‘Cloud Atlas’ a visually stunning disappointment
Cloud Atlas is a movie that takes you through six different stories set in six different eras. There are many incidents that seem to coincide as you take a glimpse into each storyline. The same actors portray different characters in each of the periods as they show you how everything is connected and that history has the tendency to repeat itself throughout the ages. Government interference, racism, love and courage are always present in our lives no matter how far into the future you look or how far in the past you research.
When I first saw the trailer for “Cloud Atlas,” my body ceased to function and I found myself enamored with the screen as the beautiful images and interesting sequences unfolded. There was such a mystery that surrounded what I had just watched that made me want to experience more. As a huge fan of “The Matrix Trilogy,” my hopes were set very high for a movie which I had only seen a tiny abridgement. The thought of our lives being connected and even influenced by different incarnations of ourselves throughout history was an absorbing idea that had me yearning for more.
The famed, Wachowski Brothers adapted “Cloud Atlas” from a novel by the same name written by, David Mitchell. Having not read this work myself, I have to imagine that “the book was better.” You, the viewer, are led through the six different timelines after being given just a brief minute’s glance of each story. It will take the first two hours of the movie for you to realize what is going on and that the stories share some similarities. It becomes apparent that each individual story is connected or influenced by another as you are coaxed into realizing that history repeats itself. A fine message, but you almost feel a despondent loss of hope for humanity as you have just witnessed the same events come to fruition from several points of view. The beginning is the end is the beginning as we see that many years into the future our descendents are all going to suffer similar fates.
I found it hard to connect with any of the characters. You are only shown a small window of each timeline per scene, which I feel made it hard to really follow them. Especially since the same actor/actress is in the next scene, but in a completely different outfit and era. There are many films that have successfully told a story out of sequence (“Pulp Fiction,” “Memento”) where it actually adds to the story. “Cloud Atlas” was not one of the ones that I feel pulled it off very well. There were several instances where it was imperative to the plot development, but being pulled from one timeline to the other felt unnecessary at times. There were sequences that felt vital to the plot, but as soon as you were into the scene and able to catch up with what was going on you were jerked into another story that may or may not have anything to do with what you were just experiencing. This made it very hard to sympathize with the characters. You just need more time to connect with them on a personal level in order to care what happens to them.
If you look back to any historical source, you see that human dialogue has undergone tremendous changes. “Thou art” has become “you are” and in some parts of this great land that speaks the same language it can even be “y’all are.” Every language has different dialects based on history and region. Understandably, there are several timelines taking part in several parts of the world in this movie. The problem is that you spend too much time trying to figure out what people are saying when they speak. This is especially “true-true” in the post-apocalyptic land that has us living like cavemen once again where the characters have reverted to a very childlike version of broken. The confab in “Cloud Atlas” is extremely hard to comprehend. Subtitles would have done wonders for this movie. The directors also spend a lot of time hyping up certain aspects of the film by placing an immense amount of importance on certain items and events, but then just drop it as if there was nothing important about it in the first place.
There was one storyline in “Cloud Atlas” that may have been the only redeeming quality to the whole debacle. There is one that involves a group of senior citizens and a lot of shenanigans including a senior citizen home escape and a bar fight. This story was also the most removed from the other plotlines, as it seemed to stand on its own and not be intertwined with the others. Not redeeming enough to make me ever want to see this movie again, but mildly entertaining at best. I consider myself a very open minded viewer, but this one closed some doors for me.