'Cloud Atlas' Review By John M

A Wonderully Made and Beautiful Film
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
Just like Branded and The Hunger Games before I had never heard of Cloud Atlas until I saw the trailer. I just wasn't on my radar, but then I saw the extended trailer three months ago and I was blown away by it. The scope and size of the film was astonishing and the unique themed story was really interesting. It also helped that the trailer had amazing music with it. Then there was the great cast with Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Keith David, Halle Barry, Hugh Grand and more. After seeing all that in the extended trailer I was hooked and Cloud Atlas was a must see film for me. Yet even after I saw the trailer I didn't know it was based off a book with the same name and authored by David Mitchell. I didn't figure that out till a few weeks later and finally picked up the novel about two weeks ago. I am just about done with it and the novel is really well written with a great set of stories that interweave characters and themes as everything is connected. I remember reading online that the author David Mitchell said that his novel was un-filmable, and I think I'm going to have to agree with him. The six different stories, the books massive scope and range of characters I really don't see how the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer could manage it and as it got closer and reviews came out they weren't glowing. Sure in general the film has gotten pretty good reviews but nothing glowing. Did that stop me from going to see the film hell no. Generally I don't listen to reviewers though when I went to the mid-day showing I toned down my anticipation of the film deciding not to get my hopes up. Did I enjoy the film is it any good? Keep reading to find out.

Coming out of the theater I would have to say that no it wasn't a great film. Coming out of the theater I think I would have given it 3.5 to 4 stars, but as I made my way home and began to think about the film the more I began to love the film. That rarely happens for me. When I leave the theater and think about a film I rarely like it more and more in fact usually my rating will go down a little bit or stand pat. Cloud Atlas is a wonderfully beautiful messy film. All right let's take a look at what was truly great about this film.

Cinematography (A): The film was beautifully made from Scotland to Germany the United States, Majorca and Hong Kong. The cinematographer and the camera men did an excellent job of capturing the beauty of the places they were filming whether it be from Düsseldorf and Glasgow, Scotland to Majorca Island (Which I had no idea existed until I stayed through the credits) to Hong Kong everything was filmed perfectly. The film should be nominated for an Oscar for this.

Makeup/Costumes (A): I never talk about this in my reviews. I might passingly talk about it, but never really call it out, but the makeup and costume work was brilliantly done for this film. The characters had to play multiple characters in different times and different sexes and I was afraid it wouldn't work, but it really did. In certain times I didn't recognize Tom Hanks until I looked closely at the character. It shows how good an actor he which I'll get to in a little bit. Hugo Weaving played a woman head nurse at an old folk's home and he was almost completely unrecognizable at first. If there are two categories this film should win an Oscar in it should be for Costume Design and Best Makeup.

Special Effects (A): The special effects were excellent, but we should expect that from a Wachowski directed and produced film. I've bashed on their directorial ability many times, but the siblings certainly know how to bring special effects into a film especially in Nea So Copros the city of the distant future. It was brought to life wonderfully as it was richly detailed. I forget all the names of the companies that helped bring this world and the rest of the film to life, but I believe ILM helped as did a company called RISE. Another category the film should be nominated for.

Music (A): I loved the music in the trailers and the music in the film was remarkable as it also played an important part in the score. The score was done by Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer. Tykwer also directed part of the film. I don't think I remember hearing to much about these men, but if I remember correctly Heil has mainly done music for television. The tone and pace of the music fit the film perfectly and was simply beautiful. I'm going to have to download or go out and buy the score for this film and it definitely should be nominated for original score heck I might even take this over The Dark Knight Rises score which I also loved.

Acting (B+): The acting by the cast was extremely good as I mention Tom Hanks great job with his roles. I'm not going to mention them all it would take too much time and space. One of my favorite roles is Henry Goose a doctor in 1850 who slowly poisons Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) to get to his gold he has in a chest. Of course Hugo Weaving plays a bad guy in every role whether it be from an evil father in law or a nurse or to what I assume is some kind of police captain in Nea So Copros. What I really need to talk about are some of the actors and actresses who I didn't recognize and I think most Americans wouldn't recognize and in many parts stole the film. First there is Bae Doona. She is a South Korean actress who I don't think as acted in an American film before and she did an outstanding job. She played three characters, but the one that stood out was her role as Sonmi-451. I mean if there was one character that stood above the rest it was Sonmi. She was the most compelling of all of the characters as an engineered worker of the future, and Bae Donna captured the performance perfectly. Another actor I had never heard of before was James D'Arcy an English actor along with his fellow actor Jim Sturgess. Sturgess was also out the most standout performances besides Bae Donna. His two best performances and roles were Adam Ewing and Hae-Joo Chang. Yes he played an Asian character of the distant future and performed it well. Yes the acting in general was performed extremely well, but two actors seemed out of place, miscast or something else I can't quiet put my finger on. Those two are Susan Sarandon and Keith David. I love the actor Keith David he's a good actor who's been in many films I've enjoyed but he and Susan seemed to have just been sleepwalking through the film being overshadowed by all the other actors.

Story (B+): I think this is what most people will have a problem with in this film is the story or better yet pacing of the film and how it was put together. The way the film bounced back and forth in time might have confused a lot of people. It wasn't a problem for me, but I can definitely see where people would have a problem with it. Most of the stories were well done, but there was one I had a problem with and that was the story called Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After which takes place in a post apoplectic world after the fall of civilization. It wasn't one thing that turned me off to this story it was a few things from the futuristic language I could barely understand and the plot that wasn't well flushed out it just didn't work for me.

