Cloud Atlas tells 6 stories simultaneously interconnected through time and space.
Cloud Atlas is a narrative experience like few others. It's one of the best ensemble movies ever, and it's the kind of movie that instantly makes you think about the world and go out and run or write a play or do something with your life. It really makes you look at the universe in a whole new light.
It tells its 6 different stories from different eras(1849 South Pacific, 1936 England, 1973 California, UK 2012, Korea 2144 and a post-apocalyptic world), simultaneously, interwoven into each other seamlessly. This should get an award for editing because never has a story moved so fast and so tight through perfectly-timed transitions. You'll see parts of the future being foretold in the past and parts of the past being foreshadowed in the future. It succeeds in making this seem not like 6 stories, but one story told through countless characters and identities flowing through time and space. It gives a sense that all of this is happening at once, even though it's separated by millinia, and it could very well begin in the future and end in the past, or vice versa. It's exhilarating, and it's fun to see how it all fits together.
Anyone worried about the white guy being cast as an asian should simmer down and just see it, because that's sort of the point. They use a small cast of actors that repeat and play multiple characters through all the stories. White actors play asian actors, black actors play white, women play men, and men play women. It puts forth the theme that we're all connected, all going through the same story, all sharing the same experience. The make-up is miraculous and it'll be hard to tell who's playing who until the very end.
This is a movie with Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugo Weaving, so I think it goes without saying that it has steller performances from the cast. It's a different kind of acting though, instead of type-cast actors playing roles the audience is expecting them to play, they each have to be character actors for different kinds of roles. Sometimes for comedy, sometimes for action and drama; sometimes they'll play the villain and others, the hero.
Speaking of effects, the movie is beautiful. You can tell it's a Wachowski film. All of the eras look perfect and dsitinct for what they should be, whether it's high seas adventure or futuristic sci-fi. It's odd too, because it will seemingly switch genres from sci-fi action, to adventure, to comedy seamlessly. So don't go expecting sci-fi adventure, expect ALL OF THE GENRES. The score is also sweeping and fantastic.
Cloud Atlas is a wonderful movie-going experience that makes you look at the universe in a whole different light.
THE GOOD: Great effects, great story, great acting, great soundtrack, great editing, great make-up, unique experience.
THE BAD: Probably not what you were expecting, which is also a good thing.
THE VERDICT: $$$$$ See it! It's not just a great movie but a great experience, and one you definitely won't want to miss seeing on the big screen. It's a millennium sweeping adventure, something giant movie screens were made for.
MOVIES LIKE IT: The Matrix, Tree of Life, The Fountain
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: In the post apocalyptic world, Zachry(Tom Hanks) keeps Meronym(Halle Berry) from falling off a cliff. Is this to make up for something he did in a previous life? Is he getting deja-vu from something they both experienced? Or is this simply foreshadowing from their character's story, that's all happening at once?