CVIndependent

Mon04062020

Last updateFri, 03 Apr 2020 5pm

1. Parker (Sony)

2. Dark Skies (Starz/Anchor Bay)

3. Cloud Atlas (Warner Bros.)

4. The Last Stand (Lionsgate)

5. Side Effects (Universal)

6. Broken City (20th Century Fox)

7. Mama (Universal)

8. Beautiful Creatures (Warner Bros.)

9. Jack Reacher (Paramount)

10. A Haunted House (Universal)

Published in Video Top 10

1. Parker (Sony)

2. The Last Stand (Lionsgate)

3. Jack Reacher (Paramount)

4. Side Effects (Universal)

5. Broken City (20th Century Fox)

6. Mama (Universal)

7. Cloud Atlas (Warner Bros.)

8. Texas Chainsaw (Lionsgate)

9. Beautiful Creatures (Warner Bros.)

10. Safe Haven (20th Century Fox)

Published in Video Top 10

Three directors and a game cast tell interconnecting stories over centuries in Cloud Atlas, a mightily ambitious project from Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and the Wachowski siblings (Andy and Lana of The Matrix films).

The likes of Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Jim Sturgess don heavy makeup to play multiple roles as the movie tries to show how lives and people interconnect through time. The experiment pays off enough to qualify this as a mostly enjoyable time, although some stories are weaker than others. Berry has a good one as a reporter in the 1970s dealing with crooked energy suppliers, and Hanks has a nice time playing both virtuous and murderous types. As for the bad guys Hanks plays, let’s just say it’s a long way from Forrest Gump or the sweetie pie douchebag who met up with Meg What’s-Her-Face on top of the Empire State Building. He gets to play the worst scumbags of his career, and you can sense he cherishes the opportunity.

The movie does boast some of 2012’s worst makeup, and it distracts from time to time.

The film is more a magnificent curio than magnificent entertainment. It will certainly challenge audiences ill-prepared for its length (172 minutes—almost three hours!) and numerous swirling stories.

Massive kudos to the folks in charge of the visuals here, especially the future cities. They come up with mighty original settings for this film, and they look good on the home screen.

Special Features: You get a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff that add up to less than an hour and don’t really impress. 

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

1. Jack Reacher (Paramount)

2. Mama (Universal)

3. Safe Haven (20th Century Fox)

4. Cloud Atlas (Warner Bros.)

5. Broken City (20th Century Fox)

6. Silver Linings Playbook (Starz/Anchor Bay)

7. Texas Chainsaw (Lionsgate)

8. Gangster Squad (Warner Bros.)

9. The Guilt Trip (Paramount)

10. A Haunted House (Universal)

Published in Video Top 10

About 45 minutes into the nearly three-hour Cloud Atlas screening I attended, some dude blew out his lips, sounding not unlike a bridled horse after piloting a carriage around Disneyland for a half-day.

Others stood up, shook their heads and walked out solemnly with their popcorn corn tubs for the first of many refills.

Cloud Atlas is one mightily ambitious film. Three directors are at the helm; the cast is high-profile, with most playing multiple roles; and there are interconnecting story arcs spanning centuries.

All things considered, it’s remarkable how cohesive the film is. While different directors handled different stories, the film doesn’t feel as if different directors were handling the shots. It has a nice, smooth, unified vision. It's not smooth enough to please everybody, judging by the mass exodus from the theater, but smooth enough to impress the likes of me.

The directors are the Wachowski siblings (Andy and Lana of The Matrix movies) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run). They handled different parts of the movie with their own crews, while sharing the cast members, who play a multitude of different characters that required them to often wear heavy prosthetic makeup.

The cast includes Tom Hanks, who gets to play both virtuous and murderous men, often changing accents, wigs and teeth. Hanks looks like he’s having the time of his life, and he helps to propel the film, even when it threatens to go off the rails.

Also on hand is Halle Berry, who has been getting some stinker roles lately. This is her best film in years, especially during a 1970s plotline that has her playing a reporter investigating a nuclear power plant scheme. Hugh Grant, having a fun year with his great voiceover work in The Pirates! Band of Misfits, gets to play a host of disgusting people, as does Wachowski regular Hugo Weaving.

The movie’s true intentions don’t start kicking in until halfway through its running time, making the first half a bit of a maze. My advice is to be patient, because, narrative-wise, it all comes together quite wonderfully in the end.

I’m sure the makeup folks were working overtime, and some of their work is quite dandy. That said, much of that makeup is pretty awful. Susan Sarandon has a fake nose at one point that’s so distracting, it’s hard to follow what’s happening in the scene. I found myself staring at her nose and missing dialogue. I did like the transformation of Hugo Weaving into a female nurse as mean as Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. But for every makeup success, there seems to be three failures. The film was budgeted at a little more than $100 million, which is not a lot of money by Hollywood-blockbuster-wannabe standards. So, yeah, another $25 million for fake nose and teeth research might’ve made the film look less like a goofy costume pageant and more realistic.

While there isn’t one story in Cloud Atlas that’s so amazingly good it would stand on its own, the feat of tying them all together is impressive. For instance, there are two slavery stories, one involving Jim Sturgess as a slave trader in the past, and another involving Sturgess as an Asian slave revolutionary in the distant future.

The film, like the novel by David Mitchell, suggests that acts of kindness and hatred at any moment can ripple through time and affect the future. It also suggests that there’s some sort of reincarnation at play, with people meeting each other again and again in different lives. And finally, it also suggests that no matter how good looking we are, we are doomed to have a really bad nose or fake looking wig somewhere down the line.

I liked the idea that the Hanks persona could be a heroic man in the ’70s and a brutish killer in the present day. In that respect, Cloud Atlas certainly lacks in predictability.

In the end, the film is more a magnificent curio than magnificent entertainment. It will certainly challenge audiences ill prepared for its length and numerous swirling stories.

Cloud Atlas is now playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews