Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cloud Atlas Review

After thirty minutes while watching Cloud Atlas at a theater, the lady behind me uttered "I can't take this. I don't get it; it's too weird." She got up and left. Yes, the first reel of Cloud Atlas is confusing. But it requires you to stick with it. That lady that left missed something special.

It's difficult to describe the plot of Cloud Atlas, which is based on a novel by David Mitchell. It features six stories that span human history. They range from a tale on board an eighteenth century ship to a twenty third century post apocalyptic earth.

Directors Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) have created a thought provoking, philosophical, epic science fiction movie. It's about humanity. There are emotions and traits that are common throughout time. Some are evil. Some are noble. Greed, oppression, courage, a yearning for freedom and love are the things that human beings share regardless of the age.

To make this point of the common traits of humanity, the directors used the same actors for the different roles. Tom Hanks goes over the top as Cockney mobster author, murderous doctor but is marvelous as simple futuristic goatherd once you get used to his somewhat silly language. Alan Broadbent is a tour de force as an unscrupulous composer and as comic relief, an elderly book editor. Halle Berry is best when she's more like herself as a woman of color than a twentieth century white Jewish woman. I thought Jim Sturgess was great in all of his roles from a nineteenth century merchant to a futuristic freedom fighter. The problems are the make-up. Halle Berry still looked black while playing a Jewish woman. Sturgess' Asian make-up was simply ridiculous. So was English actor Hugo Weaving's Asian character. You see the problem was that the filmmakers didn't do enough to cover up major features of the faces. You can't simply put an extra eye flap on people, give them black hair and make them look Asian. They have higher cheekbones. Berry probably should have had her skin dyed by CGI. I'm guessing the real reason why the directors wanted the actors to look similar to all the characters they play is to highlight the common humanity.

I left the theater thinking about what I had just seen. Why does man oppress each other through chains and economics. I also saw other things that made me feel hopeful about humanity. Love. Freedom. Courage. Cloud Atlas with all its flashbacks and flash fowards will confuse you. It will test your patience. But if you give this epic science fiction movie time, Cloud Atlas will be a rewarding experience. The grade is A.

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

It’s a nice way to spend 3 hours at the movies, but it’s also something that may not change your life, even though that’s obviously what the directors are going for here. Still, a great movie none the less. Good review Bernie.