Directing (B): This is what I had the biggest problem with in the film was the directing and editing of the film. I know they wanted to show how our lives overlapped and our choices in the past affect our choices in the future, but the bouncing around in time wasn't always the best and I'm sure will confuse people. I personally enjoyed it and think it worked better than having it be linear going from the past to the future. Then there is the editing the directors did which also wasn't great. I'm sure this film was originally more than three hours long and had to be edited out and blended together with each director directing one part of the film and it wasn't perfectly put together. As for the directors and the directing of the film it was well done. I know I've bashed the Wachowski siblings on the directing ability. After their great success of the Matrix they did the very disappointing and needless sequels and then the bad Speed Racer. The siblings like to go over the top and be grandiose, but they did a good job with the futurist world and their directing as did Tom Tykwer. As I said I had never heard of the German filmmaker before, but he did an excellent job directing primarily the scenes in the past. This was a very ambitious undertaking for the directors, producer and studio and I think it paid off well.

Author David Mitchell had said his novel couldn't be translated into film and after reading the novel I had agreed with him, but we were both wrong. Was the film a perfect translation no, but what novel is. Anyone who expects a perfect translation of a novel to film will be disappointed. Cloud Atlas is beautiful and ambitious film with excellent cinematography, makeup/costume design and special effects/action along great acting and story, and good directing. From what I've seen from other reviews no one hates the film. In fact I don't think I've seen a bad review. Most of the reviews say it's an average to amazing film depending on how well the story and characters captivate you, and they did for me. I highly recommend this film and the novel as well I don't think anyone will be disappointed.

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Comments (18)

  1. Geekster

    if you continue writing them...i will continue reading them my friend :)

    2 years agoby @The-Mudder-F-cking-Loud-KillerFlag

  2. Geekster

    @john-m i do not find anything wrong with a short review, based upon perhaps its audience reception and love and its gross and the popularity and creative nuance of it. Take Evil Dead; I would reel at such a short review of a paragraph or shorter (ARGHHH NOOOO!), but at such wits like comedy's or action pic's. I find no fault in a paragraph review, nor a sentence...:L

    And I never would oppose to a long review, as long as it is kept in toll. :P you can write a review @john-m for sure, and never lose sight of it...plus i couldn't give a sh*t about structure or freaking grammar...its a f*cking review...not an essay :P

    2 years agoby @The-Mudder-F-cking-Loud-KillerFlag

  3. John M

    @The-Mudder-F-cking-Loud-Killer: Yes I believe this is my longest review with I believe close to 1800 words. My review for The Hunger Games may be longer. I do try to keep my reviews between 1000-1200 words, but sometimes I get carried away getting passionate about what I'm talking about.

    Still thank you I'm glad you got through my review and enjoyed it.

    2 years agoby @john-mFlag

  4. Geekster

    Long review for a long film......and it is taking me a long time to finish my longggg review of the longggggggg film called CLOUD ATLAS.....but what a great review you never lose words or punctuation or a kinetic structure it keeps you reeling.

    2 years agoby @The-Mudder-F-cking-Loud-KillerFlag

  5. The Cryptkeeper: Resurrected

    @john-m Yeah, I'll probably do more research, look up trailers, and probably have it as a DVD rental, most likely.

    2 years agoby @cryptFlag

  6. John M

    @crypt: Thank I'm glad you like my film. It's a good film it just depends on how much you like it. As I said I haven't seen negative reviews. Reviewers either think it's ok to pretty good or great to excellent like me, which I think speak well for the film.

    2 years agoby @john-mFlag

  7. The Cryptkeeper: Resurrected

    But your review does make it sound interesting. Probably a DVD rental though.

    2 years agoby @cryptFlag

  8. The Cryptkeeper: Resurrected

    @john-m Great review. I actually had never heard of this movie, until reviews started popping up.

    2 years agoby @cryptFlag

  9. John M

    @Dark-White-Knight: Thank you I'm glad you liked my review and appreciate the comment.

    2 years agoby @john-mFlag

  10. Dark-White-Knight

    Greatest honest review, very detailed descriptions of the cons and pros of the film

    2 years agoby @Dark-White-KnightFlag

  11. John M

    @SherlockHolmes2009: Thank you I'm glad you liked it.

    2 years agoby @john-mFlag

  12. John M

    @the-movieghost: Thank you. As I said the jumping around in time is probably the only problem movie goers will have with it. I liked it, and I think it would have worked better then doing it the linear war.

    2 years agoby @john-mFlag

  13. John M

    @skywise: Thank you glad you liked my review. As I said if there is one thing you and other people might have a problem with is the jumping around, but it worked for me.

    It should get more then nominated for make up and costume design Cloud Atlas should win. I haven't seen a film this year that has been better in those categories.

    2 years agoby @john-mFlag

  14. the MovieGhost

    @john-m The biggest thing that kept me from wanting to see this was the jumping around. I never saw the extended trailer, all I've ever seen for this movie was a couple TV Spots, but it just looked so disjointed and confusing to me. Maybe I'll give it a look whenever it comes out on DVD/Netflix but for now... I doubt I'll bother.

    Good review also.

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  15. skywise

    @john-m hey great review. I read this book and loved the way the book was structured. Was hoping for it to be similar in the movie. i am hearing a lot of great things about the makeup in this movie and I would be willing to bet it at least get nominated for an oscar. I really cant wait to see this.

    2 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  16. John M

    Even now I'm think about giving the film 5 stars and I might change it to reflect that in the next few hours to day before I can't edit my review anymore.

    2 years agoby @john-mFlag