Future. Present. Past. Everything is connected. 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.The story is a time-shifting weave of six interlinking narratives, with diverse settings from the savagery of a Pacific Island in the 1850s to a dystopian Korea of the near future. Based on the New York Times best-selling novel "Cloud Atlas" written by David Mitchell.
You've got to give it up for a movie that goes the big-canvas route and then some: Cloud Atlas is a mega-project, a star-studded near-three-hour opus that reaches for deep metaphysical meaning. And instead of one story, the movie adapted from David Mitchell's novel features six interlocking narratives, ranging from a 19th-century seafaring yarn to a pair of futuristic dystopias (one high-tech, the other a postapocalyptic return to barbarism). To emphasize the themes of eternal recurrence and transmigrating souls, the hard-working actors play multiple roles across these timelines, so you get to see Tom Hanks and Halle Berry et al. ensconced in a variety of makeup and prosthetics. This includes casting across gender and race, which means if you've ever wondered how Hugo Weaving would look as a tough female nurse, or Jim Sturgess as an Asian action hero, this is your chance. (Coming across best are a sprightly Jim Broadbent, a mournful Ben Whishaw, and a genuinely haunting Doona Bae.) This tapestry is so large it required three directors: Andy and Lana Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer, who applied all their talent to a project that, the more it goes on, begins to resemble a kind of glossy New Age seminar complete with chase scenes. Cloud Atlas is often fun to watch just for the sheer ambition of it, in the way you'd watch a circus act full of dangerous stunts… but nonsense dressed in highfalutin clothes is still nonsense, and in the end the approach feels more than a little silly. --Robert Horton