What it is: Cloud Atlas is a film co-directed by The Wachowski Brothers and Tom Tykwer and it is an adaptation of the novel of the same name written by David Mitchell. The film has a large cast full of big names including Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess and Hugh Grant. The film is kind of revolutionary in the sense that we have actors taking on multiple roles in different storylines as well as time periods.
My thoughts on it: Cloud Atlas was ok. Despite all of the negative reviews I wanted this movie to be good and I wanted the reviews to be wrong. Unfortunately, for the most part they weren’t.
The thing that really felt like Cloud Atlas’s downfall was the same thing that made it unique in the first place: the multiple storylines. The entire theme of the movie was that everything is connected and that was the purpose of all the different storylines. Now for a movie to take on so many independent story lines they need to be relevant to one another and the problem here was that they weren’t. There were a couple of tiny details that reappeared over the course of the movie but most of them seemed incredibly insignificant in comparison to everything else that was happening.
The single cool connection between all of the story lines was the same actors playing different roles. This really accomplished the sense of a soul or one entity that grows and changes with each life. While we see every character reappearing in at least a minor role in each story it is Tom Hanks’ character(s) that really has the most apparent growth. Tom Hanks was really kind of the high light of the cast and out of everyone he really felt like he had the widest array of vastly different characters in the film. I mean the entire cast did a good job but it was Hanks who really stole the show. But with that being said, I found myself really impressed by Ben Whishaw as well as Hugo Weaving who made for a really good villain in almost every arc.
So we are presented with a handful of independent stories bundle into one movie. Now I still don’t think it would have been significantly different if each story belonged to the same genre but each story in Cloud Atlas felt like it belonged to a different genre. We have our two sci-fi stories, our romantic drama, the family comedy, and our colonial expedition. There was a little bit of a bridge between the two futuristic storylines but other than that each story felt like it should have been its own movie.
Now with all of that being said the way each story was pieced together was pretty sweet. They would jump simultaneously from one high point to another, one downfall to the next. They found similar moments from other stories and jumped seamlessly back and forth. It uses the thematic parallels across all the stories to weave them together. So the movie as a whole had great flow despite the plethora of different stories.
All in all, Cloud Atlas was ok. It had some great visuals and some terrible prosthetics. It had some really cool ideas and concepts conveyed over the multiple stories but in the end it felt a little jumbled. Cloud Atlas is revolutionary in the sense that it pushes conventional movie making in a new direction but by looking at so many individual stories it kind of felt like it was focusing more on quantity rather than quality. I don’t mean each individual story was lacking quality but simply I left the movie wishing I had seen each one fleshed out more. I have heard from those who have read the book that they loved the film and as I watched it I got the impression that I would have gotten more out of it if I had read it as well.
Cloud Atlas was a movie I really wanted to like but it fell short in several areas. It is incredibly memorable and pretty interesting despite being a little convoluted. Definitely not a movie you need to see in theater but I would say it is worth picking up from a RedBox. I give Cloud Atlas a 3.5/5.