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“Cloud Atlas” – Early Review (POSITIVE)

October 24, 2012

David Mitchell’s novel is an episodic odyssey stretching the tests of time (literally). The narratives for all six stories are simple, and yet how they’re all stringed together couldn’t be more complex. It takes a keen eye to see how familiarity between each timeline narrative. I recently finished reading the book and had mixed emotions of confusion, exhilaration, and amazement. Of course, it was the five-minute trailer that grabbed my attention regarding Mitchell’s book.

Andy & Lana Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer form an amazing collaboration of the high art kind. Adapting “Cloud Atlas” would be a test no brave filmmaker I feel could ever endure. Yet, some how the Wachowski’s & Tykwer found a way to bring this epic together. Perhaps the cohesive element was their only weakness, since it’s a film that’s extremely hard to follow along, even if you’ve read the book. But, the acting from the assorted cast is at high-level achievement, the stories are as strong as the book itself, and the final pay-off is one that will leave a crowd cheering and applauding.

My favorite line in the book: “An ocean is nothing more than a multitude of drops.” That’s a terrific description for the entire film. Everything in “Cloud Atlas” is connected: an 1849 diary, written by lawyer named Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) following an ocean voyage across the Pacific, to return to his loved ones; 1936 Belgium, focus on letters from a young composer, Robert Forbisher (Ben Whishaw) to his friend & lover Rufus Sixsmith (James D’Arcy); 1973, a thriller about a murder at a nuclear power plant and a female reporter, Luisa Rey (Halle Berry), closing in on blowing the whole story; 2012, a comedic farce about a publisher (Jim Broadbent) in a nursing home, vying to escape, regain liberation, and rekindle with his old love; 2144, a rebellious clone (Doona Bae) in futuristic Korea leads a revolution with the help of her rescuer & lover Joo Chang (Sturgess); and finally, a tale that stretches farther than the future could count, about a tribe living in post-apocalyptic Hawaii searching for answers about what their purpose is, Zachry (Tom Hanks) treks on a journey that will reveal answers he never could have ever imagined.

As you can see, the description for this film is, lack for a better word, complex. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all that the structure for the film may intimidate some folks. The early screening I was attending, nearly 20 people left during the middle of the movie, because it was just too damn smart for them. Here they thought they were getting a Halle Berry science-fiction movie, when that’s not the case at all. You’ve got an in-depth multi-character study lecture of the greatest kind, ranging all over the place. You’ve got a movie that’s several different genres rolled into one package, you’ve got the likable Tom Hanks playing a vicious villain in one story & a hero in another, there’s enough in here to make the generic moviegoers head spin like in “The Exorcist”.

If you are up for the challenge, “Cloud Atlas” is a monumental movie that will leave a great emotional impact on you. Even if the end of the film confuses you, you cannot help be feel an overwhelming sense of sheer ecstasy it injects into you. Some may call it pretentious, others will say that the movie is self-indulgent; honestly you can say that about any piece of art, not just film. If you’re not willing to open your mind, that’s fine, but the movie is accomplishing an epic story focusing on themes of love, power, life, and death.

The splendor of the imagery here should be acknowledged. It’s not very easy to have three directors working, collaborating on making a film that has a similar style, especially an esthetic one. I beg of you people to see this movie, not only is it a grand experience at the movies, but it’s by far one of the quickest three hours I’ve seen in quite sometime, and that right there is a major accomplishment.

GRADE: A-

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