Cloud Atlas – 4 out of 5
Based on the novel by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas is quite possibly one of the most ambitious films I have ever seen in my life. Brought to you by three directors (a feat almost completely unheard of in the world of cinema), the film is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed but does that make it a good thing? Wouldn’t it just have been easier to release another remake, reboot or sequel? Of course, if you looked at my score, obvious the gambit the directors took paid off.
|And I don't care how good you were in this one, Halle Berry...nothing will|
ever erase the memory of Catwoman.
Cloud Atlas is not an easy film to sum up in a bite-sized synopsis because it has layers (like an onion or some other sort of thing that has layers—like my appreciate for the candy Dots). The film tells 6 different stories that span the course of time and are set in various parts of the world. Each story is connected in some facet with another story and while they each may seem completely different, their similarities become more apparent as the near 3 hour running length moves forward.
|"Hello? I'm just trying to find more of the 70s in this room..."|
One story takes place in the South Pacific in 1849 where a lawyer, at the behest of his father-in-law, conducts some business in the slave trade but soon learns the human side of this horrible endeavor after a slave sneaks aboard his ship destined for home. The next story takes place in England in 1936 where two composers get to work on what will be the greatest piece of music of their entire careers; “The Cloud Atlas Sextet.” The third story is set in California in 1973 where a journalist is trying to expose a nefarious plot that involves a nuclear power plant.
|This is how the film portrayed the 1840s. They may have taken some|
|"So...are we going to Mordor? I've heard one can|
just walk into that place...at least, that's what I've
|Then things get sexy...|
Each of these stories are played out simultaneously during the film—okay, well not simultaneously because that would be confusing as all hell…more confusing then the end product that is Cloud Atlas. Each of these stories are intertwined together and start to parallel and have impacts on each other as the film progresses and becomes all the more addicting to watch; it’s one of the film’s strongest aspects. Even more amazing is that each story is strong enough to be its own film and I found that to be pretty damn cool and something that really showed how developed not only Mitchell’s source material was but how well they developed the adaptation. Every story is incredibly rich with backstory that the film doesn’t actually have to tell you anything about the era it is taking place in because, thanks to the direction of the film’s three directors, you instantly figure out what is going on, what has happened and what is going to take place in the time period the film places you in.
|And Keith David is in this film. Keith David; the voice of Goliath and fighter|
of The Roddy Piper.
One of the most unique aspects of the film is the fact that every actor plays several roles in the film and each role is about as different as they can be—some even jump races, genders and nationality in their roles. For example, we get to hear Hugh Grant with an American accent in the film and see Hugo Weaving in drag (something we haven’t experienced since The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert). Either this was actually happening in the movie or I was high as balls the other night. While it is just incredible to see such actors as Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Keith David and Susan Sarandon play several parts (and all parts that are very drastically different) there is an element to this dynamic that gets…weird.
|He just saw how he looks as a woman in this movie. Don't get him wrong,|
he'd still do himself...
To achieve the effect of making the characters different, it’s no surprise that make-up was used. When this is going from era to era (or man to woman in some cases) the end results isn’t that jarring but when there is a jump from race to race, things get strange. For example, we see Caucasian actors playing Asian characters in the Neo Seoul story and they look less like inhabitants of the East and more like a cheap alien race from a Sci-Fi film.
|Tom Hanks as the mob boss also looks like an alien, for that matter.|
|The longer you stare at Hugo Weaving as a woman,|
the more aroused you will become.
|The De-Asianifying process tends to make the person look like a demon trying|
to pass for a human.
The directors (The Wachowski siblings—Andy and Lana—and Tom Tykwer) really wove together something magical with this film as they were able to take stories that all existed in drastically different eras and make them all work together. Even their directing styles (Andy and Lana directed the stories that take place in 1848, 2144 and the “after The Fall,” while Tykwer directed the stories taking place in 1936, 1973 and 2012) are all drastically different and unique but all came together quite well to make a film that was über-engaging. The sheer fact alone that this movie has a story taking place when an entire race was used as slaves AND during a time that has yet to come and we have flying cars and clones to serve us our junk food and they both somehow worked in concert together is amazing in and of itself.
|In the future, no one finds any joy drinking Capri Suns.|
Sadly, this movie ended up bombing at the box office. With a budget of over 100 million dollars, the film is the most expensive indie film to date but it only ended up making about 24 mil in the theaters. This movie approached John Carter levels of bombing (Carter cost over 250 million and only made 73 million and resulted in a CEO stepping down—possibly from embarrassment over that p.o.s.) but unlike Carter, this movie has amazing special effects, a story that doesn’t make you fall asleep and acting that is just outright incredible.
|About as incredible as the collar on Hugh Grant's shirt.|
Overall, I think I have to watch Cloud Atlas several times to truly appreciate all the work that went into the film. That isn't to say that I didn’t enjoy it after one viewing (because I totally did) but the film is made on such a scope with such detail and intricacies that to truly appreciate the ambition that was steering and powering this thing several viewings have to be utilized. I’m also going to use this as an excuse to get out of things and plans from now on. “Sorry, I can’t make it to Gram-gram’s funeral because I have to watch Cloud Atlas again…you know, so I can fully appreciate all the dedication that when into the movie.”
|Ironically, it was doing this that caused my Gram-gram's death.|