• Movie Review: 'Cloud Atlas'

    Cloud Atlas
    (Movie review by Francis Bayog)

    Rating: 9.0 /10

    Based on David Mitchell's literary fantasy novel, Cloud Atlas is a unique film that blends six different yet interconnected stories into one breathtaking masterpiece.

    Directed by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, the six plots range across the world from the mid-19th Century to the Post-apocalyptic future, with each revealed to be a story read (or observed) by the protagonist in the next. Here's a preview for each novella-sized story:

    The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing-
    Pacific Ocean, 1850- A San Francisco notary meets a slave and a quack doctor.

    Letters from Zedelghem-

    Zendelgem, Belgium, 1931- Robert Frobisher, a bisexual English composer who works as an amanuensis to a composer.

    cloud atlas china

    Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery
    Buenas Yerbas, California, 1975- Luisa Rey, a young journalist who investigates the secrets of an oil company.


    The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish
    United Kingdom, 2012- Timothy, a publisher who gets confined in a nursing home.

    An Orison of Somni~451
    Neo So Copros (Korea), Near Dystopian Future- Sonmi~451, a female clone who rebels against the totalitarian society who created her kind.


    Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After-
    Hawaii, postapocalyptic distant future- Zachry, a tribesman who encounters Merenym, a woman from a technologically-advanced civilization.

    The film adaptation does a marvelous job in pacing and sequencing the scenes from each, making
    the plots feel more interwoven than the novel's back-to-back chronological structure. Yet finding connections between the stories could still be puzzling to many. The visual styles, characters, and settings are varied, but they share the same themes of good vs. evil, love, passion, and revolution.

    The narrative structure is reflected by Robert Frobisher's completion of the "Cloud Atlas" sextet, which is played multiple times in the film, and the comet-shaped birthmark, a motif that is possessed by a character of almost every plot. We also get to see the actors play various roles such as Hugo Weaving playing different types of antagonists (Nurse Noakes was the most entertaining).


    All the stories strike their own sense of passion and belief, but I thought the Somni-451 plot outshines the rest when it comes to spectacle and emotion. The futuristic scenes are much more memorable because they are fueled with Blade Runner-style action and special effects.

    The worlds and their characters are accurately portrayed for the most part, except for Tom Hank's role as Zachry, who's supposed to look younger. In Luisa Rey's story, the falling scene is well-done, but the later scenes do not pack the same punch as the novel. Cavendish's story is more comedic, and it offers the funniest scene. There's an amazing scene in Frobisher's story where chinas are magically suspended in mid-air, then he and his lover starts breaking them, showing us that people can break away from society's conventions.

    The film's approach on Mitchell's quote in Ewing's final scene makes the most emotional impact. It shows the spirit of Cloud Atlas: how the oppressed people stand for what they believe no matter the evil that could break them apart. Their heroic actions may lead them to their deaths, but the words they pass through generations could make a difference that could ultimately save the good in humanity.

    Watching Cloud Atlas is an enjoyable mental workout that borrows elements from different works to create a cinematic experience never seen before.

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. theinksun's Avatar
      theinksun -
      So roughly how long is each plot given in the movie?
    1. Jake Vyper's Avatar
      Jake Vyper -
      It's hard to tell because they switch to different plots a lot.
    1. galuzyaki's Avatar
      galuzyaki -
      Even as I was watching "Cloud Atlas" the first time, I knew I would need to see it again. Now that I've seen it the second time, I know I'd like to see it a third time but I no longer believe repeated viewings will solve anything.

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