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Cloud Atlas (2012)


Year: 2012
Country of Origin: U.S.
Rating: R
Time: 172 mins. 

It has been said that David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas is an impossible book to adapt to film considering it's six story-lines ranging from all genres that tell a tale of suppression and freedom between the years of 1849 and 2346. After their success with the Matrix trilogy and mediocre hit Speed Racer (2008), The Wachowski siblings teamed up with the mastermind behind Run Lola Run (1998),Tom Tykwer, to tackle the Mt. Everst of books, Cloud Atlas. Cloud Atlas is truly the most ambitious film I've ever laid eyes on with its six stories interwoven with one another that retells the same story in various ways about their path to freedom in less than three hours. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Ben Whishaw, and James D'arcy, star in multiple roles that span ethnicities, gender, and age, channeling the reincarnations of each other's characters in different time periods that reiterates the idea that everything is connected.

The film is not hard to follow but contemplating the stories relations to one another may cause a few mind-numbing headaches. Individually, the stories could've been their own films considering they are told in various genres from mystery to comedy to adventure. But in mushing them together to create a cohesive message, not only creates a mezmerizing outlook to the connection of everyone and events from generation to generation but also, handicaps the film by minimizing the emotional connection with the audience. I heard the soundtrack before I saw the film and thought I would be emotionally moved to tears. But ironically, the enormity of the film caused me to feel disconnected from the powerful and endearing message of the movie. Maybe the boundaries to my  suspense of disbelief was fractured when certain actors transformed and transcended races, ages, and gender to an astounding outcome that simply didn't resonant with me. But that is probably the best and worst thing about the film as it gives typecast actors a chance to play around and prove their worth. Like underrated actor, Hugh Grant made multifarious appearances and the most memorable one of him is as the Kona Chief living in the far future in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii, who terrorizes Tom Hank's village people. And then there is the most shocking transformational role for Tom Hanks as Dermot Hoggins, the writer of "Knuckle Sandwich" as a DGAF gangster who will shut you down if he has to. It sounds inconceivable trying to imagine Hanks as anything but a castaway yelling "Wilson" or talking about Jenny. But he picks the wild cards and pulls it off effortlessly.

Although, it gave many actors the freedom to play unconventional characters, for others it failed to convince and consume us into their role. Like Jim Sturgess' role in Neo-Seoul, who was morphed into a mutant of some sort with overly slanted eyes and ghoulish skin as if he's been barfing all day. But it turns out that he is suppose to look Korean considering his name is Hae-Joo Chang. Is yellow-facing so bad when the whole film consists of white-facing, brown-facing, and ______ facing? Oh but of course, no black facing. They can't handle that kind of criticism, not today anyways. I've had a crush on Doona Bae since her Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) years and was quite surprised with amount of power she possessed in this film as Somni-451. Maybe because I've been conditioned by the media to think that most Asians would have the least amount of screen time, but I was moved by her prominent role as a slave labor who searches for freedom and eventually starts a revolution.

Whether you've heard good or bad things about Cloud Atlas, it is something that you must decide and experience for yourself. This is the first wholly unique Blockbuster that has come out in god knows how long. The echoes of reincarnation and spirituality that reverberate throughout the film might not be your cup of tea but if it is a spectacle you want to see, it is a spectacle you will get! Even though the film met up to my non-existent expectations, any film that requires me to solve the film's puzzle in my head well after the film is done and over with, is always good in my book. If you think you were thinking hard  about the ins and outs of Inception (2010), wait till you see Cloud Atlas! B+

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