Cloud Atlas (2012)

So, since we’re all connected to one another, does that mean Hugh Grant is connected to me??!?! Yes!

The movie explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.

Most of you folks out there have probably been seeing loads and loads of advertisements and whatnot for this flick and are probably thinking, “What the hell is this about?” I’m pretty sure my synopsis up there didn’t provide any such help for you either so let me just start off by saying it’s about a bunch of stories that all take place during the past, present, and future, and all connect to each other in slight, little-clever ways. There, now you have it so let’s get on with what makes this film one that the common-folk will hopefully see. I highly doubt my review will do anything to change the opinions of peeps, but there’s always hope, people.

This movie marks the long-awaited return of the famous directing team, the Wachowskis, but it isn’t all about them the whole way. They also share directing-duties with Tom Tykwer, but that doesn’t matter because you can’t really tell who’s directing who as neither of them really have a distinct-style of film-making, other than using loads and loads of CGI in their works. Not saying that’s a bad thing but it’d be a lot more obvious if you had a pairing-up between two directors like, say, Martin Scorcese and David Lynch. One person would be telling a story about a bunch of mobsters going off to whack some guy, while the other person would be telling a story about boogie-men, Roy Orbison songs, and live-walking bunnies. Hell, now that I think about it, that would make a pretty cool-ass flick. Anyway, I am toates off-subject here. Back to the freakin’ movie at-hand.

From what I hear through the grapevine, the original novel that this movie is based off of, has been apparently called unfilmable, which makes the direction between these three seem all the more eventful in the long-run. There about six-different stories that are told here, and all seem very understood and easy to follow, where you don’t really ever get confused as to what story is actually taking place and what the hell is going on in each of them. All stories are pretty simple to follow and even though some of them may have goofy sci-fi shit going on, you still get the gist of what’s going on.

And what’s so great about all of these different stories, is that each and every single one is about as entertaining and interesting as you could get. Granted, not all of the stories hold your attention as much (the one that takes place in the woods where everybody talks like they’re from the South, during the 19th century), but they all seemed to keep me glued to the screen and provided me with the right ingredients to have a good time. They also all seem to have their own personalities where there’s one story concerning romance, one story concerning a bunch of slap-stick humor (and it’s slap-stick done right, mind you), one story concerning sci-fi, futuristic action, and even one story that reminded me a lot of Death Wish, with it’s cool, 70’s-thriller vibe. In a way, there’s something here that’s for everyone and if you don’t find one story all that intriguing  then you can always depend on another one to come right out, and sweep you off your feet to get you right back into what’s on-screen. Great directing skills from all three of these peeps and it shows you that these guys still have it in them to make an entertaining movie, even if it is almost 3-hours long. Yes, you heard me right, people. 3-HOURS LONG. Bring the red bull, you may need it. But yet, it’s 3-hours that didn’t feel like it at all, so maybe you don’t. You know what? Bring it just in case.

However, as entertaining and interesting as this whole film was, I still felt a bit empty at the end of it all. The whole point of this movie was understandable, and it was how we all the same, underneath our skin. It’s a message that does get drawn-out very well in this movie with certain stories relating and connecting to another in a very small-way, but that message didn’t have any impact on me whatsoever when the movie was over. Some of the characters in the stories I did care about, but not to the point of where I felt like I was going to cry my eyes out if they died or anything. Maybe that’s sick-way of thinking when you see a flick like this but that’s how it all went down for me. No emotional impact, no emotional connection, no nothing. It was just a bunch of fun, entertainment that kept my interest.

But somehow, I felt like the Wachowskis and Tykwer were going for me than just that, which is why I felt like I missing something at the end. The score did give me that epic-feeling in the pit of my stomach and had me look to the screen with wonder, but how the hell was I supposed to connect to characters and to a story through just plain and simple score-music? I don’t know what was wrong with me during the viewing of this flick, but if you expect a huge, tear-jearker, than you may have come to the wrong-place. Bad/sad stuff does happen, but never to the point of where I felt like I needed an extra box of Kleenex on the way home. Maybe that answers the question for ‘ya. So, for all of you Nicholas Sparks fans, don’t even think about going to this after a bad break-up and expecting to relate.

