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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Jim Sturgess
Evan Rachel Wood
Joe Anderson
Dana Fuchs
Bono.
Directors
Julie Taymor.
Screenwriters
Dick Clement
Ian La Frenais.
Running Time
140 minutes

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Across The Universe
It’s so crazy it might just work...


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Plot
When Liverpool ship builder Jude (Sturgess) travels to America, he’s embroiled in the New York boho scene and rise of the peace movement, and falls in love with a girl called Lucy (Wood). As told through the medium of The Beatles’ greatest hits.


Review
Across The Universe

Here’s the bad news: Julie Taymor’s madly ambitious concept is
a musical built out of Beatles songs, which charts both the turbulent history of the ‘60s and the band’s place within in. Not that the band figure in the movie at all, just their songs.

Taymor does this with bags of visual flamboyance but very little restraint, utilising the scripting talents of the duo behind TV’s Porridge, a gang of unknown actors (excepting Marilyn Manson’s current squeeze Evan Rachel Wood) and an appearance from U2’s frontman in a very silly moustache singing I Am The Walrus.

To depict all the tumbling psychedelic parties and political upheavals, Taymor goes in for trippy, surreal jamborees splurged in primary colours, as if Willy Wonka had taken over. She also fully reserves the right to play it gentle and romantic, letting the leads softly croon Let It Be or Blackbird right there on the streets of the real world.

It’s haphazard, at times demented, entirely overreaching, and has experienced a tumultuous conflict over the final cut. Nothing about this film should work. 

Here’s the good news: it’s wonderful.

A testament to both the enduring emotional power of the Fab Four’s music, vividly reworked by Elliot Goldenthal, T-Bone Burnett and Teese Gohl, and Taymor’s unbridled artistic brio in taking such a dizzyingly daft idea and enriching it with such soul it’ll reconfirm your faith that film can provide comfort and solace.

Taymor’s triumph, whatever the turmoil in the edit suite, is how sublimely she aligns the sensibility of the individual songs to their place in the narrative. As While My Guitar Gently Weeps beautifully describes a note of heartbreak; Dear Prudence playfully underscores a lesbian coming out (naturally named Prudence), while the slow, aching build into the inevitable Hey Jude joyously tugs our hero from despondency. 

The young cast of near-unknowns are up to the challenge, each of them ‘suggesting’ rock ‘n’ roll heroes and heroines of the era. Lead Jim Sturgess is a sort-of John Lennon; vibrant Dana Fuchs a quasi-Janice Joplin; Martin Luther a near Jimi Hendrix; while skinny, intense Joe Anderson even echoes Kurt Cobain in a kind of meta-rock crossover.

All the while it remains an old-fashioned story where boy gets girl, with the silly-perfect message that all you need is love.


Verdict
A load of kids singing Beatles tunes? You better believe it.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Across The Universe
Empire Star Rating

All You Need Is Love

Being a fan of the Beatles I was worried that this story woudn't do justice to the band but having decided to watch it with an open mind I absolutely loved it. For me this film never gets boring. Across the Universe submerses you into sixties America and the variety of Beatles hits combine perfectly with the story. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Luck Dragon at 23:14, 11 February 2009 | Report This Post


All you need is love.

I watched this at the weekend and its awakened my love for the Beatles Ive now re watched the anthology dvds and passed this film onto friends who have loved it just as much. you know what im gonna go watch it again now. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sledgehammer1 at 14:22, 14 January 2009 | Report This Post


Patchy at best

Everything that's bad about musicals really; its too long, self-indulgent, predictable (plot wise anyway) and pretentious. But the leads give their all and one or two bits are great. Very patchy. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 12:25, 15 June 2008 | Report This Post


Across the Universe

Somewhat overly theatrical and stagy, but still great. Performances are sometimes wooden and too stagy, but the music and visuals save the film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 00:23, 26 March 2008 | Report This Post


The best musical ever made.

Across the Universe is the best musical movie ever made. I love every single song about the Beatles. Terrific. A masterpiece. Great Movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 01:15, 09 March 2008 | Report This Post


not for me.

