Cloud Atlas had a ton of hype around it when it came out in October. It took Brik and I a few months to get around to seeing it, since we usually wait for things to get to the second run theater. I am very glad I did not waste $10 a ticket to see this turd.
The plot of Cloud Atlas is divided into multiple storylines, each taking place in a different time period using all of the same actors playing different characters. Each plot line had little strands woven in that linked them somehow to the other time periods. The goal was lofty: to demonstrate that each action, good or bad, has consequences to everyone, even rippling out to the distant future.
The tagline for the movie is Everything is Connected, and this makes sense given what they tried to do with the plot lines. However, I spent most of the time in the theater wondering how is everything connected (besides Halle Barry treading the boundary of black and white). How could the average moviegoer pick out these barely discernible threads? This is Amurrica. Dumb it down please.
Speaking of multiple plot lines, it’s extremely difficult to make a movie of decent length that contains ONE fully formed plot line, let alone six. Each story had some semblance of an arc to bring it from inception to completion, and in order to do that, the movie ballooned to three hours. Lots of movies are around the three hour mark these days, but it’s too long unless executed flawlessly (and they usually aren’t. See The Hobbit). How can a girl drink a coke and not have to pee in the middle of that?
Cloud Atlas has three directors on the credits. I have no idea how that came to pass and I am not about to do any research on it (by accident I discovered they are siblings and apparently they always work together, blah blah whatever), but my theory is that once the three of them were hired, they all made up two plot lines, shot all of the footage for it, and then all three did a data dump on the editors. Doesn’t the name director imply that you are in charge and running the show? Who is in charge when three people are in charge? WHO SHOULD I LISTEN TO???? I can’t imagine how many directions we’d be pulled in if we had three Presidents running the country (but Congress runs fine with hundreds of people vying for power; once you get over a certain number it just works). Maybe for Cloud Atlas 2: Electric Boogaloo they can hire 100 directors. I can’t wait for that masterpiece to come out.
The crew responsible for makeup on Cloud Atlas probably did have 100 people, because for each time period the characters had increasingly elaborate makeup and facial prosthetics in order to create an illusion of variety. This technique brought us Mr. Hanks as Cajun Castaway, Halle Berry as Futuristic Mocha Arwen, and Hugo Weaving as Really Ugly Female Warden in the “prison” (aka old folks home). Maybe I am being a little bit racist, but when you take an Asian actor with a very strong accent, dress her up in prosthetics and a wig, then have her speak Spanish, it’s just…..WTF? I thought Doona Bae was speaking Korean when she appeared in that getup (Surprise! She is South Korean) until Halle Barry busted back at her in Spanish. I know, I know. A woman can play Peter Pan and Jesus can be black. But some things work and some kind of don’t, and for me, at least in this case, it didn’t.
Let me take you back to 1999 for a minute, the year that Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out in theaters. If I recall correctly, not only was this film very popular, but it produced a character who is universally loved by the American people. Jar Jar Binks is revered not only for the stunning computer imagery that created him, but for the very particular manner of his speech (“Ohh, maxi big da Force. Well dat smells stinkowiff.”). I would love to personally thank the clown who brought Jar-speak back to the forefront of cinema, and to the entire cast of Cloud Atlas for so flawlessly performing it, in order to really bring home the point that we are so good at bastardizing a language that it will be unrecognizable in the future (“That’s just a rope o’smoke. Old Uns got the Smart.”).
The highlight (seriously) of Cloud Atlas for me was the score. It was very enjoyable for me as a music lover and I think they deserved the Golden Globe Nomination for it. I’m just sorry they have no other reason to high-five each other while eating filet mignon on a bed of caviar on their gold filigree plates at the award ceremony. Don’t take it too hard, Mr. Hanks; there’s always next year.
On a final note, it literally smelled like farts in the theater when we went to see this movie. Especially right around the area where Brik and I were sitting. By the third hour of this bloated monstrosity I just couldn’t hold in my dissatisfaction. Good thing no one was sitting nearby. Brik did what any good man would do: pretended he was responsible. Because we all know that girls only fart rainbows and never poop, since our bodies run with 100% efficiency.
But I digress. The popcorn, candy, and soda seem like an awesome idea at the start of the movie, but once you’ve had a chance to digest it, nothing comes out but a foul, lingering stench. Cloud Atlas tried to stuff depth, humor, action, love, sci-fi, weird makeup, music, and about 2984 plot lines into one film. Individually those ideas had promise, but all of them at once gave me indigestion.