CLOUD ATLAS (BLU-RAY/DVD + ULTRAVIOLET DIGITAL COPY COMBO PACK) (2013)
Cloud Atlas (Blu-ray/DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy Combo Pack) (2013)
Actors: Tom Hanks,
Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess
Directors: Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski
Producers: Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Grant Hill,
Format: AC-3, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1), French
(Dolby Digital 4.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles: Spanish, French, English
Region: All Regions
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: May 14, 2013
Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 14, 2015
Cloud Atlas is a
love-it or hate-it film is beyond all possible doubt.
The Sci-Fi Movie Page’s Daniel Kimmel pronounced it
the best movie of the year, and his is not an opinion
I dismiss lightly. Personally, I stood on the opposite
side of the equation, naming it the year’s worst.
Daniel saw a profound meditation on the nature of
life, existence and the human soul. I saw a merciless
assault of bad wigs and goofy make-up in the service
of pretentious drivel. Daniel witness science fiction
filmmaking at its most powerful. I saw a trio of
auteurs dragging the genre into the Ninth Circle of
Hell and making sure we came along for the ride.
Daniel saw beauty. I saw horror. Both, as always, are
in the eye of the beholder, and no doubt many readers
will greet the film’s arrival on Blu-ray with great
joy. I’m not saying you’re wrong to feel this way. But
now, having viewed the film for a second – and please
dear God make it the last – time, I can now safely
tell you that you’re on your own.
The story comes from a supposedly unfilmable novel
that connects six different incidents in six
historical periods through shared souls. We witness
the unlikely friendship of a notary and a slave aboard
an 1850s ship, a gay composer in the 1930s fighting to
preserve his masterpiece, a crusading 1970s journalist
uncovering systemic corruption, a 21st century book
editor trapped against his will in a nursing home, an
enslaved clone quietly sparking a revolution in
futuristic Seoul, and a post-apocalyptic Hawaiian
aiding a scientist in a wondrous discovery. Yes,
The narratives themselves are less important than the
fact that they’re all connected in supposedly profound
ways. Said profundity arrives by casting the same
actors in multiple roles, slathering them in some of
the most frighteningly unconvincing make-up known to
man, and setting them loose to gnaw on the scenery
like starving beavers.
Their ranks include Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim
Sturgess, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, and Hugh Grant;
with the exception of Ben Whishaw’s sensitive
composer, not a single one of them survives intact.
They adopt alternate accents and ridiculous vocal
tones in an attempt to disguise themselves. The faux
intellectualism is unaware of its own ridiculousness
(Get it? Each actor plays the same soul), and reduces
the supposedly riveting drama to a farcical game of
Where’s Waldo. We spend more time trying to spot the
actors beneath pounds of latex than we do caring about
the story, and because yellowface and other racial
caricatures are in effect, the result is inadvertently
insulting at times.
Not that the narrative itself does any better.
Directors Tom Tykwer and Lana & Andy Wachowski yank us
back and forth between each time period with all the
grace and subtlety of a pick axe to the skull. We’re
supposed to infer connections between the stories in
the cross-cutting. Instead, we develop a blinding
headache as the relentless tone-deaf direction smashes
every theme and idea into mush.
It’s not supposed to be that way, of course. There’s
supposed to be something here that naysayers just
don’t get, and clearly there are smart people out
there who connect to whatever it’s trying to impart.
I’m sorry to say that I can’t see it . . . and believe
me I’ve been looking.
The film hints at mysteries it doesn’t want to expose,
for doing so would tear away its last fig leaf and
reveal it for the shocking fraud that it is. It tries
so hard to impress us with its brilliance that it
fails on the most basic levels of cinema. Only a truly
great auteur could make something this bad; only a
genius could aim so high and fall so far after missing
the mark so completely. Cloud Atlas has three times as
many as most films, making the ambition three times as
devastating. We get a front-row seat to the whole
thing. Lucky us.
THE DISC: As is typical with this kind of
production, the disc offers impeccable audio and
visual quality. The look is crisp and clean, with warm
tones and comparatively little pixilation. The audio
quality stands the test as well, with the quieter
moments as sharp as the scenes of thunderous action.
The disc slips a bit on the extra features: seven
shorts, each no more than nine minutes long, covering
the various challenges of the production and the
filmmakers’ approach to the difficult novel. They’re
not bad, but they lack the comprehensiveness that the
film’s admirers might expect from it.
WORTH IT? If you’ve seen it and love it, it’s
all yours. Everyone else might do better with slow,
Novocain-free root canal instead.
RECOMMENDATION: Misfires don’t come any bigger
than this one, creating a horrendous mess worthy of
the MST3K gang.
- Rob Vaux