Cloud Atlas Review: In This Case, Ambition is a Double Edged Sword

Photo Credit: http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2012/09/06/cloud-atlas-theatrical-trailer/

A movie this ambitious is certainly not going to be perfect, but in this case, it’s the thought that counts.

Cloud Atlas has six stories that are loosely connected. Some work incredibly well. Others fall flat and therefore hurt the overall movie. But there is far more good than bad here. For a film this ambitious that is a true accomplishment.

The point that the filmmakers are trying to get across is that we as humans cannot fathom the importance of our existence, and that the smallest action can spark a revolution centuries later. The problem with it is that the directors, like us, are human, and can only scratch the surface of this premise. But I have to admit, they probably get a lot closer than a lot of other artists have.

As you probably know, Cloud Atlas has three directors, Lana and Andy Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer. As far as filmmaking goes, they knock it out of the park. The film is visually gorgeous. The six stories weave in and out of each other flawlessly. For a two hour and 45 minute movie, it moves pretty quickly and keeps things interesting.

The cast does a wonderful job for the most part. Tom Hanks makes for an admirable lead, playing the villain of the earliest story and the hero of the latest.

But the best performances of the film go to Jim Broadbent and Hugo Weaving. Broadbent is delightful in every role he plays and is one of the few actors who is having some fun among these deep themes and dark stories. Weaving does what he does best and plays the villain in almost every story, with the most distant future having the most effective of them all.

Ben Whishaw also gives a great performance and portrays perhaps the most likable and relatable character in the whole movie. Which is saying something considering how many there are.

The cast mix and match what race and gender they play and it works for the most part. Sure, Weaving’s voice when he is playing a woman isn’t the most convincing, but as the credits roll and you see exactly who every actor played, you will find yourself shocked at some of the incredible make-up jobs.

The effort is clearly there in every aspect of what I’m sure will go down as an epic. Which makes it even harder to say that the whole thing just doesn’t come together. It’s powerful but not as powerful as the filmmakers think it is.

When it comes down to it, only about three of the stories really work and have a big emotional payoff (the stories I really enjoyed took place in 1931, 2012, and 2144). The other three (1850, 1975, and the very distant future) are left to dangle with little fulfillment. It leads to a half as good of an emotional payoff for the whole film. It feels like the directors really wanted to tell some of the stories, but not all. But I guess that is the problem when you try to tell six at once.

Cloud Atlas is not a failure though, far from it in fact. You will probably never see anything like it ever again. That alone is worth the price of admission. Just beware that the impact will not last as long as the filmmakers clearly intend it to. Grade: B+

 

 

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