the Beatles. Their music is as good today as its ever been.

  • March 8, 2007, 10:07 p.m. CST

    Taymor

    by Cobbio

    I'll agree Taymor has a distinct and creative visual style, which many people dig. That said, I haven't enjoyed any of her films. Not even remotely. For me, her style overwhelms all substance. "Frida" wasn't bad, I suppose, but after the film ended, I was left with no emotional interest in Frida Kahlo whatsoever. Which sucks, because I think in the hands of a better director, Frida could've been a great film.<p> Taymor is talented visually, I'll give her that. But I'm tired of slick visuals over substance. How about a little bit of both, Julie?<p> Also, I dig the Beatles, but this project just sounds tired and obvious. A musical biopic about a band other than the Beatles would've been nice. How about someone more recent than 30 fucking years ago? How about an eighties or nineties band? Oh, that's right -- gotta go for the lowest common denominator. I agree the Beatles's music holds up well over time, but can we fucking move on? The sixties are dead and buried. Let the decade die in peace.

  • March 9, 2007, 12:14 a.m. CST

    An eighties or nineties band? Hmmmm...

    by closeencounter

    If you can name one band from those decades that has had as much influence as The Beatles, or as many hits as The Beatles, or as good as The Beatles, then, you might have a subject to make a movie about. Otherwise, it ain't gonna happen. Not enough people would be interested, duh. I'm not saying ATU is going to be a blockbuster, but The Beatles can bring in people from all age brackets.

  • March 9, 2007, 1:27 a.m. CST

    I think

    by underscore_only

    The Most Underrated Band: The Band . . . . Most Overrated Band: The Rolling Stones . . . Band That Gets a Shitload of Credit and Fucking Deserves It: THE BEATLES.

  • March 9, 2007, 10:45 a.m. CST

    The Stones...

    by FrixFrixFrix

    are only overrated post Exile on Main St. From '68-'72, they were pure gold. After that it's just been one long reunion tour.

  • March 9, 2007, 2:50 p.m. CST

    The British owned the 60's!!!

    by football

    The Who: brilliant = The Beatles: fab = The Stones: cool = Led Zep: rock Gods = The Kinks: fucking hip = Pink Floyd: drug kings = The Small Faces: the Modfather = Cream: better than the fucking Band = Fleetwood Mac: good before the Yanks were allowed in = Jeff Beck: nuff said = The Yardbirds:great music = Nirvana: Not to be confused with the Seattle band of the same name, their first album, The Story of Simon Psychopath, could claim to be one of rock music's first concept albums...

  • March 24, 2007, 2:12 a.m. CST

    Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Movie (1978)

    by Donald McKinney

    Is it me, or does this sound suspiciously similar to the only other attempt at taking Beatles songs, and using them to make a story?? Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978), with Peter Frampton and The Bee Gees "acting" as Americans, and killing The Beatles. Also with the weirdest supporting cast EVER, including Steve Martin, Frankie Howerd, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Donald Pleasence and George Burns!! :| Overall, I have mixed feelings about this one, but Sgt. Pepper's is a guilty pleasure of mine!! ;)

  • Sept. 12, 2007, 9:27 a.m. CST

    Meh...

    by gerrit4

    I'm surprised there wasn't more bad press on this. I mean, they completely butchered the Beatles catalogue. Not to mention the poor acting and script...

  • Sept. 19, 2007, 8:44 a.m. CST

    I'VE SEEN IT IN NY!!!

    by pedbaron

    I've seen the movie and it's one of the most interesting movie experiences I've ever had on the big screen.06/07 has been a really good year for different sort of movies:the fountain,children of men,grindhouse,and now across the universe--though I suspect that ATU will be the most commercially succesful of the bunch because it was so crowded the movie line because of this movie that I HAD to buy the 10 pm ticket at 10 in the morning.