Centuries-spanning ‘Cloud Atlas’ a pretty movie, but long and confusing as well

Technical problems delayed the screening by half an hour.

But the faulty projector didn’t warrant curses or scorn. In retrospect, it deserved a medal. That selfless, heroic hunk of steel sacrificed itself trying to save us from having to sit through “Cloud Atlas.”

To be fair, “Cloud Atlas” isn’t a bad movie. It’s a lllooooo(inhale)nnnnnggg movie. One hundred seventy-seven head-scratching, bladder-testing minutes that feel like at least twice that.

It’s something to be endured more than enjoyed.

But it sure is pretty.

Written and directed by Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski (“The Matrix Trilogy”) and Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”), based on the novel by David Mitchell, “Cloud Atlas” tells the story of a handful of souls and how they change – for better or worse – over centuries.

As characters repeatedly say: “Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime, and every kindness, we birth our future.”

“Cloud Atlas” is essentially six movies – distinct in their characters, stories and styles – woven together to tell a larger tale.

There’s the historical drama set in the South Pacific in 1849, the love story in 1936 Scotland, the thriller in 1973 San Francisco, the comedy in 2012 London, the sci-fi adventure in 2144 Neo Seoul, and the post-apocalyptic tale of survival set on “the Big Isle, 106 winters after the fall” (which the press notes helpfully identify as 2321).

And pieces of the stories flow into each other.

The diary written in 1849 by a young attorney (Jim Sturgess) is read in 1936 by a young composer (Ben Whishaw), whose boyfriend and masterwork, “The Cloud Atlas Sextet,” turn up again in 1973. The 2012 adventures of a publisher (Jim Broadbent) are made into a movie that, in 2144, inspires a genetically engineered restaurant server (Doona Bae) to rise up and be worshipped as a goddess in 2321.

But it’s the central conceit of “Cloud Atlas” that ends up being both its most ambitious aspect and its most flawed. Each actor plays a variety of roles – Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Hugo Weaving turn up in all six timelines – representing that soul’s evolution.

Each of Hanks’ characters looks pretty much like Tom Hanks, with varying degrees of wigs and putty. He’s one of the most recognizable movie stars in the world, so no one wants to hide that light under a bushel. But the deeper you go into the cast, the more confusing things get.

Along the way, Berry portrays a German Jewish woman, Susan Sarandon plays an Indian man, and Whishaw and Weaving turn up as women. Chinese actress Xun Zhou plays a man, while Korean-born Doona Bae takes turns as Hispanic and Caucasian women. Berry, Sarandon, Grant, Weaving, Sturgess, Broadbent and James D’Arcy all portray Asian men. And Grant shows up in 2321 looking like the bass player in a GWAR tribute band.

The problem is, virtually none of these characters looks like an actual person.

Rather than paying attention to the story, you’ll probably spend too much time trying to suss out who’s buried beneath this or that blob of latex – or being distracted by other moviegoers as they announce their guesses.

That’s just one more complication for a movie that’s already asking audiences to adapt to the mental whiplash of a story that careens back and forth across centuries and dialects, including a nearly indecipherable language in 2321, best described as Space Cajun, that leaves Hanks and friends muttering about “the true true.”

You’d have better luck comprehending a conversation between Bane from “The Dark Knight Rises” and Honey Boo Boo.

Makeup aside, the production values are top-notch, offering such whiz-bang visuals as 19th century ships at sea and chases high above a stunning Neo Seoul.

And it’s an admirable effort by everyone involved.

But for a movie built on the ways love can endure throughout time, “Cloud Atlas” is remarkably short on heart.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@
reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like