I have been taking ages to find the motivation and thoughts to write this review – I am as scattered about writing this review as the film is. The film is a visual masterpiece that has the Wachowski stamp all over it but at the same time it is a convoluted mess of multiple intertwining pointless stories that are genuinely ruined by Tom Hanks That being said – I like it.
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 dramatically 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. Each member of the ensemble appears in multiple roles as the stories move through time.
Now be strong of mind and body if watching this as you will be following multiple stories for close on three full hours and how these stories join up is nearly impossible to fathom, has nearly no meaning and stars all the same people in an orgy of make-up, effects and hideous Tom Hanks and Jim Sturgess latex facial changes.
The cast is beyond huge – how is this for a lead cast:
I would have been happy to have seen any of these individual stories as just that, individual stories. Tom Hanks is the dark thread of the story with Halle Berry. I love Berry and wish there was more of her on film. She was enjoyable on this but I just don’t like Hanks anymore for some reason – he seems so fake and pantomimed and no amount of makeup makes him more believable – his best character was the tribal one – the least amount of make up on and I dug all the tats. Jim Broadbent is marvelous in whatever he does – his was the heartbreaking but also comic relief story that got some good laughs. Hugo Weaving is back pretty much as Agent Smith from the Matrix films, he does dark and evil so well.
Jim Sturgess and Doona Bae give a good action/ romance/ sci fi twist to the story and the action scenes are incredible. Just Stugess’ forehead when they make him Asian is ridiculous and laughable.
Ben Whishaw’s story was my favourite for two reasons. 1) It is the most romantic and heart wrenching tale and 2) I love him pure and simple – he is my perfect man.
Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant play very different roles that what we are used to – I literally cheered the sky watching an evil Hugh Grant not being the cheesy romantic comedian. His tribal character was splendid and I thank him for it.
I don’t think anyone else could have made this film and why would they. It needs a book to explain everything – I am still unsure what the whole meaning of it was or the purpose of it. We actually have Natalie Portman to thank for this film. She gave the book to the Wachowskis and they fell in love with it and worked on it for years and years to get a screenplay they were happy with. Portman was always going to be Sonmi-451 but fell pregnant right before filming. The Wachowskis made this film with fellow director Tom Tykwer (best known as director of Run Lola, Run). Multiple sets and locations were used all over the world and all three are credited as directors. The Wachowskis had one set going and Tykwer had the other and actors would play multiple characters with multiple costume changes throughout any given day. They must have been just as confused as I was by the end of it.
I think the Wachowskis but off a bit more than they could chew for this one – at $100000000 it is the most expensive independent film ever made and I cannot see it making that back. While each individual story is great in its own right and looks superb with a beautiful score the tying of them together is the unraveling of the film – it lacks the reveal and punch in the face we needed after three hours.
I would see this for the individual stories and beautiful visuals with some great acting – especially Whishaw and Broadbent. But be prepared to be let down and confused. I give this one 6 out of 10 unraveled Wachowskis. Cloud Atlas releases this Thursday 28th February 2013 in Australia at most cinemas.