Film Review: Cloud Atlas
by Matthew Durham

I was ecstatic about this film when I first saw the six-minute trailer released. Normally a trailer doesn’t inject that much excitement into me, but I saw a ton of ambition. The storyline seemed complex and about issues and conflicts outside our natural understanding. Cloud Atlas looked amazing and it is amazing.

It wasn’t unexpected to see a good half of the critics didn’t take to Cloud Atlas, and those who did completely fell for it. Films like this bring to question the credibility of film critics. Websites like RottenTomatoes and MetaCritic help combine a critical outlook which helps consumers decide which ticket to buy. I don’t believe anyone in the right mind reads a single critics review and bases everything on that. At least people who know the internet well.

I read a couple articles about the divide of critics on this film and it seemed critics who hated it simply didn’t “fall for it.” It’s not always worded that way, but critics negate a film based on its ability to not completely encompass them. I have negated films that have failed to completely encompass me, but usually that’s a matter of preference and opinion. Cloud Atlas is the special case, in which you are either entirely encompassed or falling asleep in your chair.

I am a blogging movie-critic and if people read my articles I am grateful that they took time and value (or devalue) my opinion. But that’s what it is, my opinion. In the film there is a quote, and I’ll be paraphrasing since I can’t find the actual quote. Where one of many of Jim Broadbent’s characters talks about book critics, saying they read fast and arrogantly. Movie critics are the same. If I am watching a film there will be moments where I say to myself “I’m definitely going to write about that.” Having gone to film school and having a degree in this filed like other critics also brings up the question “How did they do that?”

My point is a professional critic or filmmaker can’t fully give their minds to a film and one’s who can are faking it. Looking at Cloud Atlas from differently perspectives such as its complex story, its eye-candy visuals, and its stunning make-up I can safely see I was encompassed and pleased. You will never find me reviewing a film saying that it tried to fool me. Films all do the same thing, try and tell you a story and show you something visual. If Cloud Atlas was trying to fool me, than I am a complete fool, because I loved this movie.

Enough ranting, more about this incredible opus. Every actor in the film is met with extreme challenges that they all successfully overcome performing roles of different genders and races. I’ll be honest when I say I don’t think much of Hugh Grant from his resume of D-grade romcoms, but he plays multiple roles here very successfully. But Grant like Keith David and Hugo Weaving are minor in this film, they are in each timeline and hold their own significance. Amazing performances come from Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent and Doona Bae. Bae is the films all-star in a role as an surrogate for a political conspiracy in the future.

Each of the six different stories in Cloud Atlas are entertaining and action-packed. Some are even funny. The point of the film is to see these characters in different lives through their mistakes and achievements. From their good deeds and bad deeds we see karma come into play. For those movie-goers who don’t like to intensely analyze the film there is plenty of eye-candy visual effects and action sequences to keep you company.

A thought-provoking, entertaining story with stunning visuals, an impressive make-up job, a fantastic ensemble of great performances and an editing pace the builds the puzzle perfectly. This film is fast and if you aren’t glued to the screen you may miss something even at 2 hours and 40 minutes. Overall, this is one of the greatest films of 2012 with an unmatched ambition and a showcase for all that is spectacular about the film medium. Go see Cloud Atlas this weekend, not Taken 2. 

Final Score: 4.5/5