Review of 'Cloud Atlas'

cloud_atlas.jpg Amazing. They said it could not be filmed. A story in six parts. But it has been done and been done very, very well. The story is fantastic, acting superb and effects incredible.

How to sum up the story? Hum, well, there are six stories all of which are connected to one another. Chronologically we have the story of a merchant returning from Africa who runs afoul of a greedy “doctor” but befriends an escaped slave, another we have the story of a young composer who finds work with a famous composer early in the 20th century yet is troubled by failed love and the masterpiece stuck in his head, yet another we have a reporter in the 1970s finding that there are hidden secrets about a nuclear power plant - secrets that people are willing to kill to protect, present day sees a publisher on the run from financial “obligations” running instead into his brother's revenge in the form of committing him to an old age home (this is the, thankfully, “humorous” story in the midst of all the other stories' seriousness - Jim Broadbent doing a great job here), in the future we follow the story of an android built to serve man who learns that there is more to life…and a devastating future that waits her kind, and the final story sees earth destroyed in the far future with people reverting to a nomadic, tribal existence that is threatened by raiders who regularly attack and kill…a strange visitor wants to travel to a restricted area, what is her purpose (Halle Barry as the visitor is suitably sterile but ultimately compassionate and Tom Hanks as the hardened “goat herder” played with conviction)? The film cuts back and forth between the different stories but this oddly seems to work quite well with the cuts often continuing the same story or theme in the next scene. A lot of story to put into the 2 and a half hour running time…

One thing that may bother viewers is the language used in the last, far-future, story which is obviously English-based but can often be difficult to follow as it is spoken so quickly (and no sub-titles). Patience, is rewarded and listening closely extracts the meaning clearly. Another feather in the hat for the actors here…

I will not even begin to try to provide a complete list of the roles and the actors that played them as the end credits show that most actors staring here (Tom Hanks, Halle Barry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Keith David and Susan Sarandon to name but a few) play multiple roles in each of the different stories. The make-up is generally very convincing (with only infrequent and minor unconvincing elements - cross-dressing will always be difficult to pull off with 100% accuracy!) and the performances simply amazing - Tender and completely convincing.

The themes here are the fight against injustice and love. The stories all tie into this as we drive relentlessly through the frequent shocks and rewarding triumphs…

This is a tour-de-force of filmmaking and storytelling. If you can keep up with the many things happening the end result is worth it. A movie that deserves re-watching and a bit of thought…Nice to see something different coming out of Hollywood!

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2013-08-02

Directed by: The Wachowskis (Andy Wachowski; Lana/Larry Wachowski) and Tom Tykwer

Studio: Cloud Atlas Productions

Year: 2012

Length: 172 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films by The Wachowskis (Andy Wachowski; Lana/Larry Wachowski):