Film: Cloud Atlas is foggy, but good

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November 2nd, 2012

Omaha, NE – A movie that spans hundreds of years and features actors switching race and genders. From the Movieha podcast, Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood take a look at Cloud Atlas.

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Ryan: Cloud Atlas was adapted from the David Mitchell novel by writers and directors Andrew and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. If it took three of them to make the movie, I feel like there should be a third person here to help us explain it.

Matt: Our podcast is crowded enough already, and I have the confidence of at least three men. Cloud Atlas has six stories, all featuring similar themes. The stories span from the 1800s all the way into the undefined distant future. Wanna split it up? I’ll take half the stories to quickly synopsize, you take half?

Cloud Atlas is produced by the makers of The Matrix Trilogy, and follows multiple characters through several story lines in an epic tale.

Ryan: Sounds good. One follows Jim Sturgess as a man in the late 1800s crossing the ocean while being poisoned by his doctor, played by Tom Hanks, along with a stowaway escaped slave. Another story is set in the relative near future and follows a freedom fighter, also played by Sturgess, who attempts to liberate a clone treated like a slave. And the story that takes place in the far future sees Hanks as a tribal villager confronted with a wise stranger who wants to send a message to space.

Matt: There’s also a story about star-crossed male lovers, one of whom is a composer played by Ben Whishaw. There’s a thriller set in the 1970s featuring Halle Berry trying to stop a nuclear disaster. And there’s a bit set in the present day with Jim Broadbent as an older publisher who is trapped in a nursing home by Hugo Weaving in drag. Hey, wait a minute, I see what you did there.

Ryan: That’s right, I gave you the bad stories, as I want to remember the parts of Cloud Atlas I loved. See, this movie is like the old nursery rhyme.

Matt: You leave Old Mother Hubbard out of this.

Ryan: No, it’s the girl with the curl on her forehead. When Cloud Atlas is good, it’s very very good, and when it’s bad…

Matt: I have to see Hugo Weaving as the ugliest woman in the world.

Ryan: Exactly. While the scope and effort here is beyond ambitious, the execution is slightly off. From the distracting makeup used to shift gender, race, and age, to the way certain stories….

Matt: The ones you had ME recap.

Ryan: Yes, the ones you recapped, seem entirely out of place.

Matt: But the ones that work are great. From the action in the clone storyline to the creepy futuristic fairy tale feeling of the final storyline in the future, there is just so much to see and enjoy.

Ryan: I think the performances were mostly spot on, even Halle Berry, which is a minor miracle. But that feeling I think they wanted me to have, the one that made me feel in awe, that made me feel like I’m a part of this giant human experience, I never really got that. At least not until the very end.

Matt: That doesn’t mean it’s not still good. The visuals and impressive scope make this worth seeing.

Ryan: Definitely. It’s unlike anything else out there, which is great. I just wish that Cloud Atlas wasn’t so foggy at times.

Editorial note: The Movieha podcast is produced in partnership with The Reader and is available at thereader.com.

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