DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Across the Universe - DVD Review

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</script></div>{/googleAds}Musicals have gained themselves something of a revival in the last few years, and the usual sporadic release of them seems to be increasing year by year. They are also a medium that divides an audience more rapidly than most, as not all of us are fans of stories where people suddenly burst into song. But despite this genre defining element, when push comes to shove a musical is a story being told, (in this case with song as well as dialogue and action) and like any film, it can be absorbed like any other as one you like or one you don't.

Delayed due to a disagreement with studio and director, Across the Universe is Julie Taymor's third cinematic outing: a story of true love heals all, in the backdrop of the 60's, set to a hefty back catalogue of The Beatles hits. It's the story where any film rises and falls, and unfortunately this story, remiss of some very impressive qualities, falls flat at it's heart. It's unoriginal to the point of cliché; it's at once simplistic in context and convoluted in execution, making it play like a two minute joke that takes a year to hear.

The 60's is such a well-mined period, cinematically speaking, so even those who didn't live in those times are so aware of it that a very original story is needed to keep ahead of them. This film dawdles in it's unique visual milieu, and reliance on the songs it wants to serve, so much so that almost from the first moment the audience is always two steps ahead, making it drag noticeably and, in fairly short order, gratingly. This alone robs the film of its intention to deliver some form of poignancy throughout the tale and setting to a modern audience.

Where the film stands as a very impressive piece of work is the same as all of Taymor's work: visually. She is an outstanding visualist, and can make a brick wall and a metal trash can look luscious and beautiful. She is highly imaginative; her slides into surreal imagery as she did in Frida are unprecedented in their detail and capability to surprise.

It's next virtue lies with a truly and profoundly gifted cast, whose performances and singing ability could not be seen as anything less than the best homage to The Beatles and their work that could be mustered.

The cinematography is breathtaking, and it's doubtful, with 32 of The Beatles songs crammed in, that there isn't at least one song everybody won't be tickled to hear; the cameos are fun, but also lends itself to the sad result.

And the sad result - maddening even - is when all these wonderful elements are combined its total equals a weak plot, heavily disjointed and overwhelmed by them. At its best this film's music clip aesthetic has a good shot at connecting with a modern audience for the clichéd love story, but at its worst it fails completely in its intention of connecting them to the ‘60's and making it relevant to today.

Regardless, this film - as Titus and Frida before it is a heads up to keep one eye on Julie Taymor. Her masterpiece is somewhere ahead of her, and when all the elements finally bend to her considerable will, what a masterpiece its going to be.


DVD Details:

Two-disc set that is a very generous offering that takes you through every facet of the making of this picture.

Screen Formats: 2.40:1

Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Chinese, Korean, Thai; and Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French-Canadian: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; commentary with Director Julie Taymor and Music Producer/Composer Elliot Goldenthal as well as two live performances of Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite..

* Commentary
o Feature-length audio commentary by Taymor and music producer/composer Elliot Goldenthal
* Featurettes
o Creating the Universe (30:00)
o Stars of Tomorrow (30:00)
o Moving Across the Universe (09:00)
o FX on the Universe (06:30)
o Eight extended musical performances (35:00)
* Deleted Scenes -
o Features Luther singing And I love Her
o Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite
* Photo Gallery
o On the Set
o Behind the Scenes
o Design
* Previews

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging


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