Here’s an interesting failure: a collection of strung-together music videos – scored with Beatles tunes – that have plenty of Broadway pizzazz but no emotional resonance, a lot of visual distractions but nothing original to say. The Beatles references are here, there and everywhere, with 30 songs ranging from “I Want To Hold Your Hand” to “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.” For Beatles newcomers, the movie provides a well-balanced overview of the band’s oeuvre, but for anyone remotely familiar with their music and cultural iconography, the idea the movie posits – that the Beatles evolved with and soundtracked the turbulent ’60s – is hardly a groundbreaking notion. Directed by Broadway choreographer Julie Taymor (The Lion King), the movie does nothing extraordinary with the tunes, framing them around a romance between an artist from Liverpool (Jim Sturgess) and an anti-war activist (Evan Rachel Wood) on the glossy streets of a romanticized New York at the height of the Vietnam protests. The movie takes ages to get to the point and longer to finish it, leaving a few bravura moments and a lot of extraneous historical exposition. If the film wants to assert the Beatles’ ubiquity and transcendence, then setting the music in the exact circumstances in which it was recorded is counterproductive. (PG-13)
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