Adapting David Mitchell's award winning sci-fi/fantasy/drama was a mammoth undertaking and while it's great to see Big Money thrown at something this bonkers, the visually impressive multiple plotlines fail to click on an emotional level.
Some movies you just have to go with it and Jim Broadbent's opening narration implores you to here: "Extend your patience for just a moment and you will find there is method in this madness." This is crucial: can you extend your patience for 172 minutes (as all is revealed right at the end) and, while there may be method in the madness, was it worth it?
Patience isn't easy. Cloud Atlas opens with Tom Hanks mumbling incoherently into a campfire (a problem as his story goes on) before launching headlong into the six stories that will take up nearly three hours. Among these stories is a bisexual musician serving as an amanuensis to a grouchy old composer in the 1930s, an investigative reporter unearths some shenanigans with a nuclear company in 1973 San Francisco and there's an interview with a rebel before she's sent to her death in 2144. Hanks, Berry, Sturgess, Broadbent, Grant, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw and Susan Sarandon contribute to some, and sometimes all, stories in different guises.
The easiest way to solve a jigsaw puzzle is to start with the edges; in a film of seemingly unrelated stories the 'edges' are the theme - figure that out and the film will reveal its charms. This is Cloud Atlas's allure and it enjoys playing with us, constantly hinting at the point of it all: Is it about reincarnation, transmigration, cosmic karma, big fat coincidences? Take your pick.
The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer split up stories between them and come up with some snazzy visuals. Employing a different structure to the novel, the six stories run parallel to reach a climax concurrently - it doesn't have the runaway always-ending sensation of, say, Magnolia but they keep the clock ticking throughout. Slipping from one story to the next willy-nilly results in some emotional heft being lost, however.
Extending your patience is advisable and while Cloud Atlas will disclose more of itself upon more sittings it's a big ask to do it all over again.
Review by Gavin Burke | 14:53 | Monday 18th February 2013 | Movie Review
My biggest problem with the movie probably comes down to the source material (the book). I thought the idea was really good but poorly portrayed. The trailer for the film depicted the idea better than the actual film i.e. it came across as if all of the stories through time we're linked with one another (Tom Hanks walking into his office, seeing Halle Berry and saying "I can't describe it, but I knew you the minute I walked into that office" etc.) but when you watch the actual film, none of the individual stories actually link together (bar that scene I mentioned and one other one when Berry walks into the Record Store and hears Cloud Atlas being played and knows it). I thought idividually the stories were fantastic and would of made great individual films (or episodes if they made it a TV show). I think Cloud Atlas' biggest flaw is that the stories don't interlink enough. Had they not used the same actors I wouldn't have noticed any link at all it would have just been several stories mixed together. My favourite individual story was the Chinese girls in the future but have NO IDEA why she appears in a video in the space-ship in Tom Hanks cannibilistic future? Its as if they just put her there to be like "Look, see, they're interlinked... get it?" But there needs to be a REASON why they're linked or else your left with, what is, Cloud Atlas.Posted 12:38 | Thu 21st Feb 2013
A very curious film indeed. It veered back and forth from an overblown mess to a work of pure genius. I didn't like it at first, but once I settled into the timeframe structure I started to enjoy it. I'm still conflicted about it though.Posted 11:50 | Sat 23rd Feb 2013
Can't reccomend this movie enough. That said I loved the book, and thought they did a great job of filming the unfilmable . There's a lot going on in it, there's layers upon layers , with connections (some obvious, some more subtle) that can be easy to missed when reading 6 seperate stories, but on film even more so. Its not going to be for everyone, but if you enjoying seeing a movie that challenges you to keep up, that makes you think, that has you discussing it and trying and work it our afterwards, and possibly/probably going to see it a second time, you'll enjoy this :)Posted 18:06 | Sat 23rd Feb 2013
Epic. Well worth seeing. Visually stunning; funny; and best of all. brave, innovative film-making. Hanks' Irish accent (and ensuing violent scene) is probably worth the price of admission alone.Posted 00:26 | Mon 25th Feb 2013
weird movie , can't make heads or tails parts of movie but definitely worth a watchPosted 21:55 | Sun 3rd Mar 2013
Odd. Eccentric. Brilliant. Blew my mind.Posted 20:22 | Sun 10th Mar 2013
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