Across the Universe Blu-ray Review
PictureA film like this really does deserve the best possible presentation, and I am pleased to say that the transfer really does do the film justice. The film is presented in a theatrically correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio with a 1080p encode.
The film is always going to be a challenge to render, as it consists of a crazy mix of styles - from the realism of New York, to the psychedelic allegorical scenes of Vietnam and various trips the characters undertake. One minute you can have a standard, daytime city scene - and the next a fantasy sequence shot through entirely in green. Yet this disc constantly proves itself up to the task.
The brightness and vividness of the colour are essential to the film, and it is hard to believe how it can get better than the way it is presented here. Most noticeable are the various shades of red that are employed during Strawberry Fields Forever, but this can also be seen during many other scenes, particularly I Want You (She's So Heavy)
In addition to the vibrancy of the colours, the level of detail present in this transfer constantly impresses. Just notice the beauty of the ethereal scenes of Dear Prudence and the level of detail seen on the long shots during the arrival of JoJo. The depth of field present here is astonishing, truly immersing the viewer in the action.
Indeed, the true value of the transfer becomes really apparent when Jude returns to Liverpool about three quarters of the way through the film. Liverpool is presented in complete contrast to America, being grey and flat. Yet even here, the sheer sharpness of the transfer shines through - and despite the flatness (deliberate) the level of detail is present.
Across The Universe is, of course, a modern film and as such there are no visible flaws from the source. This is a pin sharp transfer and is excellent all the way through.
SoundNot just satisfied with a top notch video presentation, Across The Universe is also given an astounding Dolby TrueHD 24 bit soundtrack, which I decoded with the PS3 and outputted to my Amp. At no point during the film does the quality drop, making extensive and immersive use of all six available channels.
The clarity and separation of the front speakers are superb, with dialogue and lyrics both sounding clear as crystal amongst the events going on around them. At no point do we get any distortion and the words are always easy to hear.
The rears are used all the way through the mix, and in a way that is always complementary to the action rather than being done for show. This means that ambient effects during the riot and war scenes are well placed around the sound field, with occasional harmonies on the vocals being very clearly placed behind the listener for a beautifully ethereal effect.
The sub also gets a good workout, with the bass from the music being clear and punchy, and also the various war scenes also providing some punch to the proceedings.
Overall, this soundtrack is easily amongst the most impressive I have heard on the format this year.
ExtrasThings just continue to get better as we move onto the extras. A complete lack of press release fluff, an entirely HD presentation, and a deep insight means that the extras keep up the high quality of this release. The main meat is provided by the five Featurettes
These begin with Creating the Universe, which looks at the production design and several sequences in detail. This is a fascinating in depth look behind the scenes. This is followed by Stars of Tomorrow which really does deliver a genuine insight. Lasting half an hour, each actor is profiled and gives an interview explaining their approach to their character.
We then move on to All About The Music, a fifteen minute insight into the music, unsurprisingly. But this gives fascinating insight into just how radically these songs were re-worked. Finally, two more featurettes Moving Across The Universe, about an underrated part of the film - the choreography. And FX On The Universe which analyses several key scenes.
A very serious, but riveting audio commentary with Taymor and Rosenthal gives yet even more insight into the making of the film, and perhaps most fascinating of all Extended Musical Performances offer full versions of several key musical numbers.
Yet even here it doesn't end. We also see some deleted scenes, and an exclusive to the Blu ray - an art gallery.
VerdictIt may sound like hyperbole, but this is easily the best hi def disc I have had the pleasure of seeing so far this year. The film itself may not be perfect, it sags a little in the middle and could have done with more judicious editing, but the sheer joie de vivre and audacity present in the film means that it is one of the most unique and moving films you will see. This is different from your average Hollywood offering, and all the better for it.
The excellent film is matched with absolutely top notch audio quality, and an extensive fascinating HD extras package.
If you have even remotely considered watching this film, then I thoroughly recommend you take the leap and purchase. You will be glad you did. Indeed, for those who have not heard of this film before - unless you have a pathological dislike of either the Beatles or musicals, then you owe it to yourself to give this a spin.
It really is a fantastic package.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £38.96
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