Movie Review: "Cloud Atlas"

Movie Review: "Cloud Atlas"

Summary: Interconnecting stories and characters that cross race, gender, time and even film genres prove we live by our "crime and every kindness.”

Published October 25, 2012

Summary : Interconnecting stories and characters that cross race, gender, time and even film genres prove we live by our "crime and every kindness.”

Review :  The three creators (Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski ) of Cloud Atlas clearly know the film based on the best-selling novel is not for everyone. If you were annoyed by Inception , rolled your eyes at Avatar and thought all of the Matrix sequels sucked — Cloud Atlas is your enemy.  Audiences will equally love and hate the mind-bending flick.

As simple as possible, here are breakdowns of the stories: an escaped slave, doctor and lawyer at sea in 1849, an inspiring composer in 1936 Scotland, a nosy reporter in 1973 San Francisco, ballsy senior citizens in a nursing home, a revolt against a corrupt government with an unlikely hero in 2144 Neo Seoul, post-apocalyptic tribes people in the 2300s — yes, a heap to digest. In between, there are wondrous special effects, commentary on race and class and one-line morality zingers (“Love could outlive death,” “Our lives are not our own,” “You ever think the universe was against you?”). Cloud Atlas is a complex mishmash of The Matrix meets Apocalypto meets Amistad — with a touch of Inception and Oprah's Lifeclass .

Cloud Atlas is also the return of Halle Berry in a big budget film. With Tom Hanks by her side, Berry proves why she is still relevant after over 20 years in the industry. Berry is a star who owns her talent.  Other notables were veteran Keith David and David Gyasi , who played an escaped slave and is definitely someone to watch.

One downfall of the many stories: characters are left unfinished.  You will definitely ask, "What happened to ... ?"  But the most powerful and developed plot was 2144 Neo Seoul, a creepy tale of corruption, greed and disregard for human life.  In the end, love is the message, but love does not conquer all.

Outside of Cloud Atlas ' laborious storyline, the heart of the story is that we are all connected. Not a groundbreaking concept, but the manner in which the film crisscrosses race, gender, class, religion and sexual orientation makes (most of) the 164-minute running time fascinating to watch. Never have I seen so much diversity in a big budget film.  Moreover, the varied stories didn’t feel like tokens; there was a bright authenticity in each character.  Regardless of whether Cloud Atlas always got it right for the nearly three hours it was on screen, the intention was to tell a transcendental story of unity — spiritual and physical. Many times audiences watch films and do not feel represented on the big screen. Everyone is genuinely represented in Cloud Atlas .

That said, Cloud Atlas needed severe editing.  Only a Broadway show should be nearly three hours long — and even the Great White Way has an intermission!

Cloud Atlas is in theaters Friday, October 26.

Written by Clay Cane


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