Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bloated Opulence

Cloud Atlas       Final Cut Score: 70%

There's high concept and then there's Cloud Atlas.

The Wachowskis' monumentally ambitious sci-fi time-hopper demands a superhuman level of dedication and patience but the payoff isn't worth the labor required to endure its nearly three-hour runtime.

Attempts to succinctly summarize Cloud Atlas are brutally laborious as well; the film spans six different time periods - some 500 years - and their alleged interwoven tales. The cast is innumerable, headlined by Tom Hanks, who plays everything from a 1800s ship doctor to a post-apocalyptic tribesman whose pattern of speech mirrors Ben Stiller's Simple Jack character from Tropic Thunder.

Apparently the ability to speak anything resembling the King's English is amongst the casualties of a cataclysmic war.

Each of the key actors - Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess and James D'Arcy - wears multiple hats and the requisite prosthetics to ferry them from one timeline to the next. Whether it be Grant sporting a Scooby Doo villain's elderly man mask, D'Arcy's Klingon getup or Sturgess' Asian transformation, deciphering who's layered with latex is a somewhat annoying distraction.

And Lord knows there's no room for those distractions as you wrestle with patching together Cloud Atlas' sextet of stories. Every ounce of attention is necessary to even attempt to disentangle Lana (formerly Larry) and Andy Wachowski's - along with Tom Twyker - adaptation of David Mitchell's 2004 novel.

While the expectation would be that the narratives intersect in some semblance of a Crash-like scenario, they don't. The film slogs around, trying its darndest to demonstrate cohesion but the loop never comes close to closing in satisfactory fashion.

Building to a whimper of a crescendo, Cloud Atlas culminates with a series of statements that aim to be revelatory but are nothing more than remixed Bible verses. This is what I invested my soul in for the past 164 minutes? This is your denouement? Thanks for nothing Cloud Atlas. Well, aside from the three hours of my life, lost forever in the sea of time.