Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cloud Atlas

I was extremely intrigued when I first saw the trailer for Cloud Atlas, though I admit I wasn’t sure what it was about. What I did know was it was a film combining numerous story lines over the past, present and future, and was based on a novel by David Mitchell. I also know it was a film by the Wachowski’s, best known for The Matrix Trilogy, and boasted a hell of a cast including Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving and Halle Berry.

Here’s the premise as described on IMDb: “Everything is connected: an 1849 diary of an ocean voyage across the Pacific; letters from a composer to his friend; a thriller about a murder at a nuclear power plant; a farce about a publisher in a nursing home; a rebellious clone in futuristic Korea; and the tale of a tribe living in post-apocalyptic Hawaii, far in the future.”

I'd seen plenty of positive reviews prior to seeing this film, so I must admit my expectations were high despite not knowing what Cloud Atlas was really about. Unfortunately, I walked out of the theater disappointed. I was impressed with the acting and storytelling technique, but I more disappointed in the stories themselves and left with a feeling that I missed something—I'm still not sure what Cloud Atlas was all about and feel like I missed something.

Let me start with the things I like, the first of which was the acting. All of the aforementioned actors, as well as a bevy of others, each starred as numerous characters in the films, one in each of the timelines. For instance, Hanks was a doctor in 1849, a cocky author in the publishing farce, and a futuristic tribesman in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii. It was cool watching all of these actors tackle various roles, ones where they were oftentimes unrecognizable, and I'd be thrilled to see others do it in future films.

Hanks did a good job as always, as did Berry, but my favorite performances came courtesy of Weaving and Ben Whishaw, the former as hilarious as Nurse Noakes, while the latter killed it as composer Robert Frobisher. This was my first time watching Whishaw, and I can already tell he’s going to be a major player in Hollywood in the years to come. Other actors who did a fine job were Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Keith David, Jim Sturgess, JimBroadbent and Doona Bae, just to name a few.

I also thought the filmmakers did a good job telling six different stories via one medium. It was a tall task and I thought it flowed well; however, the movie was a little too long for my liking, coming in at three hours, and there were times where I thought, "When is this going to end." Never a good feeling to have when I just paid to be entertained.

Along with the length, I wasn’t thrilled with the individual stories. While the filmmakers put them together well, their interconnectedness wasn’t as profound as I expected. It’s my belief that if each story had been made into a film all its own, they’d each be on the weaker side (the composer storyline was the best in my opinion). Don’t get me wrong, I can see how the happenings in one story lead to repercussions in the others (which was the film's goal), but overall it was kind of bland.

Cloud Atlas wasn’t terrible by any means, but it was not the profound, revolutionary movie that was being billed. The story-telling technique was cool, and I could see it working quite well in other formats (i.e. comic book movies), but as is I wasn’t impressed. Cloud Atlas was too long, filled with tiresome stories, and failed to inspire. I’d wait for the DVD on this one.

Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 45%

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