Cloud Atlas Movie Review
Cloud Atlas will most likely provoke two reactions. Either you will think (A) that the movie is an incredible, audacious, bold, and ambitious spectacle that ultimately rewards the people who dive into it. Or, you will think (B) that the movie is a pretentious, self-serious, pandering piece of crap that will fool its audience into thinking that it’s deeper than it actually is. Both schools of thought aren’t necessarily wrong.
It is, indeed, bold & ambitious, full of ideas, and overflowing with things to say. Those things, however, have a tendency to almost cross the line into pretentiousness & pandering, not unlike the messages you’d find on a bumper sticker. But, make no mistake, the movie is a mental workout. It is six different stories all taking place at different times on different points of existence with all of the actors playing roles in ALL of the different stories. Meanwhile, the events happening in these different stories affect each other, and ripple throughout the film in minimal & monumental ways.
As I said, ambitious.
Ambitious, and visually stunning. Cloud Atlas is the kind of movie that depends almost entirely upon what you choose to bring into it. And, for this reason, Cloud Atlas is a VERY hard film to write about, and digest. I feel as though this review might be a futile attempt to answer a seemingly simple question: “should I go see this”.
Well, look at it this way: Lana & Andy Wachowski and Tom Twyker have directed the hell out of this movie. Every performance is great, the cinematography is gorgeous, the dialogue is dope, the musical score is beautiful. Those are just the nuts & bolts of the film. If you want bloody violence, it’s there. If you want futuristic action, it’s there. If you want nudity, it’s there. If you want comedy, it’s there. This movie is HUGE in scope.
But, in order to be enjoyed, one has to engage in the film rather than passively watching it. As I said earlier, it depends on what you bring into it. What I admire so much about this film is its commitment to its artistic goals, and in its convictions. It is truly an uncompromising film experience that simply has to be seen.
Now, for the not-so-positive praise. For some people, this movie will appear to be trite. At certain points (more specifically, in the last 30 minutes or so), the movie lays it on a little thick. It’s all very nice, and full of “hope”, and “love”, and “truth”, and blah blah blah. I would’ve preferred if it wasn’t so ooey-gooey. However, I must admire a film for being undeniably hopeful in the midst of a world that is full of cynicism. So, I can relax that point.
However, there might be unintentional laughs during the movie due to some of the… um, make-up used for actors. You see, all of the stories feature the same cast of actors playing different roles, different genders, different races, etc. In order to do that, make-up effects were used. And, some of these make-up effects might cause little bits of laughter.. It’s almost distracting enough to take one of out the movie, especially during the more futuristic sequence… When you see the film, you’ll understand why.
About what I said earlier with the “bumper-sticker-esque” bits of wisdom here, that is mainly only in the last 30 minutes. It’s poured on pretty heavily like dumping a ton of salt on steak. And, it is almost enough to take one out of the film. It almost took me out of it, however because I was spending so much time with these characters in their worlds with their own stories, I wasn’t so much paying attention to the corny bits than I was marveling at the emotional payoffs that take place in the film. Every emotional beat the film has, it earns. And, you feel it when it happens.
So much nowadays, we see films that are generic paint-by-numbers nonsense that feels like it was pumped out of a machine. Not so here. What one must admire is that the film feels like it has its own voice throughout. There is never a moment in which it felt generic, or phony. It all felt very genuine and true to its artistic voice. How rare is that in a big budget hollywood blockbuster. For that reason alone, love it or hate it, IT MUST BE SEEN.
As for what I think, well… I love this movie, and will be seeing it again.