Saturday, 22 December 2012

Cloud Atlas

6 stories spanning into the distant past and even more distant future. The people who shape their present, not realizing that they actually shape the future for many years and generations to come. An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution. And simply a new movie from Wachowski, who gave birth to the Matrix, which became philosophical thought for many film-goers for years to come just as Star Wars did.

Movie from the acclaimed brothers (one of whom has become sister in the process)? 6 actors playing in 6 stories changing the roles? It must be amazing, especially given the fact that it is based on a book, thus ensuring a very strong script and underlying idea, right?

Well, the concept part of the movie indeed does not let down. Simple and beautiful idea of repercussions of even the smallest acts of kindness, which was explored by too many stories (including Lord of the Ring and Harry Potter), gets depth and pathos as never before. Forget about the Butterfly Effect – this story has bigger span and truly epic scale. Be prepared for the stories to be mixed up and carved out to fit each other neatly despite the time span of several centuries. Be prepared to feel involved in the massive melting pot of centuries and generations of people.

The actors took the pathos of the story too close to the heart. The expressions of importance and the messiah status never leaves their faces. Slowly speaking Tom Hanks, never- smiling Halle Berry, super-serious Hugh Grant, strict Hugo Weaving, scared Doona Bae and long-suffering Jim Sturgess exchange roles as if they lost track themselves as to who they are playing and what exactly they are supposed to do. The only bright spot is Jim Broadbent, who shines with genuine emotions throughout his main story. Otherwise, the actors’ play is pathetic and painful to watch.

And here comes the main problem of the whole movie. Never mind the crazy illogical and counterintuitive way of mixing up the stories together to try to make them coincide in their suspense at the same time. Never mind the lack of catharsis which is the direct result of problems with the story mixing up. The real problem is that the underlying story is so much richer, it has so many deeper flows and interesting characters, that even though Cloud Atlas runs at a whopping 3 hours, it attempts to tell all 6 stories at once and fails to tell a single one to the satisfactory level. All stories are crumpled, none of the characters are explained and shown fully; there was enough material to make two or even three movies, keeping suspense and yet managing to follow the characters around, but in the rush to press the story into one film the fabric the narrative was lost.

This is particularly evident in the New Seoul story. The surroundings are so sleek, the plot is so fascinating, the pace is great and the characters are so interesting that it is only natural to beg for more of it. It feels like a trailer to new the Matrix-meets-Tron movie, astonishing in the visuals and spectacular in the narrative – but no, it is the full length and the authors will not give us more.

Cloud Atlas ends up to be a movie about everything and about nothing; an empty film with a fascinating idea lurking behind; great story masked by sloppy acting and screenplay. Shame, really, as expectations could have easily been met, especially given the experience of the directors.

Book is probably better.

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