Most of the fun of this movie that I already alluded to earlier, is watching the ensemble cast and seeing all of these different roles they pick-up in each story. See, in this movie, instead of just having a star play one character, in one story, and having that be their own pride and joy, they all get to play another character in each and every other story and all have different looks. Some are goofy-looking, and some are pretty neat-o how they all pulled it off (make-up and costume designs are sure to get an Oscar nomination this year), but overall, they all will probably have you staring at that one character and thinking to yourself, “Is that Huge Weaving in drag?”

And yes, in case you wondering, Hugo Weaving does actually show-up in drag here and it’s fun to watch him play it too, because the guy plays a villain in every, single story. But he’s not the only one having fun out of the cast, because everybody else is pretty much too. Tom Hanks shows up the most prominently in this flick and plays all of these different types and roles that we have never really seen from the guy before and it just goes to show you why exactly this guy is the face of-Hollywood, in a lot of ways. Halle Berry is another one who shows up the most prominently in this flick and shows us all why she deserves bigger and better roles like the ones she has here. It’s been awhile since Berry has actually took a nice, juicy-role that spoke to her true talents as an actress, and thankfully, the time has come to where we see it finally and she handles herself oh so perfectly with every story.

Out of this whole cast, it’s really hard to decipher who has the more-difficult tasks at-hand here, but I will say that the one I was most impressed with was Jim Sturgess who held his own pretty damn well throughout this whole flick. Maybe the guy didn’t do an amazingly spectacular job, but after appearing in shit like 21, Across the Universe, and One Day, the guy took me by surprise by showing me the depths he has as an actor and I look forward to seeing what else he can do in the near-future with his career. Hopefully, just hopefully, he steers clear of those soapy, melodramas that always seem to plague young, good-looking guys’ careers like his.

It should also be as to no surprise that Jim Broadbent steals the show in every story he has, and the one where he and a couple of fellow old-timers plan an escape out of an old-folks home is definitely worth the price of admission alone. Basically, everybody you see on that cast-list up there on the poster, is featured plenty of times in this movie that will have you pointing to the screen a crap-load of times. But on a sad-note, the coolest Brit of them all seems to get the short-stick a bit. Yep, that’s right. I’m talking about you Hugh Grant. I want to see more of you buddy, so show-up in more stuff!

Consensus: Cloud Atlas is a very, very long movie that’s filled with plenty of stories, plenty of characters, and plenty of ambitions that it’s set for itself, but is also a very entertaining and beautiful movie to watch as it never really leaves you bored when it’s all over. It may not be the most emotionally-impacting viewing-experience you’ll have this year, but it’s a great watch that will probably take-up half of your day. But, in a good way at least.



  1. I haven’t been this excited about this movie as many others have. There’s just something about it that doesn’t excite me. I am still planning on seeing it tomorrow and now your review has me a little more assured. Good review man!

  2. I must admit, a 3 hour movie does not excite me, add to that the fact that the reviews have been less than kind and I am already feeling like this is going to be a bloated exercise in indulgence. Still, there’s the directors and that cast, and the production design looks amazing. Now comes your glowing review. Alright, count me in! Seeing it tomorrow.

    • It’s not all that terrible but isn’t all that perfect either. It’s just a fine movie that definitely tries to go for me then it ends up with.

  3. I was captivated! This is an ambitious and original premise–and I was hooked from the beginning. Whatever degree of emotional investment–as you stated–it is 100% entertaining!

    The fact that it is an independent production (despite all the big names) tells you how much Hollywood fears originality. I hope that it does spectacularly well and it proves that people will pay for fresh ideas!

    Fingers crossed. 😀

    • I don’t think it’s going to get many Oscar nominations, other than costume and special effects, because it doesn’t really seem to be kicking all that much ass in terms of box-office and critics.

