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Beautifully weaving six stories together, Cloud Atlas examines how humankind is connected through past, present and future, and how one’s life can directly impact another’s life long they’ve passed.

The six stories are set throughout both time and space – an 1850s sea voyage from the South Pacific to America, 1930s pre-WWII Europe, 1975 Cold War America, modern day Great Britain, Seoul in 2144, and the post-apocalyptic world some significant time in the future. Each individual plot is directly affected by the story which chronologically occurs before theirs, demonstrating how one’s life can have a direct impact on the future long after one has died. Furthermore, the overarching theme that everything is connected throughout time is demonstrated through the actors portraying a different role in each of the six stories. Additionally, the main character of each plot is marked by having a small birthmark in the shape of a comet, physically showing reincarnation through time and space.

While the plots of the six stories drastically differ from each other, they all pull on very similar themes that examine how human nature remains constant through history. At one point in the film, Halle Berry’s 1970s character Louisa Rayes poses the question: “Why do we keep making the same mistakes?” which is a question many historians have asked over time. The answer is demonstrated though the paralleling examples of human nature: each of the plots show human kind experiencing power, suffering, greed, kindness, loyalty, and love. Cloud Atlas rightfully features love as the most predominant and powerful emotion in human existence, as the story depicts how love carries on throughout time and is never truly lost.

Each member of the star-studded cast, which features Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, and James D’Arcy, wonderfully highlights their acting abilities in Cloud Atlas due to each actor portraying multiple – and extremely different – roles. Hanks once again proves his superb talent and it wouldn’t be surprising in the least if his work in this film was nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars next year. It also wouldn’t be surprising if Cloud Atlas won Best Makeup at the Academy Awards – the physical transformation each actor went through for their multiple roles was astonishing, as they were sometimes completely unrecognizable. The makeup was so well-done that it wasn’t until the ending credits when I learned each of the roles all of the actors played.

The film was adapted by Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski from British author David Mitchell’s novel of the same name  - the three screenwriters also co-directed the film. I can imagine that both writing the book and adapting the film were huge feats to overcome. Mitchell interwove six stories together in a crafty way that they were all distinct plots, yet all connected, and Tykwer and the Wachoskis had to work to the same awesome accolades and high standards Mitchell’s novel already received and to intertwine the plots into a film that would keep the audience intrigued. Although the film is a little lengthy at just shy of three hours, the three screenwriters overall fantastically adapted the humankind epic for the big screen, keeping the seriousness of the story while perfectly inserting some rip-roaring comedic moments. I would be highly surprised if this screenplay adaptation wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award. If one hasn’t read the novel before viewing the film, it may take the entire first third of the story to really wrap one’s mind around the film’s structure, but is easy to follow once done so.

While the film didn’t receive a high amount of publicity, don’t let that be a reason to deter seeing the film. Cloud Atlas is an underrated masterpiece that will most likely receive multiple nominations, and probably a few wins, at the 2013 Academy Awards. The story and themes on human nature are timeless and relateable to anyone who watches the film. David Mitchell, Tom Tykwer, and Lana and Andy Wachoski created masterpieces that will carry on long after they’ve passed. Because of their wonderful creations of the novel and film respectively, their work and lives can be summarized into a statement that one of Ben Whishaw’s characters makes in the film: “My life extends far beyond the limitations of me.”

Grade: A-

Rated: R (for violence, language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use.)

Cloud Atlas opens in theaters on October 26, 2012.

  • 7Starrchasers

    OOOO so excited to watch it now!

  • Lara

    I saw the preview yesterday at the movies. My first reaction was this could be totally amazing or this could totally suck; I’m glad is the first, can’t wait to watch it.

  • kburford

    well this confuses me. top critics on rotten tomatoes gave it a 41%…..

    • gcw07

      Because this site always gives movies a lot higher grade then other places. I think it is because you probably have people already in love with the material who are reviewing it and not someone unfamiliar with the source material. Usually best to just ignore the reviews on here and look at the top critics elsewhere.

      • CliveRogan

        The reason I don’t ever go on Rotten Tomatoes, and don’t consider it’s opinion valid is because its binary view of things defies the point of rating things. 50% of people loving a film and 50% hating it will produce a rating of 50%. 100% of people thinking a film is OK will produce a rating of 100%. Based on the scores alone you’d see the film with 100% as it seems better,, but the lower rating, while riskier could result in a film you genuinely love.

        Looking at it now, Cloud Atlas has a score of 46% with an average rating of 61%, meaning that those people who have given it good reviews have given it a score much higher relatively than those who’ve said it’s bad.

        Sorry, rant over. All i’ll say though is that you should never judge a film based on one review, or the average consensus, neither will truly reflect your opinions.

        • gcw07

          Well I agree with that for the most part. However this movie looks to be about as good as Speed Racer was. The Wachoski’s have made one good movie and this ain’t it.

          • http://twitter.com/LaCoraDora Cora Dora

            Have you seen the film? How can you be sure this isn’t a good movie or that other people will not like it? You shouldn’t go telling others that they should not listen to the reviews on Hypable just because you don’t agree with them. Everyone has differing opinions and for some the reviews on Hypable might better reflect them. I know that I have my group of critics I pay close attention to because they typically have the same opinions on films that I do. For some people, Hypable might be one of these critics.

            And I know that the critics I listen to like this film and some have even rated it higher than an A-.

            Also, if you’re telling people not to listen to Hypable reviews, what are you doing on here?

      • http://Hypable.com/ James Bean

        The author of this article actually isn’t familiar with the source material. Nice guess though. I THINK…I mean…forgive me if I’m wrong…I THINK she gave her reasons for enjoying the film somewhere in the 700 words above. It’s altogether possible that she just enjoyed the film. I’m no expert or anything, but experience has told me that sometimes people have different opinions.

      • http://www.hypable.com/ Louie Schuth

        Yes, it has a 41% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and that means that 41% percent of the people that reviewed it liked it. Why is it a problem that we liked it too?

  • mercury2119

    The top critics in this case were very very wrong.

  • charlton

    Very excited to see this movie.
    And I have to say “kudos” to the reviewer.

  • thisguy

    Ok here’s what I still can’t get: If the actors are playing reincarnations of the same soul through time, then how can 2 characters in the same “soul journey” exist simultaneously in the one timeframe??? Examples… 1) if Whishaw is a record store clerk in 1973, wouldn’t his character from 2012 (the old wife) be just a younger woman 39 years ago in ’73? And 2) if Hugh Grant is the power plant owner in ’73, how can he also be the elder Denny Cavendish in 2012? The math doesn’t work out for reincarnation of these souls…or are we to believe that some of these souls are just shifting from one body to another in mid-lifetime? Please help…I really want to understand the idea here.

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