Release Date(s)2007 (January 9, 2018)
Studio(s)Revolution Studios/Columbia Pictures (Sony Pictures)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: B+
[The film portion of this review was written by Barrie Maxwell in 2007, while the disc portion is by Bill Hunt for the new 4K release.]
Jude (Jim Sturgess) is a young Brit who makes his way to New Jersey in search of the American father he’s never met. Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) is a young American girl who’s trying to make decisions about her future even as she worries about a boyfriend serving in Vietnam. Meanwhile, her older brother, Max (Joe Anderson), disappoints their parents by dropping out of college, then draws both Jude and Lucy into a whirlwind of music and bohemian culture as they all attempt to navigate their way through the social turbulence of America in the late 1960s.
Across the Universe is the latest from director Julie Taymor (Frida, Titus and numerous operas and stage plays). The film is a very effective fusion of young love and Beatles music, set in the United States and to a lesser extent England and Vietnam of the 1960s. Using then relatively unknown players (including Wood, Sturgess, Anderson, and Dana Fuchs) who do their own singing, for the most part very successfully, the story begins slowly but builds to an amazing series of set pieces (dare one say, psychedelic at times) that reflect Taymor’s background in theatrical staging not to mention puppetry and mime. The standout of these is a production number set in a U.S. Army induction centre to the track “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”
Sony’s 4K Ultra HD presentation is top-notch. The film was shot photochemically in Super 35 using Panavision and Arricam cameras and mastered to a full native 4K Digital Intermediate. Following an HDR10 color grade, the image is presented on Ultra HD in the 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio. The visual quality is stunning, with magnificent fine detail and subtle texturing. There’s a light to moderate wash of grain befitting the Super 35 image capture. Colors are pushed toward the warm, appearing slightly desaturated at times and truly bold at others by design, but are always luminous and accurate. Contrast is excellent, with deep, detailed blacks and nicely bright highlights. The image has a lovely dimensional quality and represents the theatrical experience well.
Primary audio is available in English Dolby Atmos (7.1 TrueHD compatible), a mix that offers tremendous clarity and fidelity, with good low end, and nice atmospherics. The film’s music fares well from start to finish, as does the dialogue. The mix is slightly less aggressive and enveloping than you might be expecting, however, which keeps this from being considered truly reference quality. Additional audio options on the 4K disc include English Descriptive Audio, and 5.1 Dolby Digital in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Castilian Spanish, and Latin Spanish. Optional subtitles are available in English, English SDH, Arabic, Bulgarian, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Castilian Spanish, Latin Spanish, Thai, Turkish, and Ukranian.
There are no extras on the 4K disc itself, but the package includes a Blu-ray edition with the film in 1080p HD. That disc offers the following extras (in HD with some SD material):
- Audio commentary with director Julie Taymor and composer Elliot Goldenthal (with subtitles)
- Creating the Universe (29:09)
- Stars of Tomorrow (27:07)
- All About the Music (15:24)
- Moving Across the Universe (9:03)
- FX on the Universe (6:35)
- Extended Performances (8 tracks – 34:54 in all)
- Deleted Scene: And I Love Her (:52)
- Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite (Eddie Izzard Live Alternate Takes x2 – 5:42 in all)
- Don Nace Art Gallery (2:31 in slideshow mode)
Of these, the commentary is definitely the highlight. You also get a Digital Copy code on a paper insert in the packaging.
Across the Universe is both highly theatrical and a throwback to a kind of musical cinema rare in this day and age. If you connect with it, the film so entrances that, by its end, you may want to view it all again just to catch all the details you missed on the first go-round. It’s also a lovely and recommended 4K Ultra HD release.
- Barrie Maxwell (with Bill Hunt)