Over the past month I heard lots of people mention Cloud Atlas and I had seen the posters scattered around. Big face of Tom Hanks and a crowded cast of A listers. For this reason I didn’t do any research in to the film beforehand. I wanted to go in with no idea what it was about and enjoy it without any initial judgements. Well the fact it was made by the Wachowskis’, who wrote and directed The Matrix, was more than enough for me to be excited.
Before the title screen came up, Cloud Atlas had already jumped through a number of different time zones and short clips. I could tell straight away that I would need to give this my full attention or I would quickly be lost. The film started in an unknown time zone before going between 1849, 1936, 1973, 2012, 2144 and 106 winters after “The Fall”. There was a mixture of classic, romance, comedy, spy thriller and sci fi all rolled in to one. The stories were constantly jumping around. You were getting in to one and then the next came. It was like waiting a week to see the next episode of your favourite series. Except you had to see through some boring ones in between.
Cloud Atlas has a grand cast led by the always reliable Tom Hanks. He is fantastic throughout the movie, even in the bit parts he plays in some stories. Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess all play a number of different characters in the film. Each one is very different to the next. This film really shows their acting abilities across a number of genres. I’m sure it will help all of them widen their casting for films in the future.
The visual effects blow you away from the start. You can really see The Matrix influence of the 2144 section, in the look and topic. The make up on the characters for most of the film was fantastic. There are a couple of rough parts though were you could see they really tried to make the actors look different. I suppose when someone is 6 different people it can be hard to make significant differences.
The synopsis of the film is:
‘An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution’
I just didn’t see the big character link between the stories. Except that it was the same actor playing a different role. There was nothing to mention the character’s soul had gone through the ages and been reborn. I do think that is was it was trying to achieve. Yes Tom Hanks played the bad guy in the begining and the good guy in the end. But I again couldnt see the link. There was the idea in each story of a type of revolution but with a lot of them were very flimsy on this fact. The revolution idea must be big with the Wachowskis’ as this was what The Matrix was leaning on. Even naming one of the films Matrix Revolutions.
The film is definitely an acquired taste. They will be some people who love it and some like me who came out not caring. I would have loved to see a couple of the stories made in to their own film, especially the ones in the future. Or maybe just half the amount of stories entwined and a much stronger link between them. A couple of people have said that they need to see it a 2nd or maybe even a 3rd time to understand everything in the film. To be honest i couldn’t sit through another 3 hours let alone 6 hours of this again.
With the many different stories, there is something for everyone. Some people may had loved the stories I didn’t and weren’t fond of the ones I enjoyed. I think with the cast, visual effects and the grand scale of the film, that this will do well in the box office. Just be prepared for an 8 minute shy of 3 hour film that may make you leave confused or disappointed. There were so many directions I wanted this to go or twists I wanted to see, but didn’t.
Sydney Social 101 gives ‘Cloud Atlas’ a 7.5 /10.
The screening was attended by Syrus Wynne. sydney Social 101’s film reviewer.