A set of six nested stories spanning time between the 19th century and a distant post-apocalyptic future., Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future. Based on the award winning novel by David Mitchell. Directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis.
What a remarkable surprise, entering with massive trepidation, realizing after fifteen minutes that "I really liked it".
"Cloud Atlas", (referring to a symphony composed as the film progresses ) is based upon the novel by David Mitchell, directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski ("The Matrix"); it is elegant, beautiful, lyrical, metaphorical, comical, confusing and confounding; a feast for the imagination; my best advice is to let "Cloud Atlas" imprison your mind's eye, take reign and gallop with one of the most ambitious, compelling stories in recent film. Confusion eventually morphs into understanding as we watch a myriad of talented actors assume various personages, gender changes, good/evil depictions through three disparate eras.
Halle Berry and Tom Hanks are the principal standard-bearers, storytellers; they are magnificent speaking a bastardized pig-Latin; with attentive listening, the viewer adjusts, meaning is clarified. Jim Broadbent adds Shakespearian comic relief as publisher, "Timothy Cavendish"; his escape from a home for the ageing, mentality deficient, is hilarious. Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Hugo Wearing, Jim Sturgess, Keith David, James D' Arcy, and ethereal, Korean Donna Bae appear at different times, in various, barely discernable guises.
At the core of this remarkable film is the question, pathos, comprehension of reincarnation; are we all contemporary versions of past selves? "Cloud Atlas" gifts resounding affirmativeness of previous lives, loves, chances lost, regained.
The film is flawed, oftentimes too surreal, too long (almost 3 hours) poorly edited, but its heart is grand; pulsating with vision and fortitude, "Cloud Atlas" transcends the ordinary, resonating with dazzling, luminous, extraordinary ingenuity.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!
Hollywood films are rarely as ambitious as “Cloud Atlas,” the collaboration between “Matrix” directors Lana and Larry Wachowski and “Run Lola Run” helmer Tom Tykwer. When you’re lucky enough to have Tom Hanks as the lead, however, a movie can be as daring as it wants to be.
The filmmakers, jamming almost every single genre imaginable into one massive film, seem to be trying to say everything possible about life into one movie. It’s no small feat to accomplish, yet the Wachowskis and Tykwer pulled it off, creating the best film any of the trio have made since the ’90s ended.
Based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell, “Cloud Atlas” juggles six stories, each set in a different time period, from the nineteenth century, 1970s San Francisco, present day London, a “Blade Runner” looking New Seoul in the 22nd century, to a post-apocalyptic world where language itself has evolved. All of these segments involve underdogs struggling against a higher power, each connected by actions that ripple across time. “Atlas” supposes that a killer in one life can become a hero in another, depending on the choices they make. Hanks and the other stars, including Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Sturgess, and Hugo Weaving play characters of different nationalities, races, and in some cases gender. Weaving in particular undergoes the most dramatic of changes, playing a Nurse Ratchett-like overseer of a nursing home and a green-faced Mad Hatter-type entity who acts as the devil on Hanks’ shoulder in the post-apocalyptic segment.
At almost three hours, “Cloud Atlas” requires a little patience, at least at first. The film throws you into the fray, and the result can be a little disorienting at first. “Atlas” spends a lot of time giving the audience a chance to gather their bearings, but stick with it and you won’t be sorry. Some high-minded films can veer off and become pretentious like “Tree of Life,” but that’s not the case with “Atlas.” Yes, the film is bold, high-minded and has some very lofty goals it wants to achieve, but things remain just mainstream enough to keep from turning off most of the audience. The tendency to go mainstream makes “Atlas” easier to digest, but it also feels like the Wachowskis and Tykwer chose to be safe instead of veering too far into art house territory.
It’s easier to figure out everything going on and how each segment connects with the others as the segments unfold. But it isn’t until the very end that everything truly becomes cohesive, the result of which is a swirling mass of ideas about life, love and consequences.
Everything is connected in “Cloud Atlas,” and while the times may change, the things that make people good or evil doesn’t. It may take some people a few lifetimes to get it right, but in the end, everyone has a chance at redemption.
-- Ryan Hill