¨I´m just trying to understand why we keep making the same mistakes over and over again.¨
Many critics have called Lana and Andy Wachowski´s new film, Cloud Atlas, ambitious and pretentious, but in my opinion it is a well made sci-fi film that is ahead of its time. Probably on a much lesser scale than 2001 or Blade Runner, but this film seems to have all the elements needed to become a cult film over time. Cloud Atlas is one of those movies you have to pay close attention to in order to understand where the plot is heading; it is definitely not for the casual viewer. It requires your time and patience, but if you stick with this film you will be rewarded by the end. This is by no means as good as Wachowski´s The Matrix (although it tries to remain philosophical), but it is much better than their recent work. Tom Tykwer (The Perfume) co-directed the film with the Wachowski siblings and it is without a doubt his best work yet. The film is unlike any other movie you´ve seen before as it connects six different stories over several centuries and connects them in some way or another. You could say it is kind of like Magnolia, but those stories take place during a similar time period, here the connections take place during the past, present, and future. Two parallel filming units were required for this monstrous production as the siblings directed three stories and Tykwer the other three. Cloud Atlas is based on David Mitchell´s award winning novel, and it was no easy task adapting it for the big screen. I think that their effort will be rewarded over time as it has the potential to become a sci-fi cult film.
The plot is a little difficult to explain as there are six separate stories happening over different time periods and in a way every story connects and overlaps with each other. The movie switches between one scene that can be taking place in 1849 to another in the post apocalyptic future. The first story takes place in the Pacific Ocean in 1849 as Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) is keeping a journal of his voyage while battling some sort of illness and being attended by Dr. Henry Goose (Tom Hanks), and at the same time helping a former slave, Autua (David Gyasi), escape from his oppressors. The next story takes place in 1936 as the composer Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw) is corresponding with his former lover, Rufus Sixsmith (James D´Arcy) about his experience working for the world famous composer Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent). In 1973 the story centers around a journalist named Luisa Rey (Halle Berry) who is investigating a murder that took place in a nuclear power plant. In 2012 a publisher named Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent) gets hoaxed by his brother and is forced to live in a nursing home while he makes plans to escape. In 2144 a clone known as Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae) participates in a revolutionary underground movement in New Seoul under the guidance of Hae-Joo Chang (Jim Sturgess). And finally in 2321 Zachry (Tom Hanks) is living somewhere in post apocalyptic Hawaii in a tribe that is being threatened by the blood thirsty Kona Chief (Hugh Grant). Every story is interconnected with each other as the actions of each individual impact one another in different time periods kind of like in a ripple effect.
The complexity of each story is the reason why the film is almost three hours long, but if you pay close attention and don’t get lost with all the flashbacks and flash forwards you might just enjoy this film. Cloud Atlas is pretentious for many because it is a little philosophical as it explains how we seem to cross our paths over and over again. Every actor in this film plays several different roles (as many as six) and we can see how each one shapes his or her future depending on the actions they take. The way the film was shot allows for the audience to experience a little sci-fi action (2144 segment), some comedy (2012 nursery home escape), some retro mystery (1973), and even romantic tragedy (1936). That is why this film is one of its kind. The sci-fi scenes were spectacular and the designs quite visionary in style. The film, although very exhausting, is exiting; and I had a great time. I understand why this is such a divisive film considering it is so complex and epic at the same time. The film does feel a bit disjointed and disconnected at times, but when it seemed to lose me it got right back in track again. I think this film was quite original and is worth your time if you are willing to put your mind to it. The performances weren’t as strong as I would have liked, but it is a difficult task to play six different characters at once. By all means check Cloud Atlas out; you will either love it or hate it.