Cloud Atlas ****

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Running Time: 172 Mins Cert: 15

Synopsis:

Six stories that connect a distant past to a bleak future. The adventure travels from a 19th-century Pacific island to a pre-War Edinburgh, ’70s San Francisco, present-day Britain, a dystopian Korea and apocalyptic Hawaii.

 

Based on the always thought of as infilmable David Mitchell novel of the same name. The Wachowskis and Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer have decided to team up to try to make a complex story with many time linked stories entertaining.

 

Putting these visionaries of modern cinema together works extremely well. In that the film has a stunning look and that each of the directors have worked on their strengths. The period pieces being handled by Tykwer, while Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski tackle the more complex futuristic pieces.

 

The actual narrative itself is very complex and initially very confusing. The story strands are mixed together into a never ending concoction events.

 

Chronologically it begins in 1840’s Pacific Islands, where notary Adam Ewing (Sturgess) learns about the cruelty of slavery.

 

In Thirties Britain Ewing’s journals of his voyages inspire composer Robert Frobisher (Whishaw) who struggles with his opus and affections for his mentor Vyvyan Ayrs (Broadbent).

 

While in San Francisco 1973, an investigative journalist Luisa Rey (Berry) reads the letters that Frobisher once wrote to his lover Rufus Sixsmith (James D’Arcy).

 

In London 2012 publisher Timothy Cavendish (Broadbent) is on the run after swindling criminal author Dermot Hoggins (Hanks) out of royalties.

 

The New Seoul of the future, clone Sonmi-451 (Bae Doona) faces execution for her part in a rebellion against an dictatorial regime.

 

While the final tale sees a post-apocalyptic Hawaii tribesman Zachary (Hanks) is visited by Meronym (Halle Berry) who is one of the last survivors of a lost civilisation.

 

The strongest stories are The 1930s strand about a young composer and his less talented employer, the IRobot influenced futuristic Korean tale and a very funny present day story about a crooked publisher confined to an old folks home.

 

Halle Berry and Tom Hanks lead an all star cast in taking on multiple roles with Hugh Grant, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Hugo Weaving and Jim Broadbent all appearing in different guises throughout the film.

 

The makeup effects are very hit and miss. At times it seems that the actors are using left over masks from Dick Tracy. This is ashame as the acting from everyone involved is great.

 

Ambitious and breathtakingly beautiful, this is Wachowskis’ best since Bound. Cloud Atlas is overlong and flawed, but never dull. Audiences will be amazed and thrilled by this intelligent adventure epic.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

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