REVIEW: Cloud Atlas

6

600full-cloud-atlas-posterWith Cloud Atlas featuring some kind of philosophical purpose within its six different stories along with an impressive ensemble cast, the direction from Andy and Lana Wachowski and clocking at almost 3 hours, it seemed to have ‘epic’ all over it. However, in the end to call Cloud Atlas an ‘epic’ film is perhaps an overstatement as it does not quite achieve the potential that it has made out to appear. Of course, the film succeeds on the technical side of things and is a visual delight, but that was already to be expected of it. On the other hand, when it comes to the writing, direction and acting, Cloud Atlas is a disappointment.

Based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas is the latest feature from the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix trilogy) who have another associate behind the camera: Tom Tykwer, director of The International and Perfume: The Story Of A Murder. While Cloud Atlas succeeds admirably with make-up, costume design, visual effects etc, the film’s major problem is structure. We still see the same six stories in the film that are in the original novel but the Wachowskis and Tykwer tell them in a shambled order where certain moments within one story are unexpectedly cut to another. This is not only confusing for the audience but also annoying. Furthermore, the stories are set in all different stages displaying many walks of life. So, the film could have worked much better if it was structured in either a chronological order or in a way where one particular moment of a story ends to begin another. The Wachowskis and Tykwer can do better than this but they could have done worse.

Like many films, the ensemble cast is one of the major stand-outs that hold them together. However, it always depends on whether they deliver in terms of performance. Although he is not declared the leading actor in the film, Tom Hanks is perhaps the one who makes the tallest stand as he, as well as the majority of the cast, portrays at least one character from each story, whether it’s leading, supporting or even cameo. Hanks has been a strong leader in many films and he delivers exceptionally well in his roles with strong heroism and sophistication. In addition to the cast are Halle Berry, who mostly portrayed journalist Luisa Rey, Jim Broadbent mainly as publisher Timothy Cavendish and other actors such as Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant.

Whichever way you look at Cloud Atlas, it is simply six decent films mashed into one that has been poorly structured. It could have been following the same as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life in terms of human drama with a philosophical meaning, but the six stories just lacked that moral connection that it needed. Nevertheless, Cloud Atlas is not a bad film seeing as it technically delivers as expected and the performances are solid, but the Wachowski’s and Tykwer were no match for the film that they were going into, which means it should have been directed by a more sophisticated filmmaker.

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~ by SJMJ91 on 13/01/2013.

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