'Cloud Atlas' Review By John M
A Wonderully Made and Beautiful Film
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.