The upcoming Cloud Atlas film is the big screen adaptation of the best-selling sci-fi novel written by David Mitchell.
Cloud Atlas was directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and the Wachowskis of The Matrix fame. The nearly three hour epic stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Hugo Weaving.
Although Cloud Atlas isn’t due in theaters until October 26, the first reviews from the Toronto Film Festival are now in, and so far early word is mixed. On the positive side, Variety called Cloud Atlas an “epic, absorbing” film, “an intense three-hour mental workout rewarded with a big emotional payoff.”
While you get the impression what the film is ultimately trying to say is up to the interpretation of the viewer, as the Variety review tells is, Atlas “suggests that all human experience is connected in the pursuit of freedom, art and love.”
Cloud Atlas takes place over a period of hundreds of years, with the cast members playing multiple characters who interconnect with each other throughout time. The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “The sky’s not the limit in this well made but dramatically diffuse arthouse blockbuster…”
The Reporter felt the film isn’t “quite soaring into the heavens, but not exactly crash-landing either, Cloud Atlas is an impressively mounted, emotionally stilted adaptation of [the] bestselling novel.” The Reporter also called it “hugely ambitious,” that’s a given, it’s also “parts Babel and Tree of Life, parts Blade Runner, Amistad and Amadeus.” Now if that’s not ambitious, I don’t know what is.
At the same time, The Reporter feels the movie “yearns to be both arthouse and blockbuster, yet can’t seem to make up its mind…there are so many characters and plots tossed about that no one storyline feels altogether satisfying.”
The most negative of the early reviews so far comes from Indie Wire which calls the film, “bold, messy and disappointingly unimaginative.”
Indie Wire added, “You certainly have to give the trio of directors some respect for their approach which tag teams an all-star cast, gives them multiple roles and spreads the story across nearly half dozen time periods. But for all their boldness in narrative approach, Cloud Atlas is also a mess, with an attempt to mix its various genres under a universal thematic banner that never quite coheres.”
Perhaps there’s too much to take in at once with Cloud Atlas, and may require some time before it grows on people. Those end up being some of my favorite movies, the ones I’m not so sure about at first, but little bits and pieces keep popping up in my memory, then I go back to the movie and love it.
Whatever the final verdict is with Cloud Atlas, I agree that you have to admire Tykwer and the Wachiowskis for tackling something like this that’s not the usual cookie cutter blockbuster nonsense, ’cause let’s face it, do we really need more Fast and Furious sequels?