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CLOUD ATLAS (2012)

MAY 12, 2014

I didn’t know what to expect when I sat down to watch CLOUD ATLAS. The movie was trounced by critics as well as the general audience when it first came out and bombed miserably at the domestic box office. On top of that, I have felt that the Wachowskis have really slipped as filmmakers with not only 2 sub-par sequels to THE MATRIX, but with the god-awful SPEED RACER (2008). V FOR VENDETTA (2006) being the only recent bright spot. 


I was pleasantly surprised to discover what a beautiful movie CLOUD ATLAS is. Epic in scope and scale, it is ultimately about freedom and hope for the future of humanity. 


Following 6 storylines that range from the past to the far future, the film weaves and bobs through time combining all 6 tales into one vast tapestry. They are loosely connected but do tie into one another with actors portraying different characters in each time period. 


What is truly remarkable is the range of genres and tones that are on display. There are elements of thriller, sci-fi, action, romance and even broad comedy. Co-directed by Tom Tykwer (RUN LOLA RUN, PERFUME), he oversaw a handful of the stories while the Wachowskis handled the rest. 


At almost 3 hours in length the film is long, but I was never bored by it. It moves at a steady pace and always had an intriguing element to snare my attention as it shifted seamlessly from story to story leading toward a fascinating and very human resolution. 


The movie isn’t perfect by any means and at the end of the day, I’m not sure if all the pieces add up, but I wasn’t aware of that as I watched it. While viewing CLOUD ATLAS, I was along for the ride and completely immersed in its world. And even after it was over, I didn’t feel the need to overly analyze what I watched. It was an experience I enjoyed and I did not feel it worthwhile to pick it apart to negate the feelings I had. 


My only real complaint was that in order for the actors to portray different characters, the filmmakers relied on various degrees of make-up, some utilizing heavy prosthetics. The make-ups were good, but they needed to be great. At times they were a bit distracting, especially when viewed on a large screen in full HD. 


The best thing I can say about CLOUD ATLAS is that it is different. The filmmakers tried (and I feel succeeded) at taking me somewhere that I haven’t been before and that deserves my admiration. Love it or hate it, the film is unique and the filmmakers tried there best to create a piece of art and that’s why I watch movies.