Cloud Atlas, based upon a 2004 novel of the same name, features fantastic performances from its cast and a powerful message that will resonate with viewers as well as get them thinking. The film’s runtime is lengthy, and it over-complicates things at times, but those who stick with it and attempt to grasp what the movie is trying to say won’t be disappointed.
The plot tells six different stories that are all connected, each one having a direct impact on the other. The stories span from an ocean voyage in the mid-1800s to the distant future, where the world is a different and more terrifying place. While the times and the characters are different, they all center around a powerful message, one that hopefully will make us look inside ourselves and carefully observe the decisions we make
Cloud Atlas operates on the notion that the choices we make, whether they are acts of kindness or terrible crimes, affect us and others for the rest of eternity. The film thoroughly explores this idea, but often in ways that lack clarity. The first hour of the movie feels thrown together and unorganized. It isn’t until about halfway through that the film’s message becomes clear. Simple ideas are made much more complicated than they need to be, and many will have trouble following the various stories and the constant shifting between time periods.
Besides that, the movie is highly entertaining. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry both deliver phenomenal performances, and they both bring something unique to each of the characters they play. Hugo Weaving, who seems to be cast in villain roles more and more often these days, also stands out as not only a prominent Hollywood name but also a truly chilling character. The same actors are used in all six stories, which actually works well here. They all bring something new to the table in each story, so the fact that the actors are recycled doesn’t distract viewers.
The visual effects are superb, and there are several shots that stand out as particularly breathtaking. Those going into this movie hoping for some visual spectacle won’t be disappointed.
Cloud Atlas is not your typical sci-fi flick, but those who can get past the complicated execution will have a blast.