Genre: Sci-fi drama
Running Time: 171 mins (original cut)
Director: Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Tom Tykwer
Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Jim Strugess, Donna Bae, Ben Wishaw
Synopsis: “A powerful and inspiring epic from the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, based on the best-selling novel by David Mitchell. Drama, mystery, action and enduring love thread through a single story that unfolds in multiple timelines over 500 years. Characters meet and reunite from one life to the next as the consequences of their actions and choices impact one another through the past, the present and the distant future” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures).
Verdict: A fast-paced 3-hour film that challenges the mind to put a puzzle together while simultaneously watching 6 different compelling stories in different eras with same actors, which ultimately and convincingly conveys two significant messages (see spoiler section) that may inspire or change the mindset of others. This has got to be the biggest snub by the 85th Annual Academy Awards. The only downsides of Cloud Atlas, as far as I’m concerned, are some of the acting, dialogues, predictable humour, and the vagueness of one of the stories (the Neo Seoul one). I don’t even know whether to criticise the makeup or to compliment it ’cause the faces of some of the characters look extremely strange and yet they’re unrecognisable. But all that would seem minor when a film is, in overall, one daring, long, complex and expensive production, and yet highly enjoyable to sit through, even for an immediate second round.
Second opinion: “Nice, very cool; will watch it again” (Iris Loong)
Malaysian censorship: All nudity and sex scenes are cut. A pretty cool scene (the one in the image below) that’s in between the sex scene are chopped off as well. Not sure if our local film editor was too lazy or too unskilled. Thankfully, the movie’s already released in many other countries last year and we can watch the entire movie online in HD.
Rating: 5 / 5
[SPOILER SECTION BEGINS HERE]
What do the birthmarks mean? One character in every story (or segment) has a black birthmark that shapes like a shooting star or a comet. Although not specifically explained what it means in the movie, many may think that it’s an indication of reincarnation. No, the reincarnated souls are the characters played by the same actors (which are pleasantly surprising to see when they’re revealed during the closing credits). Some of them are reincarnated to become better (e.g; Tom Hanks’ roles – from multiple evil characters to a coward who finds courage in the end), some just never learn (e.g; Hugo Weaving’s roles – from being a cold hearted business man, to an assassin and finally becomes just an imaginary devil). I believe the birthmark is to indicate the protagonist of the each story. They are the catalysts of the outcome of their respective stories, which essentially affects the future events.
What is the point of the movie? In my opinion, to convey two messages. One, whatever we do may positively or negatively affect or/and influence the others of the present and even the far future, and trigger a chain reaction (butterfly effect). “No matter what you do, it will never amount to anything more than a single drop in a limitless ocean; yet what is an ocean but a multitude of drops?” (quotes from the last scene of Ewing’s story). The second message is what I’d like to call a counter-religious-cum-spiritual theory. Like Somni in the story set in the furthest future, who we worship as God may had been just a human being, mistranslated or fictionalised into religions, beliefs and whatnot, and that it may limit what we can or should do. However, it does not mean that afterlife is nonexistent.
[SPOILER SECTION ENDS HERE]
Special thanks to Nuffnang for the invitation to the local premiere (which is overdue).