Let the record show that “Cloud Atlas” is incredibly ambitious
But does it really work? The film, which follows six different stories that cover more than 100 years, casts a few actors to play a role in each plot. Some have called the film brilliant. Others have been left scratching their heads. But is that what the directors wanted, or did “Cloud Atlas” take a wrong turn somewhere? We’re taking a crack at it.
Karsten Burgstahler: The movie never really fleshed out any of the six tales presented. Each one has a climax and a resolution, but they did not get the development they deserved. The stories were shells, not actual plots. Even with the film’s nearly three-hour running time, it wasn’t able to give enough character development for me to sympathize. The real point here is to show how each story is connected, but does it matter if I don’t care about the characters’ fates? Even though I felt the character development was shoddy, Tom Hanks and Halle Berry each gave wonderful performances.
Austin Flynn: There’s no way any sane human being should expect any of the six stories alone to have fleshed out plots and characters. Although the stories could be viewed as shells, the film’s setup justified each story’s shallow glimpse. One film quote says, “My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean Yet, what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?” It sums up the movie perfectly. Even though the stories may not be anything too impressive by themselves, together they make something that is surprisingly breathtaking.
KB: First of all, I’m not sane. What’s the old saying? The whole is only as good as the sum of its parts. Yes, the plot is ambitious. I’m not saying its not breathtaking. Breathtaking and coherent are two different things, as demonstrated by any Michael Bay movie. Don’t get me wrong. In no way am I trying to say “Transformers” and “Cloud Atlas” are even in the same league, but I think the Wachowskis became too caught up in their own cleverness.
AF:Multiple viewings would make the movie extremely coherent, but we are only getting a small glimpse of something truly genius because we watched it once. Something we can both agree on is production value. The film’s locations, acting, cinematography, music and especially pacing were all incredible. It is a hard feat to balance so many stories, and not only did they do it seamlessly but they did it cleverly.
KB: Yes, the pacing was excellent. I was never bored watching the movie, and that’s probably why I wanted each story to be longer. I’m not sure the movie will ever become coherent because I’m not sure anyone beyond the Wachowskis will ever understand what goes through their minds. The music was incredible and at several points moved me more than the action. The set design was also outstanding, especially during the futuristic sequences. The Wachowskis proved their sci-fi talents with “The Matrix,” and their lack of experience elsewhere shows through the other stories.
AF: If anything, this was a giant step up from the “Matrix” trilogy, although that says very little. I’ll take Tom Hanks over Keanu Reeves any day of the week, unless we’re talking about the “Bill and Ted” movies. Several actors played some roles more respectably than others, but for one actor to play so many parts in a movie is impressive. The last time an actor successfully took on that many roles was Mike Myers in “Austin Powers.” Come to think of it, that’s probably why the Wachowski siblings chose Tom Hanks for “Cloud Atlas.” He played six roles successfully in “Polar Express.”
KB:Ha! The actors’ commitment did impress me, but they didn’t seem suited in their roles. Tom Hanks really needs to work on his British
accent. I guess I was more impressed with Halle Berry because I thought her range went over a lot better than Hanks. But the most impressive was Hugo Weaving. He plays every time frame’s antagonist, and he’s downright menacing. Bravo to Weaving.
AF: Overall, “Cloud Atlas” is so much more than a film that should be seen once and forgotten about. My main problem was the fact that I knew I was watching something extremely significant, but I didn’t know why. It was a thrill ride one moment, a love
story the next and then a comedy about senior citizens, all while making philosophical comments about mankind and the cycles of life. I could watch this 100 times and get something new out of it every time. I absolutely adored the movie for that, even though I could understand why someone may get lost in the big picture that is “Cloud Atlas.”