“Cloud Atlas” is one of those rare films that people will either unconditionally love or absolutely hate. There is no middle ground when it comes to a movie like this. In fact, to even call it a “movie” would be an injustice. “Cloud Atlas” is, if anything, an experience.
Directed by Tom Twyker and the Wachowski Siblings (the directors of the “Matrix” trilogy), “Cloud Atlas” is not just one film but six films woven together into an epic story that spans centuries. The film jumps between six time periods, ranging from the 19th century South Pacific, 1930s Europe and 1970s America to present day England, a futuristic Asia and a post-apocalyptic Hawaii. Each period reflects a different genre, including period pieces, historical drama, mystery, comedy and hard science-fiction.
The central premise is that everyone is connected in ways we can’t even begin to imagine, as souls are reincarnated across time and space into new bodies, and events in one period influence people in the next.
While the idea is brilliant, the film gets a confusing start as all six periods are established at once. It may be too much information for some, but around the halfway point all the stories are fully realized and the real fun begins: pointing out the connections between eras.
An all-star cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Hugo Weaving appear in each segment, sometimes as the main characters or supporting ones, and sometimes even of different races or genders. The makeup used to make these actors disappear into six different roles is astounding and even Oscar-worthy, and the actors themselves are fully committed to every role they play.
The film runs almost three hours, but a surefire pace and the constant jumping ensure nothing is ever boring. With great performances, action, cinematography and a fun collection of stories that, taken as a whole, are both intelligent and deeply moving, “Cloud Atlas” is a movie-going experience that shouldn’t be missed.