Cloud Atlas (2012)

October 25, 2012 By Mike B
Movie Review

Cloud Atlas Review

What Worked?

There’s an age old concept that we’re all connected somehow; the string of life passes through all of us, regardless of such trivial things as gender, race,  time, planet or universe. Cloud Atlas, directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski along with Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), is an adaptation of David Mitchell’s series of books that deals with the themes of artistic expression, freedom, and love. The film boasts an all-star cast, including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugo Weaving, recurring in multiple roles throughout the film to further add to the thought that our personal stories  all connected.

As complex and difficult as the transition from the written page to celluloid was, all involved in the production of Cloud Atlas succeed for the most part. From a technical standpoint everything was handled well, or as well as one could handle a variety of stories all in one nearly three hour feature. The make-up and costume designs were appealing, at least more often than not, and the script was entertaining throughout. The Wachowskis and Tykwer shine during the action scenes more than anything, especially in the future with the insane guns rippling away bullets, and the lavish chases reminiscent of the Wachowski brothers past films.

Collectively, the performances are exceptional, but there are a couple of actors that stand out in particular roles. There’s a myriad of characters that the likes of Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, and the rest of the cast plays. Waves of characters come at you, at times rapidly, but the strength of the performances conveys the connections well. The characters aren’t directly connected, but they’re connected through their interaction with the grand story of life that no one ever fits. Jim Broadbent’s performances as Timothy, a writer trapped in a retirement home, is a hysterical performance, and Timothy becomes the most entertaining of the films many characters. On the other hand, Ben Whishaw as Robert Frobisher, a composer with a complicated love life, lends the film the most emotional weight.

Cloud Atlas is a film of layers that ignites your stream of consciousness. All these stories from the past, present, and future reveal the relativity of the human condition. One line captures the film’s theme well: “I believe love can outlive death.”  We are all connected through the stitches of a yearning for artistic expression, freedom, and love. This is what counts in life, no matter where or when you are.

Potential Drawbacks:

There are a few stories that outshine the others, and when the lesser stories come along, they may seem like interruptions rather than part of the whole. The conclusion of each particular story didn’t feel like it had much of an emotional impact at all, and it might be due to the fact that the film gets bogged down with all the juggling. There are parts where it seems that you were supposed to be touched by a scene, but nothing really affects you.

The style in which the film is presented keeps the audience guessing about how all the stories are connected, and this actually could be a pain for some. The connections aren’t always clear, and they shouldn’t be, but sometimes the film just feels like a mess when it bounces from story line to story line.

For the most part, the make-up jobs are fine, but there are some instances where some people will see the make-up as ridiculous or laughable. There’s a unique difficulty in reusing actors for different characters in the same film.

Film Recommendations:


The Fountain

Run Lola Run

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