Monday, March 4, 2013

Cloud Atlas

Hugo Weaving about to cop it from a Scottish football hooligan
Cloud Atlas got released in the UK and Australia last week so I thought I'd reblog this little review from back in December...
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Paradoxically I think the main problem with Cloud Atlas is its lack of ambition. The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer took a clever, elliptical, subtle novel by David Mitchell and turned it into an action movie. The Wachowskis seem fatally caught between two poles: on the one hand they love high ideas and high concepts but on the other they feel driven to provide audiences with with they assume will be crowd pleasing action sequences. Actually the bits of Cloud Atlas that work best are the quiet scenes between characters (especially where Jim Broadbent is involved) whereas the action scenes are dreary retreads of other movies that go on for far too long. I didn't mind the stuff they lifted from Terminator 2, or Lord of the Rings, but to steal from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is unforgiveable... Cloud Atlas is unlikely to please fans of Mitchell's wonderful book (the best novel written by an Englishman in the last 10 years, if you ask me) or excitable fanboys expecting another Matrix.  If the Wachowskis had trusted the material more then Cloud Atlas could have been something really interesting; perhaps in the hands of Ang Lee or Michael Haneke or even Lars Von Trier a film version of the novel might have worked, but alas it doesn't even come close here. I also wonder a little if the Wachowskis actually understood the book which is not about the immortality of the soul or the possibility of an afterlife (Brits are far too cynical these days to write novels about such topics). The performances in the movie were all perfectly adequate (Tom Hanks's awful Irish and Scottish accent work excepted) but Hugo Weaving stole the show - as usual - doing a lovely turn as Nurse Ratchet. And the one good thing about Cloud Atlas The Movie is how it has turned more people onto the book which I now see everywhere from the Safeway to the Walgreens, sandwiched between The National Enquirer, Jack Reacher and Fifty Shades of Gray