  4. I am happy that it is getting some positive reviews. I will watch it this weekend. It looks so ambitious and visually spectacular. Hopefully, story will hold for 3 hours. That is a loong time. I seriously think that it is either going to be a spectacle or a train-wrack. By now, I almost believe it is impossible to be anything in-between. Let’s see How it goes.

    • It’s a long movie, but the run-time isn’t as scary as it may show-off to be. It works when the movies over and it sort of doesn’t feel all that long.

  5. I’m not sure I will be able to handle the long runtime. I found a lot of movies a bit boring this year that many loved (The Master, Holy Motors, Margaret, Amour) so I don’t think it suits my taste.

    An 8/10 from you means I may find it hard to leave out though!

  6. Ah, the mighty Cloud Atlas. I don’t normally get out to many new films, but this one is on my list. I’m hoping it doesn’t drown on its own ambition, but from the looks of things it’ll be okay. Cool review, Dan.

  7. This is a great review, Dan, even if I don’t agree with it a hundred percent. I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed The Cloud Atlas, and the three hours seemed to pass in a blink. I agree wholeheartedly that Hugo Weaving and Jim Broadbent give excellent performances in this movie, but I wasn’t quite so enamored of Tom Hanks or Halle Berry. As for the theme of the movie? I’m not sure they effectively communicated it. Still, overall, I thought it was a pretty good movie.

    • The theme is almost like how love conquers all and a bunch of other crap that I didn’t care for, I just wanted to be entertained and that’s what happened, thankfully. Thanks George!

  8. No emotional impact, no emotional connection, no nothing

    Yup. Sad to say. I think the fact that there’s SO much going on minimizes the impact of any one thing. You wind up not making the kind of connections you should….

    8/10 is spot on, and I agree with most everything you said! Good one Dan

  9. I thought I would either love it or hate it, and I actually came out somewhere closer to the middle. “Cloud Atlas” is very impressive visually: the special effects are stunning and the makeup is fantastic. The Wachowskis and Tykwer also create immersive tales and weave them together in a way that surprisingly makes sense. But I would agree that it’s very difficult to get attached to the characters in this film and thus to leave the theater with any serious emotional takeaways. For me that’s mostly because the dialogue is so hard to understand at points. Since you can’t figure out what people are saying, it’s hard to connect with them. When they are saying things you can understand though, it’s self-indulgent crap about destiny, love, and death that only feels important due to the intense score placed underneath it.

    Some performances are amazing: Hanks, Sturgess, and Broadbent, while others are really so-so like Berry’s. My favorite storyline involved Broadbent’s publisher who ends up in the nursing home. Absolutely hilarious and in my opinion, one story amusing enough to have stood completely on its own. I think we agree on the grade, mine would be a B+, I think comparable to your 8/10.

    • Pretty similar views we have here bud. And with good reason, it’s an okay movie but just not perfect and definitely has it’s flaws. Thanks Evan!

  10. It’s funny you mentioned Death Wish for one of the stories. Actually every story felt as if it was copied from another film. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Blade Runner, Amistad, etc. They seemed rather simple. This was disguised by the fact that they were spliced up and presented in parts, but I didn’t care for the way the narrative kept switching. Every time I started to get invested in one of the characters, it was off to a different era. It’s a shame because I really wanted to like this. The trailer looked so epic the way it covered time and geography. It was fun playing “guess the actor” with all the incredible makeup effects I guess. I enjoyed your review too.

  11. Thanks for the comment dude. Yeah, this was a bit too in your face- “we’re all connected” and probably could have used without all that exposition. I think we could figure it out ourselves. NIce review, probably the only time Hugh Grant would be a warrior with face paint.

  12. I had the same feel, somehow after the huge hype the movie created, i wasnt very convinced with the fact that i was left so empty by the end of the movie, as if i perhaps wud not have missed a thing if skipped this flick. And as i see, you had the same feel bout the thing. I so wanted another opinion bout the movie before i post my write up and now i am all convinced. There could be no better review than yours to clear my airs 🙂

  13. Great review. I also missed the giant emotional response while a friend of mine was truly impacted by the movie. I’m glad I’m not the only one who understood the movie but wasn’t captivated on an emotional level by it.

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