Review: Cloud Atlas

From the creators of The Matrix comes an adaptation that could not have split opinion more completely when it released in the USA. I have been itching for months to see it.

Adapted from the novel of the same name, Cloud Atlas is an ambitious undertaking, to the point of foolish; a multi-faceted science fiction drama epic spanning across continents and millennia, delving into all subjects of morality; greed, love, slavery, life, death, reincarnation, religion, fate and destiny.

The film spans across mutliple stories in different time periods; one in the 1800s, another in the 1970s, present day, in the 2100s, and within a post-apocolyptic future. These stories play out simultaneously, edited together with the fateful ties that one character has to another. The actors and actresses involved fill the roles of completely different characters who could be ancestorally connected over the centuries! The mysterious theme of the film is hard to pin down, but it addresses inter-connectivity between every single person, about how lives can be changed before they have even begun, how one life can be set on a world-changing revolution without knowing that its destiny had been pre-determined.

Ooft. To say the premise is ambitious is an understatement! Yet Cloud Atlas really works, especially as a creative drama stuffed to capacity with unique visuals and attention to detail. One minute you will be onboard a seventeenth century galleon, the next you will be dodging futuristic hover-bikes or evading cannibalistic tribesmen. Oh, and the comedic stylings of escaping an old folks home! Its editing is remarkable because all of these separate events appear to merge into one cohesive narrative!

Tom Hanks is an example of the great acting here; playing an intellectual scientist, a murderous doctor, a haunted tribesman and a thuggish author! And every single actor gets this much scope, and this film doesn’t scrimp on actors either! Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw, to name just a few! They all play different people in each time frame, as different races, even different genders!

And here is the rub. Cloud Atlas has received a hail of hatred for apparent negligence and dare I say racism for using (for example) white actors as Korean characters. It is a very strange concept, and takes some getting used to (it is clearly Jim Sturgess or Weaving with Asian make-up) but the film’s deliberateness in this device is because it is telling a story of destiny and connectivity; we are all the same, regardless of race or gender or age, and come from the same source. Once you get used to that, you will learn the film’s eye-opening integrity and see the complete narrative coming through.
(it isn’t shabby make-up either, becoming downright impressive under the scrutiny of High Definition!)

It is an incredible feat and remarkably unique in an age when blockbuster cinema is full of remakes, sequels and prequels. Will everyone like it? Evidentally not! But I am exhilerated to say I have not seen anything like it before, and I want to see it again!

Additional Marshmallows: It must be seen to be believed; a film like this never gets this much love, attention and money thrown at it!

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