Cloud Atlas – 2.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

cloud atlasCloud Atlas – 2.5/5 – This is for a review for a film that came out about a year ago.  I was able to watch this on Blu-Ray, and I must say that this film is the pure definition of style over substance.  With a film that spans over centuries, with multiple storylines, it turns out to be a daring task.  This kind of film is one worth trying to create, but the overall experience of watching it just never reaches the pinnacle of amazement.  In the end, Cloud Atlas is a film of strong promise, but never actually makes it to the finish line.

Premise: Over centuries of 6 stories, we get a look at how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future.  As humans look to make the right choice, everything is connected, and everything will lead to something more.

When it comes to the acting, it is a big cluster for the ‘connective’ storyline.  I speak of it this way because the actors/actresses below play more than one specific character; they play multiple characters across the timelines.  With that being said, below are the actors/actresses that populate throughout this film:

Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, James D’Arcy, Xun Zhou, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, Huge Grant and Robert Fyfe to name a few.

These actors/actresses portray individuals through the span of the six stories.  In these roles, they do a great job at giving us distinct people, with distinct motives. Even in the great portrayals, their individualities can come off as greatly exaggerated in certain eras (especially the futuristic eras) but for the most part, the emotional overtones are exuded through their interactions and dialogue with each other.  The dialogue is where the poignancy is felt, as you will be able to attach some meaningful substance in these overarching storylines.  Other than this, the realization is very obvious; they are caricatures of human existence.  The plus of this is that it gives the audience a general scope of how eras don’t change emotions and everyone are linked in some way, shape or form.  The minus is that they play on clichés, and do it in a very redundant manner.  The supporting cast aren’t important to name, as they are just a there to add flavor to this melting pot.

When it comes to the direction, it is one that relies heavily on subtleness and emotional themes within these arching stories.  Within those themes of ‘life, love and choice’ we are bridge with humanistic values to form some commonality within the broad stroke of the artsy direction.  As mentioned earlier, the film spans over centuries, focusing on 6 stories that happen at various times on earth.  In those stories, we are witness to the characters through pivotal moments that are poignant and revealing.  Even in these dramatic situations, the film does take a lot of time focusing on how each of these particular moments has an influence on the other.  With that time spent on creating that connective substance, the film for at least the first half is a convoluted mess.  There isn’t any strong coherency, as the film’s purpose and understanding is gradually built upon a layering motif of life.   With this slow explanation, it creates a loose focus, forcing any kind of structure to being evasive.  Once the ‘marks’ of the connections come through (through the narration of certain characters) you start to realize that the layering of connection is within the journey of life.  This meaningful grasp gives the films its purpose.  This would have been great, but the film never lets you get a full grasp of this journey, as a lot of the film is focus on the abstract of the imagination, drowning out the meanings behind the characters.  It gives proof to that ‘story’ isn’t important, and you lose an attraction to what is happening to the individuals.  Because of this, you develop a love/hate kind of relationship while watching this film.  There is so much to take in that it creates a lackluster feeling towards the artsy and colors of the scenarios; that any sensations that are meant to be moving, aren’t.  This is why the whole experience of the film becomes hallow.  It is a shame because there are a lot of great themes being played out through this film.  Once the film gets to the climax, you’ll begin to whither from the exhaustive running time, but still feel as there is something of a completion in the end.

The visuals of the film that shows that ‘style’ perspective, giving something of a strong point for it.  No matter if it is focused on the ‘past’ or ‘futuristic’ timelines, the scenery is lush, vast and encapsulating.  If it wasn’t for the exhaustive nature of the spanning storylines, the visuals would have been wonderfully enticing.  Even so, it is enjoyable to see where the imagination can take you.  The score is a plus to the emotive and meaningful themes, but nothing more than that.

Overall, Cloud Atlas is the definition of style over substance.  With the exhaustive look at multiple storylines, the narrative gets lost in the exaggeration of simple themes being played throughout for the audience.  Even so, there are enough moments to make it enjoyable at parts.  If you want to check out this film, I’d say go for it.  It isn’t anything more than a rental, if you have the time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *