Review: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas Images-03If you don’t know anything about the book, or the film, you might be tempted into thinking it’s going to be decent with high flyers like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugo Weaving. A film by The Wachowskis you say? What mind-blowing technological feats of SFX have they dreamt up now? Cloud Atlas is by no means a stereotypical Tom Hanks or, for that matter, Halle Berry film. But their collaborative effort alongside the superb ensemble cast makes this a good film. The CG-created sets, for the world of the future, are beautifully crafted and pleasing on the eye. Basically, the film is greater than the sum of its parts, with the best performances coming from Hugo Weaving and Bae Doone, with her naive Korean girl persona. Tom Hanks gets to play a variety of different characters along with a large number of British actors including Jim Sturgess and James Broadbent, adding much diversity to the film, which oscillated between serious and surreal.

The premise of Cloud Atlas is that seemingly unrelated events and lives throughout the ages are actually connected via the acts of courage or cowardice of a few before them. The actors play several characters in each of the six time zones and the rapid skipping between scenes, in order to set the framework for the film, was at first confusing by eventually made for a watertight visual experience. The revelation of the stories’ connections is both captivating and satisfying throughout.

It didn’t shove morality down your throat, but it does point out that morals do exist and are man-made. There are suggestions that humanity through the ages is the same as there has always been some form of prejudice.

“If God made the world, what are we able to change?”

This question is among other poignant ethics raised by the film, including slavery and how it is human nature to create such divisions. The film doesn’t presume to educate its audience or patronise them with such topics, rather it merely uses injustice through the ages to suggest our future might not be too dissimilar.

Highlights of the film include the revelation of how the scenes were connected, the gentle religious references like the death of a clone in the form of Jesus on the cross and of course the Scottish rugby fans fighting in a pub. The latter scene was irrelevant to the film but did add much needed humour that made the storytelling less full on. There weren’t many disappointing aspects of the film, except perhaps its length. There were times where certain scenes and stories could have been curtailed without loss of significant detail but perhaps it was playing true to the book? That said Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings tried that…

It’s not the best film out there by any means, its originality is somewhat tied to the book, and the great performances by the cast and a well produced film are the reasons the cinema score isn’t lower.




  1. Good review. I feel that the six stories were chopped up and presented in parts just to disguise the fact that the individual stories were rather pedestrian. It’s a bit uneven at times, but still very entertaining to watch.

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