Across the Universe (Blu-ray) (2007)

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Released 19-Mar-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Main Menu Audio & Animation
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-5 production featurettes
Music Video-8 extended versions of musical numbers
Bookmark
Audio Commentary-Julie Taymor & Elliot Goldenthal
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 135:15
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Julie Taymor
Studio
Distributor
SONY Pictures
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Evan Rachel Wood
Jim Sturgess
Joe Anderson
Dana Fuchs
Martin Luther
T.V. Carpio
Spencer Liff
Case ?
RPI $44.95 Music Elliot Goldenthal


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 EX (6912Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby TrueHD 5.1 EX (6912Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Across The Universe is a musical based on the music of The Beatles. Pulling together songs from every era of the Fab Four's career, with a modest degree of reinterpretation, it tells the story of a young Liverpudlian man named Jude (Jim Sturgess) who heads to America in search of his father, who had left his mother at the end of the Second World War. After an anti-climactic reunion with the old man, Jude meets Max (Joe Anderson), a soon-to-be college dropout, and the pair head off to live in New York, a melting pot of culture diverse enough to play out plenty of The Beatles' songs. Living in star-to-be Sadie's (Dana Fuchs) group house, Jude falls in love with Max's sister Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) and Max finds himself drafted into the army. Cue psychedelia and songs of protest amidst the mix of love, as well as the odd tune for the many other members of Sadie's apartment.

    While it deserves praise for its ambition, Across The Universe is ultimately a bit of a disappointment. The lavish set pieces and musical numbers are magnificent and a pure joy to watch. The story and characters that hang these glorious sequences together are woeful. The story is so awkwardly contrived that it is cringe-worthy, not to mention painfully drawn out over the film's hefty running time. The characters are completely lacking in anything more than the two dimensional caricatures etched out by the songs that inspired their names (a real shame, as the young cast all do incredibly well with what they have been given to work with). The net result isn't something that anyone attracted to the concept will regret having watched, even for casual fans of The Beatles, but few won't wish that it was done better.

    Whilst the primary cast are pretty much all unknowns, there are a couple of scene stealing appearances from Bono and Eddie Izzard, each of whom are given a psychedelic routine to lead.

    Five stars for spectacle and one star for story evens out to a three star experience in my book, although plenty will either love or hate the Across The Universe experience. This homage is certainly worth a look for anybody who has a little love for The Beatles.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Disclaimer: Please note that this disc has a video resolution of 1080p. It has been reviewed on a display device with a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL). More information can be found here.

    The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, in 1080P.

    The video transfer is excellent. The image is sharp and clear. A very mild level of film grain, that will only be visible on large displays, is present throughout the film. There is no sign of low level noise. There is a reasonable level of detail in shadows and dark scenes, but the blacks do look a little crushed compared to some other high definition transfers.

    The movie makes glorious use of colour, all of which has translated magnificently to Blu-ray. The closing credits sequence, in particular, makes for an excellent Blu-ray demo for its colour.

    There is no sign of compression artefacts or film artefacts

    English subtitles are present. Based on the portion I sampled they look to be accurate and well timed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    An English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) audio track and English Descriptive Audio is present for the film.

    The audio track is beautifully mixed and crystal clear. The dialogue is a generally little softer than the sung vocals, but still easy to understand and appears well synchronised to the video.

    Elliot Goldenthal has arranged the various Beatles covers quite well and composed a good deal of original score to bridge the gaps between the songs. The original score components do a good job of keeping with the style of the featured Beatles tracks.

    The surround channel usage is a little disappointing. Most of the music hogs the front speakers rather than enveloping the listener in the world of surround they would probably expect from this sort of high concept musical. The subwoofer channel is used to great effect, however, particularly in supporting the bottom end of the score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The film is supported by a mountain of extras on this disc, although, like the film itself, many of the featurettes are a little bloated. Each is presented in 1080p.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    A proper title menu is provided that features high definition animation and music from the film.

Audio Commentary with Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal

    Director Julie Taymor and composer/arranger Elliot Goldenthal provide a reasonably interesting commentary that focuses specifically on the music of the film.

Creating the Universe Featurette (29:09)

    A reasonably interesting "Making Of" featurette. This featurette does a good job of capturing director Julie Taymor's intentions and her production style.

Stars of Tomorrow Featurette (27:07)

    An overlong, but moderately interesting profile of the key members of the largely unknown cast. There is interesting material in this featurette, and a couple of the stars are certainly ones to watch.

All About the Music Featurette (15:24)

    A featurette about the music production, particularly Elliot Goldenthal's involvement in arranging the various pieces to Julie Taymor's vision. Plenty of fly-on-the-wall studio footage accompanies a handful of interviews in this featurette.

Moving Across the Universe Featurette (9:03)

    A rather pretentious, ego-stroking featurette that fawns over just how wonderful and unconventional director Julie Taymor is. Anyone looking to figure out how the Across The Universe concept went wrong, look no further.

FX of the Universe Featurette (6:35)

    A lamentably brief special effects featurette. Considering the large number of effects used throughout the movie, this brief featurette is a bit of a disappointment.

Extended Musical Performances

    Eight extended musical sequences are included. None really add a great deal to their presentation in the movie itself, but this does make for a better "music video" take on your favourite song.

For The Benefit of Mr. Kite Alternate Takes (5:42)

    Two alternate takes of the psychadelic For The Benefit of Mr. Kite sequence, featuring the manic Eddie Izzard.

Deleted Scene (0:52)

    A single, arguably unnecessary deleted scene. This one is so short you could almost call it a "deleted shot" rather than a deleted scene.

Bookmarking Feature

    Bookmarks can be placed throughout the movie, which are stored in the Blu-ray player's permanent memory, and navigated to from the main menu, much like a scene selection.

Don Nance Illustration Gallery

    An extensive gallery of black and white sketches, produced by Jude throughout the movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The US Region A edition of Across The Universe includes additional Portuguese and Spanish language tracks and different subtitle tracks, but is otherwise identical in terms of content to the Australian Region B edition. unless you require one of those language or subtitle tracks, this one is a draw.

Summary

    Across The Universe is very much a mixed bag. The Beatles-inspired musical numbers are a joy to watch, but the story and characters are a real drag. Mark this as an interesting failure.

    On a technical level, the disc is very good. The video looks great, particularly its wide palette of psychedelic colours. The sound is crystal clear, but the surround field is a little narrow.

    A wide range of good quality extras are provided.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
What about instead (or in addition to) of a R4 vs R1..... - Anonymous
Previous comment - Anonymous