Movie Review: CLOUD ATLAS

Movie Review: CLOUD ATLAS


Director: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weavig, Jim Sturgess, Hugh Grant, James D’Arcy, Doona Bae

“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime; and every kindness we birth our future.”

Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer are the powerhouses behind The Matrix Trilogy and Run Lola Run. They have teamed up to bring us the big screen adaption of the novel of the same name by David Mitchell. They each wrote and directed various segments of the movie. The movie is one hell of an ambitious undertaking. It asks the audience to go through a visionary tale of six vastly different stories spanning 472 years from the South Pacific Ocean in 1849 to a post-apocalyptic world in the Hawaiian Islands in 2321.

The stories are all different, but are interwoven and connected. There are little touches here and there that help the audience connect them. Many of them are very minor and subtle, so I wouldn’t spend a lot of time trying to mentally connect them. The most notable is a shooting star birthmark that many of the characters possess. The idea behind the movie will still resonate if you just sit back and watch without thinking too much throughout the movie. The basic concept behind the film as a whole is that our individual actions whether they be violent acts or acts of kindness are shaped and impacted by the past, present, and the future. All of the choices we make in our present life have an impact on a future life.

In order to address this, the company of actors including: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Hugo Weaving and Doona Bae all play various roles of various genders and races throughout each of the stories. The make-up is absolutely stunning as you try to play “Name that Actor” during each of the segments. Luckily, during the end credits they show each of the characters names next to the actor that played them. I found it intriguing and smart to have Hugo Weaving always play the antagonist, villain, or devil on your shoulder type character.

With a running time of nearly three hours, the movie asks the audience to follow each of the stories and care about each one of them in hopes you do not get bored and twitchy. I belong in the later category. I felt fully intrigued during the first hour or so as you settle into the stories and see where they are going. As the movie went on, I found myself latching on to the more realistic worlds and story lines, mainly the ones set in 1936, 1973, and 2012. The characters and emotions seemed more authentic and real. I am not sure what to attribute that to. Is it the fact the make-up and special effects are more minimal? Is the acting better? The best relationship between two characters belongs to Jim Broadbent and Ben Whishaw in the 1936 segment. They play so well off each other that I wanted far more of that storyline as well as the continuation of it in the 1973 segment.

I find the movie very polarizing. I cannot fully love it nor do I hate it or dislike it. I really wanted to love it, so there is a bit of disappointment to it. The special effects and make-up design are top notch. I expect it to win Best Make-Up Design at the Oscars. After giving Tom Hanks and Halle Berry six very different looks, I do not see how it could lose. Even though those design elements make the movie a stunning artistic achievement, I was the least interested by the segments that utilized those effects heavily. It was as if the emotion and story was stripped thin in order to focus on the artistry and design. There will be people coming out of the theater loving everything about it. They will be the ones enraptured for the three hours. You will have others that will feel bored and that the concept is too preachy and the movie is far too long. I am somewhere in the middle. I love the concept and idea behind the movie. I love the fact that the same actors played multiple characters throughout especially when they were of a different genre or race. I just wish I would have connected to all of the stories.

RATING: *** (3 out of 5 stars)

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