Across the Universe
It was cute. A little forced at times, but cute.
I just got back from seeing the much anticipated (for me) Across the Universe, also known as the Beatles musical. I'll give them this much: it was a ballsy move, and they just about pulled it off. They did make me enjoy some different versions of classic Beatles songs, and that was my biggest worry. I was just waiting for them to butcher and tear apart everything I loved about Beatles' songs. And, with the exception of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," which was absolutely horrendous, they succeeded in putting a pleasing spin on great songs.
As for the storyline...eh. It was good, but nothing really new. It was cute. I hate to keep coming back to that word, but it's all I can think of. I put it in the same boat as Garden State: it's a beautiful movie that can make me laugh and be entertaining, but is not brilliant. It's just good, and cute.
There are some great visual elements in the movie, especially the (I guess) drug-induced scenes with crazy coloration and wacky over-sized characters and naked Asian girls painted white and dancing on water (yes, that really was a scene).
The movie did a good job of putting the music into a cultural context. It made you think about what was going on while the Beatles were recording and what may have influenced their art. It also made you think about different meanings for the songs, especially with "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" being used as a military recruitment anthem.
Where the movie lost me is with the over-emphasized references to the Beatles. Rather than just using the songs as a musical, they incorporated the Beatles into everything in the movie. Here are the character names (of the ones that I remember): Jude, Lucy, Prudence, Sadie (who was, in fact, sexy), Maxwell (who was seen with a silver hammer in one scene), Dr. Robert, Rita and Mr. Kite. There were also scenes that seemed forced, as if they decided they wanted to use the song and made sure that they got it in there somewhere, somehow. There is one scene where Prudence locks herself in a closet because she's depressed (god only knows why, she was the most underdeveloped character I have ever seen) and the rest of the characters start singing "Dear Prudence": "Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play. Dear Prudence, meet the brand new day." I was just waiting for Sgt. Pepper and Eleanor Rigby to jump out of a Yellow Submarine.
And I just have to mention that both Joe Cocker and Bono make appearances in this movie. I don't know how I noticed them since they are basically hidden behind some crazy costumes, but it was cool nonetheless.
I don't want to bash this movie too much because it was, again, cute. It's got me listening to the Beatles again, and I guess that's what they wanted in a way. But I can't help to think what the Fab Four think about this movie. I'm sure Paul couldn't give two shits, he's detached himself so much from that era it's ridiculous. George would just shake his head and look the other way. Ringo wouldn't know what to do with himself. And John...well he would hate it. If John were still around, this movie never would have happened.
I'm still trying to decide if that would be a good thing or a bad thing...