Cloud Atlas Directed by: Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Doona Bae, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving Running Time: 2 hrs 52 mins Rating: R Release Date: October 26, 2012
PLOT: The actions of individuals impact the entire world over the course of thousands of years. From the past, present and future, different souls have the chance to be villains and heroes.
WHO'S IT FOR? Want something that feels original, yet very familiar? Are you a fan of big, grand attempts of cinema? Desperate for six different performances by Tom Hanks? See the film.
Connect the dots. Unless you have little ones at home, it has probably been a long time since you've connected the dots to form a full picture. Cloud Atlas allows you the chance, in this very beautiful, engaging, emotional film. It is the simplest story, told in the most complex way possible.
Different timelines, the same actors, and very similar motivations capture six different stories told over the course of almost three hours. Abuse of power, freedom, acts of kindness and love are at the center of each story. All you have to do is keep that in mind when you are watching. Plus, if you see a shooting star birthmark, that means that character is the key person within that storyline. Sounds easy, right? Well, I've seen this film twice and during the first time I had a tough time relaxing. For a while, I felt the same way watching Cloud Atlas as I did with Inception. I thought if I turned away, or held my blink a little too long, I would miss the connective piece that glued it all together. Halfway through Cloud Atlas I was near panic, because I realized I had to do something I hadn't done all year during a film; go to the restroom. I picked my moment, and now that I have seen the film twice, I can say this with confidence ... relax and enjoy.
There is a great awareness and control with this film. In the beginning one of Broadbent's characters, Timothy Cavendish, explains that he hates flashbacks and forwards. He apologizes and says, "Be patient, there is a method to the madness." Timothy Cavendish is absolutely right. The six story lines intersect so well, I was shocked to learn that is not how David Mitchell's novel is structured. Each timeline has its own look, and whether it's 1849 in the Pacific Islands, San Francisco in the 1973, London in 2012, or Neo Seoul in 2144, you absolutely feel that moment. Great work is done with the costumes, makeup, locations and special effects to make everything feel vivid. Thankfully, the musical score of Cloud Atlas, which plays a specific role with one story line, is also quite wonderful. In fact, I'm listening to the soundtrack as I write this review.
Timothy Cavendish and present day London is the perfect light-hearted story to blend with the heavier ones, and Broadbent's wide-eyed looks are hilarious. Sonmi-451 played by Bae gives us the most science-fiction of story lines, yet still has a compelling story behind the cool look and gadgets. How Hanks and Berry connect over the different story-lines, and how you realize this influences the characters that Hanks plays is just wonderful. Grant embodies a few characters that would actually constitute "range." When is the last time you can say Hugh Grant played someone different? Even characters like Javier Gomez (Brody Nicholas Lee) play a bigger role if you watch closely. This film breaks new ground with the level in which actors play characters with different races and gender. It's not even possible to understand every word spoken in Cloud Atlas, but you always understand the emotion. The words you will clearly understand get taken to new heights depending on who is saying them, such as "I will not be subjected to criminal abuse."
Cloud Atlas is an event. It's a production. I realized this fully when I stayed for the credits. There, you'll get a glimpse of exactly who played whom. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Doona Bae, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Susan Surandon and Keith David all had multiple roles and during the credits you have a chance to quickly see them again. Blockbusters like this are rare. Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer went for it. While there is a little nudity, violence and F-bombs, this is a film I believe most teenagers can handle. It's also a film I believe you'll want to see again.
With Cloud Atlas you'll play connect the dots, and potentially feel like a kid, remembering what it is like to be amazed at what you are seeing on the big screen.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10