Every decade, there’s usually a film of epic proportions that stands out among the rest. ‘Star Wars’, ‘The Matrix’, and ‘Lord of the Rings’ comes to mind immediately, and though this decade has barely begun, I’d say that ‘Cloud Atlas’ is in the running for this decade’s epic. Though you really, really have to pay attention to the six interlocking storylines, and it is pretty long, once you see how everything is connected (as advertised on the posters), you get one really awesome story that brings it’s audience through a gauntlet of emotions complemented by amazing practical and cg effects.
Let’s start with the effects. If this film doesn’t win all of the make-up and effects type of Oscars, there’s something seriously wrong with Academy. All the actors were in multiple roles varying in age, ethnicity, gender, and time period. Every time someone, let’s say Tom Hanks, appeared onscreen as a different character, he looked phenomenal. It was really insane how different he looked each time. The make-up MVPs were Hugo Weaving and Jim Sturgess though. Seeing Sturgess as Hae-Joo Chang and Weaving as Nurse Noakes and Old Georgie was mind-boggling. For me, the make-up artists get the most props for their work on those three characters. In the case of Hae-Joo Chang, making a Caucasian male into a believable Asian male is no easy task, and they certainly pulled it off. Also, when Weaving was recently saying that he wanted to try different things as an actor instead of reprising his role as The Red Skull in future Marvel movies, he certainly got his wish when he worked on ‘Cloud Atlas’ because he got to show many, many, many sides of his acting capability here.
Weaving and Sturgess weren’t the only ones who had outstanding showings in this movie. The whole cast was really great as well. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Jim Broadbent were all in great form. Broadbent’s character of Timothy Cavendish had one of the best stories in the whole movie. It was more comedic than the rest and it provided a little break from some of the more serious storylines. But the unexpected stand out of the film for me was Hugh Grant. When I think of him, I tend to think of his roles in ‘Music & Lyrics’, ‘Notting Hill’, ‘Love Actually’, and other romantic comedies like that. In ‘Cloud Atlas’, he played a more villainous role (or should I say roles since he was multiple bad guys) and he did a great job. I really hated some of his characters so he did his job as an antagonist. I hope he takes more roles like that in the future.
I may have liked the movie overall, but there were a few things that were unfavorable about the story. Generally, they were pretty minute discrepancies. There’s a lot of story contained in ‘Cloud Atlas’ and for the most part all of the different storylines were well put together, but there were some small questions that weren’t really answered or addressed. But in the scope of the whole thing, it didn’t really matter if they were addressed or not, so these things are forgiven.
Finally, the matter of what this movie is about. All throughout my coverage of this movie in the months leading up to ‘Cloud Atlas’, I was a bit confused as to how I should describe the film. I always just added this synopsis of the film:
An epic story of humankind in which the actions and consequences of our lives impact one another throughout the past, present, and future as one soul is shaped from a murderer into a savior and a single act of kindness ripples out for centuries to inspire a revolution.
Well, after actually seeing the movie, I have a much better understanding of what ‘Cloud Atlas’ is about and that is love. Though this movie explores a number of different people in a number of different times in a number of different genres, the underlying message of the film is love. Yeah, it takes nearly three hours for you to get the full spectrum of the message, but it was definitely worth it when the credits started to roll. I felt really good afterwards, not only because I got to stand up and stretch, but emotionally as well.
‘Cloud Atlas’ was a huge undertaking and I found that Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer did a superb job of pulling it all together. This is one of my favorite movies of the year, and definitely one of my favorites at the 21st Philadelphia Film Festival, where it showed to a packed house. I’d say that I can’t wait to watch it again, but I think I’d have to plan it out at least a week in advanced to make sure that it fits in my schedule. I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars.