While undoubtedly an incredibly beautiful film, I found Cloud Atlas wanting.  It was lacking a crucial element…I just can’t put my finger on what that is…

 

Cloud Atlas
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Xun Zhou, David Gyasi, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon

Premise: Cloud Atlas is hard to describe. There’s no clear way to pinpoint what this movie is exactly about. All I can say is at its core, Cloud Atlas is about how the decisions, actions, and consequences made in the past cause ripples that emanate to the present and future. It’s a story about souls feeling love, loss, hate, heroism, and evil and how their choices impact what their soul does in another time and place.

My Review: Once Cloud Atlas ended, I did not know how I felt about it. And I still don’t. The movie moved at a great pace, weaving through each story and handling them in interesting and captivating ways. Each story was strong (though I was partial to the Clone Story), detailed, and well-thought out and I was not disappointed when we left one story for another. The cinematography was gorgeous making each scene in the movie feel fantasy-like which really worked for the story. And the acting, most notably Doona Bae, Jim Sturgess, and Hugo Weaving, was wonderful.

However, I’m not convinced that each story, if told separately, would work. What worked was that each story was weaved with the same actors in different roles. That brought something extra to the movie. That being said, I definitely should  NOT have read the article about Asian advocacy groups being upset on non-Asian actors being put into Asian make-up, before I watched this movie. That article lingered in my brain and distracted me throughout much of the movie, make-up wise. As a Chinese-American, I get what that article is saying, but I also think it misses the point of the movie. It has to do with kindred spirits meeting again and again throughout different eras, races, times and places. The characters were spirits, not actors playing other races. I see how it can be offensive, but I did not take offense. However, I do agree with the article that the Asian make-up was distracting (okay, they used the word “bad”). I wouldn’t call it bad, but I definitely was aware of the make-up. Some instances it really, really worked. (See the end credits of which actor played which character and you’ll be amazed!), but other times, the make-up was just that, make-up. I will say this, the makeup wasn’t intended to be comedic, or degrading, or “look ma, we can do prosthetic make-up really well!,” it all felt genuine. And that was appreciated. And as I got more and more caught up in each story the make-up became less and less noticeable.

Aside from all the technical stuff, the movie is really quite good. At nearly 3 hours, the movie didn’t really drag (I only time checked once). I think the reason why I was so disappointed was because I was expecting MORE. I was expecting it to feel grandiose, and epic, and sweep me off me feet, but what I got was just a good movie.

 

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

 

Hugo Weaving Cloud Atlas

Tip 1: If you are going to see this movie IMAX is the best choice as sometimes it was hard to understand what the actors were saying (I’m looking at you Tom Hanks). I can only imagine how hard this would have been in a normal viewing. Oh and also everything is better in IMAX.

Tip 2: Stay through the credits. Since the movie had three directors (Tom Tyker, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski), there’s a lot of crew and it’s amazing to see how they arranged it, and all those people that were a part of it. That in itself was epic.

Tip 3: Tom Hanks has a role where he has a horrible irish accent. Or was it british? He sounded like a dying pirate. You’ve been warned.

 

 

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