Film review: Cloud Atlas (7 out of 10)

Hugo Weaving and Tom Hanks in Cloud Atlas.
Hugo Weaving and Tom Hanks in Cloud Atlas.

It’s always good to watch a film that actually requires you to use your brain. The ‘popcorn’ movies such as Die Hard are OK but don’t linger in the mind.

Cloud Atlas certainly provides plenty to mull over.

In fact, because of it’s enormous length (just short of three hours) it’s rather testing on both your concentration and bladder control.

Thankfully, I passed on both accounts with flying colours.

The movie is based on David Mitchell’s popular novel and has been adapted and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer.

The Wachowskis are best known for The Matrix, elements of which are evident in this latest project.

Cloud Atlas has no less than six stories across time.

In each one the main cast have a different role, so, for instance, Halle Berry is a reporter in the 1970s and a wizened old man way in the future.

Tom Hanks in particular seems to be having a great time as a variety of people, although the Scottish accent at the start is rather strange.

Cloud Atlas is about how actions across time impact on decisions made in the past, present and future.

It’s also about how love can survive extreme circumstances and guide our actions.

With the film jumping across half a dozens stories you might think confusion would reign.

However, each of these tales are strong enough to have been made into its own movie.

Concentration is needed, though, to pick up on references in one story that are followed up in another.

You also need all your wits to understand the language used in a post-apocalptic Hawaii.

Arguably the strongest story involves cloned women in a futuristic Korea with Doona Bae taking a lead role.

It’s a cross betwen The Matrix, Soylent Green and Blade Runner.

However, the least dramatic tale with Jim Broadbent as a publisher is very funny, adding much needed humour, especially with Hugo Weaving dressed as a fearsome female nurse.

Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Hugh Grant and Jim Sturgess add their considerable skills throughout.

The ending is somewhat drawn out, though, with a fair amount of intense conversation.

Overall it’s a very long but a well-crafted combination of stories that will intrigue many but possibly just confuse others.

But it’s worth sitting there just to see if you can spot the actors in their various guises.

Film details: Cloud Atlas (15) 172mins.

Director: Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer

Starring: Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw.

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley

Steve Payne