Cloud Atlas is a tale of six different time periods and people that connect each period together—or at least I think that’s the idea.
This is an epic film with an epic tale and an epic cast that epically failed to interest me for more than a few minutes of its nearly-epic three hour running time.
Here’s a film sporting the Wachowski’s, Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon and a multitude of others and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why any of them bothered.
The story is mess from start to finish. First of all, remember that we’re dealing with six sets of stories in six different time periods but most of the main characters in each are played by the same actors in different make-up. Second, the story bounces back and forth between the periods in a way that makes keeping up a real challenge. Just when you’re getting acclimated off we go to another setting. My first impulse was to suggest that the film would be far more approachable if the stories were told sequentially. However, I then realized that if they had done this the “magic” would be gone as the viewer would realize there really isn’t very much to any of the stories.
Worse, it’s a distracting film aesthetically. The actors often wear loads of facial applications and makeup and the effect causes the viewer to jump out of the moment to simply wonder why such a poor nose job was necessary.
Most worrisome is that, much to my utter amazement, the acting isn’t very good here. Tom Hanks is most notable in his effort. Nearly every character he plays is goofy and unbelievable.
Halle Berry fairs slightly better with a solid job in one period playing a 1970’s reporter. Jim Broadbent is always great but doesn’t have enough to do here. Hugo Weaving is the clown of the film and that’s a shame. Hugh Grant vies for the clown roll purely by accident and fails. Susan Sarandon is yet another mystery. She might as well be mute for all her characters bring to the story. I just don’t get it.
The story itself is a three-hour yawn. It wants to be epic but instead it comes off as entirely full of itself. The visuals are interesting but that’s about it. The message? Who knows. People are connected? Yeah, right. Pass the potatoes.
When I looked at my running list of the worst films of the year I was absolutely disappointed to have to admit that a few were more enjoyable than this. The Wachowski’s are industry rock stars. However, this marks their 11th film of which three are fantastic (Bound, The Matrix and V for Vendetta). I guess that’s still worth bragging about but the last one was now nearly 7 years ago. I have to ask if the gas tank is running out. I don’t think so but I now have serious doubts.