Cloud Atlas (2012) | Movie Review

Cloud Atlas.jpg

Release date: October 26, 2012
Runtime: 2 hr. 52 min. 
MPAA rating: R

Cloud Atlas is one of those films that will keep you thinking and trying to figure out the details for a day or two after seeing it. Sometimes that's a good thing, but sometimes it's just because you're confused. In my case it's a combination of both. Granted, reading the book would probably help clear up the confusion, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I definitely am interested in reading it after watching the movie: with a plot this complicated I can only imagine how much was left out to make it into a film.

Cloud Atlas intimidated me not only with the fact that it's actually six(!) different stories, eventually connected, but also with the fact that it's two hours and forty three minutes long. Of course, there are some movies that require to be that long, but in general I feel that if the story needs three hours to be told it either needs to be edited better or split into two parts. This was a beast of its own with all kinds of stories and that, oddly enough, made it feel like the film was not long enough. For my taste, the stories were too brief, some of them seemed underdeveloped and left things unexplained. I was also slightly annoyed by how fast the switches between the stories happened: as soon as I would "get into" what was going on I was thrown into a different setting. To be completely honest, I would have rather watched six different movies, each on the individual storyline, than all of them squished together into one. For at least half of them, there really wasn't a chance to get deep into what is going on and understand the characters, but for what it was the Neo Seoul story was absolutely my favorite. I would love to watch a film just on that one.

I was also disappointed because some great actors ended up being underused. Of course, who knows what was left out in post production, but I feel that someone as great as Susan Sarandon deserves much more screen time and room for character. Same goes for Hugh Grant. Someone on the other side of the spectrum was Tom Hanks, whose work I usually enjoy, but in a way I felt like his presence in Cloud Atlas was overwhelming. It was definitely fun to see him change between all of these different characters, however some of them worked better than others.

The visuals, on the other hand, were great. Each one of the created "worlds" was completely different and unique. Between the costumes, the makeup and the settings this was truly a magical time travel experience. Much like the visuals, I also loved the idea behind Cloud Atlas: the evolution of the soul, everything being connected, the same "group" of souls coming together time after time. I was, apparently, confused by the way souls were presented. My understanding after seeing the film was that the same actor being repeated was the same soul reincarnated and the person bearing the mark of the comet was a the "destiny changer" (I'm making these terms up as I go, they probably have better names in the book) or a "revolutionary" on some level, the important one. However, I was told that the comet actually marked the same soul. Why confuse people with all the actor repeats then? Did anyone else get this wrong like I did? I think my version makes more sense, at least when it comes to the film.

Did I love Cloud Atlas? No. I did find a lot of food for thought in it though and it has given me my next to-read book. I think a lot of people can enjoy this film, but everyone has to be mentally prepared to be confused for a long period of time. As far as ratings go it's still a 3 out of 5 for me, maybe 3 and a half even. I am still not completely sure what to make of this movie.

What do you guys think? Have you seen it? Are you planning to? Let me know!