Everything’s connected. That’s the premisse of Cloud Atlas and to prove this statement we get six stories on our plate that get shown in pieces, influence each other, and span multiple centuries.
A notary who crosses the ocean in 1849 and discovers the inhumanity of slavery, a gay musician who starts working for a composer in the hopes to lean enough to get his own masterpiece on paper, a journalist discovering a plot regarding a nuclear reactor, a publisher who gets locked up in a nursing home, a clone who rebels in a futuristic Korea, and the story of a supersticious tribe in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii from the far future that needs to survive. All this is fired upon us during almost three hours with an all-star cast in which amongst others we notice Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon, Keith David, Hugh Grant and James D’Arcy, and this under the directing eye of Tom Tykwer (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), and Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix). Your expectations would be high for less.
We’ve seen more projects of this magnitude fall on their fat ass due to their own weight and sadly enough also Cloud Atlas suffers from this. The movie starts very confusing, and when you just start to realise how things appear to be tied together you notice only a few minutes later again that you seem to have lost it. You undergo this process multiple times while watching and this mostly due to the constant moving from one era to the other. The makers luckily are skillful enough to make sure that from about halfway through you get an unstoppable urge to keep watching and stop being bothered with the confusing way of storytelling. However, the ending is all but spectacular and leaves you without a feeling of fulfillment as reward for the effort made by keeping clustered to the screen.
The acting as such is ok, but people like Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving and Halle Berry pass by in each and every story while taking on a different role and this really goes far at times. Weaving having to put on fake breasts to play a demonic matriarch in a nursing home? No, this is a bridge too far for us! It looks more like a costume party than a supposedly epic movie!
Cloud Atlas tries to be big but when you cut to the chase and look carefully at the seperate stories you notice all too quickly that there’s too little content present to justify such epic proportions. Usually in such cases there’s some overall arc, or even a hint of moral, present but also this seems to be lacking or is too thin to truly make an impact and lift the movie to a higher level. Cloud Atlas seems to talk a lot but say very little.
The image and sound quality we get on the DVD are without a doubt very good. The level of detail is more than adequate, and a nice addition is that the colors in the seperate stories are adjusted to the different times. Futuristic Korea is filled with bright colors, post-apocalyptic Hawaii is very natural and green and has quite the contrast with the space ship where the people from Halle Berrys character travel with, and so on. This all gets put on the screen without any notable issues and with good support from the sound where most of all the music often comes floating through all channels without ever interfering with the dialogues. Very good!
Less good is the department of extras. There aren’t any, you’ll need to get the Blu-ray for those.