Cloud Atlas (2012) (Blu-ray/DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy Combo Pack)

Re-incarnation links us to one another, there is no free will, we’re bound to one another in an endless stream of dilemmas we’re fated to live out. We can change it if we so choose, but it is incredibly difficult to defy fate. It takes almost three hours to spell out those very messages to the audience, and what a three hours it is. “Cloud Atlas” has a lot of ambition, with a hefty helping of self-importance to add to its genres, but it does very little to convince us why we should care. About anything in this movie. There are multiple storylines, but I never found myself empathizing with anyone really.

It’s all so unnecessarily gaudy and over produced that I was more distracted by the spectacle than I was by the attempts at humanity that seeped through every crevice of the narrative. It’s an exercise in monotony, as the Wachoswkis explore the very same themes they did in the “Matrix” trilogy. Free will. Fate. Destiny. Varying degrees of outcomes. Do we ever decide our fates? It’s all so dull and tedious that after the first hour, I was ready for it to all come to a grand close. I for one am a lover of philosophical ideas involving the endless stream of time and how we eventually meet one another again in the next life. Re-incarnation is an interesting idea, but “Cloud Atlas” handles it so poorly it’s tough to endure anything that happens. Even when we’re watching a huge chase in a futuristic city, and a massive shoot out as two lovers try to make it across a narrow bridge, I could barely muster up a yawn during it all.

There’s the tale of a young prostitute bound by his musical master, there’s a young Asian slave being freed by a freedom fighter, a young Englishman helping a slave fight for equality aboard a sea vessel, it’s just an endless series of tedious sub-plots, that intertwine without any rhyme or reason. There are hints of parallels here and there with the underlying theme of slavery and free will, but it never evolves in to anything but over indulgent tripe that fails to be dynamic or entertaining in the least. The Wachowskis have an enormous directing style here, providing some unusual contrasts between worlds, as well as offering bits and pieces of interesting dilemmas, but nothing ever forms in to a coherent film.

The performances are mostly phoned in, save for Tom Hanks who seems to be forcing much of his various characters and accents for the sake variety. He can’t really sell these different men, and it’s tough for him to really disappear in to the goofy make up and prosthetics. The Wachowskis handled the meaning of alternate fates and free will better in their “Matrix” sequels, and those were barely as entertaining as “Cloud Atlas.” I really wanted to view this adaptation as something of a masterpiece, but in the end, it’s a convoluted and meandering mess with too much happening, and yet nothing is ever quite gained from its viewing experience.

The Blu-Ray/DVD features a slew of bells and whistles, if you’re willing to come out of your coma to watch them. There’s the seven minute “A Film Like No Other” which is a glorified promo for the film, where members of the cast talk about filming, and the meaning of the film’s sub-plots in a nutshell. “Everything is Connected” is an eight minute look at how the parallel storylines intertwine and what they carry in similarities and differences. “The Impossible Adaptation” is a nine minute look at how difficult it was to film this once unfilmable novel from David Mitchell.

“The Essence of Acting” is a seven minute look at the various cast members and how they approached their roles of villains and heroes. “Spaceships, Slaves and Sextets” is an eight minute look at the multiple plot lines and the difficulty assembling all the pieces for one large epic. “The Bold Science Fiction of Cloud Atlas” is a seven minute exploration of the science fiction aspect of the film. Finally, “Eternal Romance” is an eight minute look at the romantic aspect of the film and how it progresses through the ages in this narrative.

Buy It Now!

  • Cerone

    BS review.

  • Nite Owl

    I found the make up efx very distracting, and in some cases just plain terrible. Like when they tried to make Caucasian actors look Asian, or vice versa. It was like the equivalent to black face in just how bad and off-putting it could be at times. I thought Hollywood learned their lesson about that kind of thing when The Duke played Genghis Khan? I liked the segments with the English guy trapped in the retirement home though, I could watch a whole ruddy movie just based on that alone.

    • I enjoyed the segments with the old folks home, too. I’d have seen a movie on those segments or the freedom fighter helping the Asian slave escape.

      • Aztekk

        The fact that theyre all linked together makes 10x better than 2 standalone movies

  • Ginger

    Horrible film .

  • Michael H. Smith

    This review doesn’t really explain its opinion; it simply states its opinion and leaves it there. I only come away feeling that you didn’t like the movie, but without any conviction or deeper introspection as to why you feel this way. “…it’s just an endless series of tedious sub-plots, that intertwine without any rhyme or reason.” Why are they tedious? You simply state it and then leave it at that. I found there to be tremendous rhyme and reason, especially as the film keeps suggesting that each story is informing the one that comes after it, that these people keep affecting one another’s stories in seemingly slight yet important ways (i.e. Luisa Rey coming into ownership of Sixsmith’s letters to Frobisher lead her to resolving her own struggles with the Swannekke plant, Cavendish’s reading of the Luisa Rey novel engages his own sense of heroism, etc.). I think a problem a lot of people had with this film is that it was so grandly, epically mounted but was a lot more subtle in the particulars and in the manner of its telling than expected.

    • FlixtheCat

      I found it more heavy handed, than subtle. And why lay out why the sub-plots are tedious? There are about ten sub-plots whole. Imagine how long that review would be.

      • Michael H. Smith

        There are 6. The production itself is grand and heavy handed but the stories and ways the characters relate are where the subtleties lie. It looks like a special effects, action extravaganza but the stories it tells are about the gradual, interior changes people make as they go through life. That dichotomy I think made some audiences squirmy.