“Cloud Atlas” astonishes

By Brian Duskey

October 30, 2012

[caption id="attachment_13439" align="alignnone" width="300"] Photo courtesy of imdb.com[/caption] With a near 3-hour running-time, “Cloud Atlas” may seem like quite the commitment. There are a lot of characters and several plots that are not told in linear fashion, but this epic is one of the most ambitious pictures in film history. Based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell, “Cloud Atlas” interweaves six different stories-- which take place during six different times-- into one giant narrative. With each of the stories being told at the same time, it can be a lot to take on and rather confusing, but it eventually pays off. Each individual story hits their plot points at the exact same time -- and when all of the stories hit their climaxes at the same time, it is completely thrilling. Tom Hanks and Halle Barry are the headliners of this well put-together cast, who all put on spectacular performances. With all of the actors playing several parts, the audience is shown the diverse range of the cast. With the assistance of make-up and some great vocal adjustments, they are able to convince us that these are completely separate worlds. Hanks will most likely receive a majority of the publicity for the film, and rightfully so, but the two unspoken heroes of the film are Ben Whinsaw and Jim Broadbent. Both are incredibly convincing and tremendously entertaining in their respected roles. They bring great sympathy to their characters while also pushing a realism that makes the audience realize the complications of the human condition. The cinematography in “Cloud Atlas” is also top-notch. There are several shots within the film that will have you whispering “wow” under your breath. It took a trio of directors to make this epic come to life. The two Wachowski siblings (Lana and Andy) and Tom Tykwer. It is clear to see the style of the Wachowski’s within this film because of its stunning visuals, but they did go overboard occasionally. In some of the more futuristic scenes, there were these outlandish laser gun fights and while they made sense, they didn’t necessarily match with the rest of the story. A majority of the film is about the emotions of the characters with some violence to portray the world that they were living in, but the pacing of the laser fights just came off as their way of showing off some special effects. While the make-up was convincing and stellar in most of the film, there were some scenes in which it was just distracting. The most glaring example was, once again, in the futuristic setting and Jim Sturgess was put into make-up to appear Asian. It is completely understood why this was done, but the end result was just too distracting. I didn’t see another Asian character, I just saw Sturgess with a strangely molded face. Despite the incredible performances, wonderful pacing and jaw-dropping cinematography, this film is still not guaranteed to please. Through process of it’s non-linear story, a lot of audiences may not completely understand the point to this film. They may not get it. If they do get it, it will be incredibly rewarding and overwhelmingly memorable. Nonetheless, give this film a shot and an opportunity. It is easily worth the $10. Even if you become one of the audience members who doesn’t completely grasp the film, you will still be rewarded with the experience of seeing “Cloud Atlas” in a theater. An experience to not be missed.