2 In 1: Across the Universe and August Rush.

This 2 In 1 focuses on two movies where the music is key to the movie. The first, Across the Universe, is one I’ve been wanting to see for a while and just recently rented. The second, August Rush, is one I first saw in theater and just watched for a second time. So without further ado…

Across the Universe.

Across the Universe was not what I expected, and, frankly, as a fan of musicals, I was a bit disappointed. Jude (Jim Sturgess) goes to America to find his father and meets Max (Joe Anderson) and falls in love with Max’s sister, Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood). A bunch of Beatles songs are sung. Max is drafted. The 1960s ensue.

I guess I’ll start with the good. The movie’s renditions of the songs were, for the most part, really good. And the singing was good. I also liked how some of the props and such became part of the music (like in Atonement). Also, visually, the movie was stunning (with a few exceptions around the middle, such as The Magic Schoolbus and the incredibly random circus, which were just annoying). My favorite song is “Let It Be” near the beginning. It just felt like a really powerful song and scene in the movie. I also liked “Come Together” right afterward, because it was so random (hobos, hookers, and pimps singing bluesy). Ironically, neither of these songs were sung by the main cast (with the exception of one line at the end of “Come Together.”

Now for the bad. The story is nearly non-existent and disjointed, and the songs sometimes suffered from what I like to call “High School Musical Syndrome.” In other words, it was overly obvious that the actors were lip-syncing to a pre-recorded track. And oftentimes the musical numbers weren’t musical numbers at all. They would either start as a musical number and turn into a music video with the songs playing over a nearly unrelated-to-the-song montage where you never see the singer, or it would start with said montage and end with the singer. It just didn’t feel like a musical, but instead one really long music video medley of Beatles covers. And a lot of the time (though not all the time), as I said, the songs didn’t seem to match up with what was going on… or it was overly forced and just seemed to be a random fluff scene that was only in the movie so the song could be included (which was a huge chunk of the movie). A lot of this was remedied by the end of the movie (to a degree), but by that point, the movie had become so disjointed and boring that I no longer really cared.

As for the acting, it was… okay. The only character I really grew attached to was Jude, and I wasn’t even overly caring about him. It was just hard to get attached to anything in the movie. I really can’t think of anything else to say about this movie. It was good to look at (most of the time, when it wasn’t being just plain weird), and it was good to listen to, but I don’t think it really worked as a movie, nor as a musical.

Stop Saying Okay! Okay.

August Rush.

There are a couple good ways to describe this movie. The first is actually said near the beginning of the movie: “I believe in music the way some people believe in fairy tales.” This movie is basically like a modern day fairy tale with a strong musical theme. The second way to describe this movie would be as a musical with (almost) nothing but instrumentals. August Rush is about three different stories: The first is about young Evan (Freddie Highmore), left to an orphanage, who has a keen ear for music. He runs away from the orphanage to the big city of New York and meets up with Wizard (Robin Williams), a homeless musician who uses homeless kids to help make a profit in exchange for giving them a place to stay. Wizard ends up dubbing Evan with a better performer name, August Rush. His adventure grows from there. The second story is about his mother, Lyla (Keri Russell), a concert musician who learns of her son’s existence and tries to find him. The third story is about his father, Louis (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an Irishman in a rock band who loses the musical faith and tries to find the woman (Lyla) he once had a one-night fling with.

This movie is all about the music, and the music is beautiful. From the mixing of concert strings and rock guitar to church choir to just noises of the busy streets, the music is mesmerizing. As I stated previously, this movie is like a musical for instrumental music (with a few vocals thrown in every now and then), and the music is wonderful.

There are also some great visual effects, as well, such as the stunning opening sequence in the tall grass. There’s some good camera choices and lighting choices, as well, which make the movie a joy to watch. There are a couple mistakes noticeable here and there, such as a scene in which Louis is speaking but his mouth is saying something completely different. There was also a scene that was fixed between theater and DVD, apparently, as in the theater version you could clearly see Freddie Highmore’s mic pack as he stood up after first meeting Terrence Howard’s character. But those are just nitpicky things, really.

The acting is pretty good all around, even to Robin Williams, whose character you can’t help but both equally dislike and feel sorry for (he alludes very clearly the kind of childhood he had). Yeah, it’s completely not the type of character advertised in the previews. There’s really not much else to say. Great music, good visuals, good acting, good story… overall great movie.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

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