MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Tom Hanks as VARIOUS
Halle Barry as VARIOUS
Jim Broadbent as VARIOUS
Hugo Weaving as VARIOUS
Jim Sturgess as VARIOUS
Doona Bae as VARIOUS
Ben Whishaw as VARIOUS
Keith David as VARIOUS
James D’Arcy as VARIOUS
Hugh Grant as VARIOUS
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski
“Cloud Atlas” available NOW on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and Digital Download
BY KEVIN CARR
“Cloud Atlas” is one of those movies that has always been a challenge. I have never read the book myself, but I am aware of the fact that it’s one of those infamous “unfilmable” books. Then, through development hell, it eventually emerged under the hands of the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer.
But even after the film was made, “Cloud Atlas” was a challenge with audiences. Even when I was reviewing the film on the various radio stations I speak with each week, it was hard to explain the piece when asked about “the new Tom Hanks movie.” It’s so much more than that. Hell, it’s not even close to that in the first place.
Sure, Tom Hanks was in the movie, and sure his characters span centuries and offer essential development to the overall story. However, it’s not anyone’s movie, and certainly not something that can be compartmentalized like “Forrest Gump” or “Castaway” was as “a Tom Hanks movie.”
I’m not a big fan of overly artistic movies, but I do enjoy much of the more cerebral work of the Wachowskis. Unlike someone like Terrence Malick, the Wachowskis speak to my sensibilities. It’s artistic filmmaking for a comic book geek and sci-fi fan, even though very little of “Cloud Atlas” could be strictly categorized as science fiction.
While I enjoyed the film in the theaters this past September, it was even more enlightening to watch it on Blu-ray. First, the transfer looks fantastic, which is often the case with the Warner Bros. theatrical releases. Like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” on Blu-ray earlier this year, “Cloud Atlas” has such stunning cinematography that it’s worth the extra money to see it in high definition. But unlike “The Hobbit” (and pretty much every other movie), the neatest part of the cinematography of “Cloud Atlas” is its diversity.
And that all goes down to the story. Yes, it’s a single story with six interwoven sub-stories, but the Wachowskis and co-director Tom Tykwer give us multiple genres as well. The money shots of beautiful imagery isn’t left exclusively for the futuristic sci-fi stories. There’s a lot of brilliant work done in other stories, whether they’re the contemporary jailbreak storyline with Jim Broadbent or the historic voyage at sea story with Jim Sturgess.
Even if you were not moved by “Cloud Atlas” in the theaters, it’s worth a second look. Yes, you’ll find pretention throughout (though not nearly as much as you’d find in another arthouse-style movie from the mind of Terrence Malick). However, you’ll find a deeper story and more connected characters than you might have in the past.
One additional benefit to home viewing, which is not uncommon to films nowadays, is the ability to watch it with subtitles. This becomes helpful with the various accents of the actors and characters, but also for the deliberate futuristic dialect of some of the storylines. And that’s the true-true.
“Cloud Atlas” did not make my list of 10 Best Films of 2012, but it did make the honorable mentions. Upon second viewing with some context I remember from seeing it earlier, it’s a stronger film and one I could watch a few more times.
The Blu-ray comes with a series of Focus Points in the bonus menu. This amounts to approximately an hour of behind-the-scenes content in featurettes, including “A Film Like No Other,” “Everything Is Connected,” “Spaceships, Slaves & Sextets” and “The Bold Science Fiction of Cloud Atlas.” These are excellent supplementals that offer new insights into not just the filmmaking process but the interconnectedness of the characters and set design.
For more detail on the plot and story of the film, check out my review of the theatrical release here.
For more information on the interconnected nature of “Cloud Atlas,” check out the inforgraphic below.