I was actually really disappointed with this venture and found it, whilst very pretty, little more than an excercise to see how many beatles songs can be crammed in no matter how tenuous the link is. The acting was handling lightly and well by the actors, but some aspects were simply bizzare. Was there any need to have the character of Maxwell randomly bashing about with a silver hammer in one scene? Yes, there is a song by The Beatles of that name but did it really further the plot or character... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by fayesw at 17:05, 04 March 2008 | Report This Post


RE: a load of beatles -

A tricky one this ... With the rash of musicals in the West End and on Broadway based on the songs of one artist and attempting to meld them into a story (i.e. Mamma Mia!, We Will Rock You etc), it was surely only a matter of time before we saw the phenomeneon hit the big screen, and here it is.  Taking 33 songs of The Beatles, Julie Taymor can at least be content that she is getting quality lyrics and melodies throughout.   The film starts simultaneously in Liverpool and in an ... More

Posted by Groovy Mule at 14:28, 10 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: a load of beatles -

L: jimbo909 I saw this at the weekend and really loved it. It's a definitely a film made by Beatles fans for Beatles fans. Director Julie Taymor clearly has great affection for the Beatles' music and the spirit of the sixties. The story follows a young working class Liverpool lad on his journey through sixties America where he falls in love with a middle class daddy's little girl type. And as always happens in Hollywood she loves him back. This wouldn't happen in real life, at least... More

Posted by HitchHiker at 17:25, 03 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: a load of beatles -

I saw this at the weekend and really loved it. It's a definitely a film made by Beatles fans for Beatles fans. Director Julie Taymor clearly has great affection for the Beatles' music and the spirit of the sixties. The story follows a young working class Liverpool lad on his journey through sixties America where he falls in love with a middle class daddy's little girl type. And as always happens in Hollywood she loves him back. This wouldn't happen in real life, at least not to me. On a p... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jimbo909 at 08:09, 03 October 2007 | Report This Post


a load of beatles -

A musical inspired by the tunes of The Beatles sounds like a great idea- Wrong. Across The Universe is a useless exercise and seems to only exist for no other reason than curiosity - what could they do with The Beatles? Turns out not a lot. Set in the '60s, the story follows Liverpudlian dockworker Jude as he leaves his native city and travels to America in search of his father. There he meets Max a rich student, and the two move into a New York apartment owned by musician Sadie . While Max dec... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 20:53, 01 October 2007 | Report This Post


A load of Beatles tunes with an inspired story!

Who would've thought that all the best of the Beatles crammed into one long film would actually be able maintain a storyline? Set in the 60's during the vietnam war and the crazy hippy revolution, the insane yet in ways very powerful love story turned out to be rather impressive. Since most of it was visual and musical, the character development was fairly poor, but that didn't really matter all of them being such lovable and appealing characters. Some sequences were very intense including the &... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mogolimovieman at 16:31, 01 October 2007 | Report This Post


A load of Beatles tunes with an inspired story!

Who would've thought that all the best of the Beatles crammed into one long film would actually be able maintain a storyline? Set in the 60's during the vietnam war and the crazy hippy revolution, the insane yet in ways very powerful love story turned out to be rather impressive. Since most of it was visual and musical, the character development was fairly poor, but that didn't really matter all of them being such lovable and appealing characters. Some sequences were very intense including the &... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mogolimovieman at 16:31, 01 October 2007 | Report This Post


Jim Sturges as a sort-of John Lennon? Looked more like David Essex to me. :P And another thing... how much does Joe Anderson bloody look like Kurt Cobain?!? Jeeeeez..... almost an absolute ringer (more than Michael Pitt, anyway... Gus Van Sant should be kicking himself). A Beatles musical with Kurt Cobain and David Essex. Now THAT's crazy. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Martin1876 at 19:42, 30 September 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Come Together (but of course!!!)

All i have to say is from start to finish its great not just the songs (which weren't lip synched) but how a script was formed around 33 beatles songs. Bits of it are a bit.......weird (especially bono on a hippie bus singing i am the walrus in an american accentand nice cameos off eddie izzard as Mr Kite, Salma Hayek as 5 sexy nurses, and joe cocker as a tramp, pimp, and hippie singing come together. Only thing was by half way you could tell what was gonna happen in the end. I have to say... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by David Dvd 1988 at 18:35, 30 September 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Wonderful

The first 25 or so seconds of the trailer for this film feature Sturgess singing a bit of /i] before establishing that he's a Liverpudlian who travels to New York with a college drop out in the 1960s. And gave strong reason to suspect that this was little more than exercise in shoe-horning in as many Beatle's songs as possible with little care for anything else - the main charachter's name is Jude. And that proved to be the case. I frequently found myself hoping that they'd hurry the fil... More

Posted by thedrin at 08:32, 30 September 2007 | Report This Post


Wonderful

An ambitious film which sometimes overreaches itself, but hits the mark often enough to be marked out as something special. Some truly memorable scenes. Great songs. Stand out performance from Sturgess. An inspiring film which will leave you singing. There should be more films this creative. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FlexDream at 02:39, 30 September 2007 | Report This Post


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