Across the Universe (Blu-ray) (2007)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-5 production featurettes
Music Video-8 extended versions of musical numbers
Audio Commentary-Julie Taymor & Elliot Goldenthal
|Year Of Production||2007|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Julie Taymor|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Evan Rachel Wood
|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|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
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.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
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.
A proper title menu is provided that features high definition animation and music from the film.
Director Julie Taymor and composer/arranger Elliot Goldenthal provide a reasonably interesting commentary that focuses specifically on the music of the film.
A reasonably interesting "Making Of" featurette. This featurette does a good job of capturing director Julie Taymor's intentions and her production style.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two alternate takes of the psychadelic For The Benefit of Mr. Kite sequence, featuring the manic Eddie Izzard.
A single, arguably unnecessary deleted scene. This one is so short you could almost call it a "deleted shot" rather than a deleted scene.
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.
An extensive gallery of black and white sketches, produced by Jude throughout the movie.
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.
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.
|DVD||Sony 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 Decoder||Pioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub|