Monday, March 04, 2013

Cloud Atlas

Year: 2012
Directors: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer
Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, James D'Arcy, Ben Whishaw

Plot: Six stories set during six different time periods are connected with each other, every one of them a story about hope, freedom and love.

Review: On the surface, Cloud Atlas isn't an easy film to comprehend. For me, withstanding the first half hour of the complex epic was tough as heck, but once I settled in, it became more and more fascinating, and I just couldn't turn away till I saw it to the end.

The film is essentially six stories being told at the same time: in 1849, a young lawyer attempts to free a slave who stowed away on the ship he is sailing in; in 1936, a bisexual amanuensis composes a masterpiece while working for a well known composer; in 1973, a journalist finds herself in danger when she tries to uncover a nuclear corporation's dark secrets; in 2012, a publisher tries to break out of a retirement home where he is held against his will; in 2144, a female clone manufactured and trained as a waitress fights to reveal the truth about her existence; and in 2321, a goatherd from the valley strikes a friendship with a woman from a more advanced society. Each story, from the first to the next one and so forth, is connected by something, just like Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's film Babel.

It is to the Wachowskis and Tykwer's credit that the stories are properly told without losing their way amongst each other, though some people may find it a tad complicated. To keep the stories close to one another, the cast play different characters in each story, thereby maintaining familiarity. Best of all, each story is of a different genre. The first is an adventure drama, the second a love tragedy, the third a Bourne film type thriller, the fourth a comedy, the fifth a sci-fi action film with political undertones and the last one a fantasy. 

The cast overall are pretty impressive. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry were both excellent in each of their roles (I thought Hanks was awesome as an English ruffian) and share good chemistry on screen. Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent and Ben Whishaw are pretty good too, but special mention goes out to Doona Bae as Sonmi 451, the protagonist in the 2144 story.  Her part of the film happens to be my favorite as it is the most compelling tale out of the six. Hugh Grant and Hugo Weaving play various antagonists for all six stories and I must say they're both awesome.

The only drawback to this film is its length, which is a whopping 172 minutes. I figured the length was necessary to tell all the stories properly, but maybe a bit of editing wouldn't have hurt it too much. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Cloud Atlas very much, as it felt like one big adventure that didn't want to end.

It's an amazing film, very ambitious, filmed well in detail, filled with great stories and actors, and felt truly epic from start to finish. I recommend it. (4/5)

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