I saw Across the Universe out of a sick desire to learn what fresh hell The Beatles were being put through. I’d already put up with I Am Sam’s all Beatles cover score and figured a movie built entirely around covers was going to take this previous low and blow it out of the water. I was very disappointed, so I wasn’t disappointed.
When Bono’s allowed to sing “I Am the Walrus” and Eddie Izzard’s role is to dance around a gaudy green-screened circus in corpse make-up I am not happy. The singers have adequately strong voices, paling against McCartney and Lennon’s, or even Harrison and Starr’s, they can’t act a lick through the nonsense stringing the songs together. Jim Sturgess is a handsome fellow but he isn’t much of an actor, and Evan Rachel Wood’s out-of-focus nipple, though not an official member of SAG, stole the show from the rest of the cast.
There are a few memorable moments, but they only come out of the inspired production design. Strawberries bleeding their juice over a canvas and Easter Island-like heads peopling a luscious were interesting while failing to gloss over the predictable character arcs and corny dialogue. What was essentially a group of music videos stapeled together met my lowest expectations, and has served only to embolden my disgust for Beatles tributes, covers and/or modern musicals.
The credits told me “written by The Wachowski Brothers” and my mind did a double take. No way did something like that come from someone like them. Alan Moore provided the story and characters, but they had to have taken more than just those bare bones when putting the script together because believing they went from The Matrix: Revolutions to V for Vendetta takes a chasm-sized leap of faith. Give a big hand to graphic novelists, credible actors and competent directing, everybody.
V for Vendetta was so in tune with my fifteen-year-old sensibilities. It was about revolution against a conservative society, pairing nicely with my distaste for Bush-run America. It had a badass vigilante anti-hero preaching justice through knife throwing. There were explosions that looked like they could really fuck you up, and a quick, sweet story that never felt to stretch too far beyond the reasoning of the censor-happy futuristic universe it lived in.
Most important to me now as it was then is Natalie Portman. Before Sinead O’Connor I’d never seen a female celebrity with a shaved head before Portman as Eve, and I haven’t seen an attractive one since. She was smart, precocious, and sexy though her trials living in a cold, unforgiving world, and one of my favorite heroines for her earnest-feeling bouts of scared indecision, and her ability to make me root for her from the moment she walks onto the film.
After the movie, and after the shock of the Wachowskis I turned to my friends and awaited their thoughts. I assumed I was going to be alone in my enjoyment, but I was wrong. V for Vendetta struck a heavy chord with my liberal, excitable self, and the feelings ran from one socially conscious youth to another the world over. Would I feel the same now as I did then? Not sure. I’d like to think so. I really would.