By Brent Glass (@BrentAMG)
I remember some time last year I saw the trailer for Cloud Atlas. It caused enough excitement that I pulled many of my friends into the lounge to watch the trailer. They all agreed: It was going to be a great movie. It created so much interest in me that I began to investigate it. I found out that it was based on a novel. For weeks I wanted to acquire it and read it, as I like to read novels before seeing the adapted films. However, the drive to read the book eventually passed as the semester, and life, unfolded. Until the movie came out. As I had been accustomed to seeing with many highly anticipated movies, it was receiving less-than-desirable reviews. Consequently, my urge to see the film diminished and I decided the viewing could wait. That is why I just saw the film.
After completing the film, one word came to mind: ambitious. The movie attempts to accomplish so much in just under three hours. (Needless to say, I will not be including a plot summary with this review.)
The first 15-20 minutes of Cloud Atlas dragged. It wasn’t because it was something that is the norm; this movie is certainly not that. Rather, it dragged because it appeared to be a typical science fiction film (just plain weird) that did not offer anything completely riveting or profound that demanded my attention. Eventually that changed, thank goodness.
It took me awhile to get used to the flow of the movie. That might be because there is an absolute lack of a “flow.” There are six stories told throughout the film, each of which take place in a different time period. The catch is that all of the stories are, in some way, connected. All of the main actors in the film play various characters. Some of these roles cross genders and actually surprise you once you realize who they are. SPOILER -> (Halle Berry is white in one of her roles.)
The crux of Cloud Atlas is that a person’s legacy, and love, ripple throughout time. When a person dies it is not the end, rather a door opening. It is not hard to notice the connection to the idea of reincarnation. Aforementioned, each actor appears in every time period. However, in every time period the actors have a different relationship with each other; the dynamics change.
I will admit the film was enjoyable. Many emotions were evoked in this production and the visuals within the movie were stimulating. I am not saying that it was great, just that it provided entertainment. I did appreciate how each of the six stories was essentially a different genre. There was action, comedy, science fiction, music, and mystery. By the end (as I suspect was one of the producers’ intentions) I felt that I had just finished something epic. (I use that in the literal sense.)
I have a feeling that this movie is much like poetry. Many of my poet-friends say that you take something new away from a good poem each time you read it. Additionally, poetry is open to interpretation, much like this film. I’ve made many positive points, but there was much room for development.
There had to be a less-confusing way to present the six separate stories. At times the concentration needed to comprehend the interwoven tales was enough to cause a headache. (Let me assure you, I am not saying that movies have to be simple, just that they shouldn’t cause physical pain.) Some of the actors’ talents were stretched pretty thin with some of the roles they played, especially, though not limited to, (SPOILER) Tom Hanks as an Irish gangster. Furthermore, some of the “sci-fi-ness” seemed to be present just for the sake of being strange…
Overall, I would say Cloud Atlas is worth a watch. Maybe two. However, I would not buy it for my collection. 7/10
Brent Glass is a Michigander who graduated from Eureka College in May of 2013. He spent time at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, IN (a non-partisan think tank) where he worked on political economy pieces for Detroit, MI and Elkhart, IN. Additionally, he spent the summer of 2012 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, working on social media management. Currently he is beginning a marketing project designed to expand the reach of Sagamore Institute and Eureka College, creating a social media management business, Connect You Consulting, and working full-time as a Management Assistant to the owner of a car dealership. He plans to further his education in the fall of 2014 in either public policy, political science or business.