Sunday, November 24, 2013

#tbt Cloud Atlas review: A Revisitation

Even after my second viewing, this movie is still more confusing than a Rubik's cube wrapped in a puzzle box.
I saw Cloud Atlas about a year ago and felt very underwhelmed. I thought it too syrupy and strange to really like. I thought it was alright, but it didn't have a lasting effect on me. The mixed reviews convinced me not too go back for a second viewing. I soon forgot about the film. Yet, after a while I started to see some adamant defenses of the movie, the late Roger Ebert even gave it 4/4 stars. I figured I might as well give it another shot. I am quite glad I gave it another shot. Cloud Atlas is the most wonderfully confusing, yet fulfilling, movies I've seen in a while. For some reason the second time it really clicked. Maybe it's because I payed more attention, or maybe I just wasn't in the proper mood the first time. Point is, I really did benefit from a second viewing. Which is why I'm writing this review now, to give you my fresh opinion. Usually I give a plot synopsis in my reviews. I won't give one here, it'd just be too lengthy and confusing. What I will tell you is the movie is a series of six stories intertwined into a movie. The stories are definitely connected somehow, possibly through some external force or maybe reincarnation, but I'm not completely sure. Cloud Atlas is a movie where you have to pay very close attention. Look away for a minute and you'll miss some very big, and sometimes small, information. On my first viewing I thought I completely understood the film. I couldn't have been more wrong. On my second viewing I realized I had dismissed and just missed so many important and integral parts of the movie. I now know a third viewing would do me good, but I honestly don't think I'll ever truly understand this. Then again, that's sort of the beauty of Cloud Atlas. It's this crazy dream with so many crevices containing extra plot points and little cameos and things. I feel I could get something new each and every time. The story isn't the only good part of the film. There are some truly terrific performances here. Every actor plays a multitude of characters so there's a lot of room for experimentation and talent. Tom Hanks plays some of the better characters. Particularly a lying greedy doctor in 1849 and a heroic native on a post apocalyptic island among other characters. Jim Sturgess and Ben Whishaw are also both quite good. The real star here is the effects and camerawork. There are some really astounding shots here. The future segment in Neo Seoul is one of the more beautiful things I've seen in film since Life of Pi. I just don't understand why a movie so intricate and awesome as this got a total of zero Oscar nominations last year. Cloud Atlas is a dreamscape mixed with mythology and a little bit of epic thrown in there. It's extraordinary. It's not all perfect though. The movie is about three hours long. Most of it is really exciting and thought provoking, but it does drag at times and I feel like at least a good fifteen minutes could have been cut out. Although it wasn't a bad idea to have three directors to do this, I feel like the Wachowski siblings were perfectly capable of doing it all themselves. Nothing against Tom Tykwer, but it's obvious whose the more talented directors here. Of course The Matrix was great (I'm actually a fan of all three as strange as that sounds), but a lot of people lost hop in the Wachowski's after Speed Racer. Cloud Atlas shows not only that they know what they're doing, but that they cans still make an awesomely complex tale that transcends time and reality. Even knowing that I'll probably never really understand this film, I can take comfort in the fact that it's well done and just very interestingly cool in it's own way. If you've seen the movie, regardless your opinion, I urge you to see it again. I'll probably see it at least two more times before I can really be done with it. I feel like Cloud Atlas is slowly working its way into my list favorite movies. Strange, philosophical, and just overall awesome; I'd recommend it. As always, Happy Viewing and Happy Throwback Thursday! Also, sorry that I'm not putting this up on a Thursday. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at!  


  1. Nice review, Whit, and glad to hear you liked it this time around. And yeah, you aren't too far off with that Rubix Cube analogy, as watching this movie is very reminiscent of putting together a really big and confusing puzzle. But once all the pieces fit together, boy are you left with a feeling of satisfaction. I loved this movie, and it was one of the absolute best I saw last year.

    And you're damn right this thing got snubbed. If nothing else, this movie deserved a nomination for the ridiculously fantastic makeup job in this thing. The rundown on which actors played which characters throughout at the end left me SHOCKED at times, lol!

    1. Thanks man. You're completely right. This movie was nothing short of genius. Although I still don't fully get it, I think a few more viewings would be to my advantage.