November 4, 2012

Movie Review: Cloud Atlas

I see a number of reviews praising Cloud Atlas, with some proclaiming it one of the best films of the year. I truly wish I saw the same film. Well, of course I saw the same film but I did not see it quite the same way. I found Cloud Atlas to be dull and not involving on an emotional level. I think the latter is the more egregious problem I had. This movie, and when you see it you might understand what I am saying. I felt no connection to the characters or the story and it seems like an important element.

The funny thing is that Cloud Atlas seems like the kind of movie that should be right up my alley. This year, more than any other of my movie loving life, has seen my tastes change and develop. In many cases I have moved towards lower budget stuff, more genre stuff, and quite often away from the real life story and the typical Hollywood stuff. Not entirely, of course, but often. This movie is big, epic, and ambitious. It is likely one of the most ambitious productions in recent memory, plus very different than your typical Hollywood release.

Cloud Atlas is not a movie that can easily be discussed. I could go though character names and story lines, but I suspect it would just serve to confuse you. The movie is comprised of tales on six different times. None of these stories is directly connected with the others. With that said, a number of actors play different roles in each story, crossing names, gender, and race. The six stories were divided between the writing/directing team, with Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix trilogy) directing three and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) directing three. Each used their own production team with no members working both sides.

In all seriousness, I wanted to like Cloud Atlas. I wanted to be sucked in by the massive tale and the various characters whose stories are told in non linear fashion. It is a fascinating way to tell a story and one that does not rely on standard narrative tropes.

This is a movie, based on a novel by David Mitchell, is vastly different than anything that has hit nationwide theaters this year. It tells a variety of stories that have similar themes. Cloud Atlas is all about the big picture, the themes and meaning behind the stories more than the stories themselves. They speak to a connective tissue that runs through reality, spirituality, greater truths, whatever you want to all it that binds everyone and everything and speaks to higher ideals.

I am sure that multiple viewings will reward the viewer, I am just not sure I want to go down that road again. Sure, there are some really beautiful shots and Doona Bae (playing, among others, Sonmi 451) delivers a rather mesmerizing performance, but it never really connected with me as a whole. I know I shouldn't have been bored, but I was. On top of that, the movie plays out as something that requires a certain level of emotional involvement, and I felt none. I cannot say that I cared for the majority of he characters and this lack of caring kept me distanced from the events of the tale.

There is no doubt that this is divisive film making, and in some ways that is the best sort of film making. I would have preferred to be on he other side of the argument, but I am just glad there is an argument to be had. These three filmmakers went out on a ledge and made something different. They should be commended for that. I just wish it was more of a success.

This is not a bad movie, there is definite skills involved, not to mention a cast that seems to have bought in and gave it a go. There are a lot worse movies you cold support. Probably better to support an ambitious failure than another Hollywood hack job.

Not Recommended.

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