Cloud Atlas [Blu-Ray] Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer

Cloud Atlas [Blu-Ray] Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer
8
Ambition is often met with misunderstanding, and the overwhelmingly poor critical and public reception to the magnificent and inspiring Cloud Atlas stands as stark proof. A project as daunting as adapting David Mitchell's bold, intricately interwoven novel about the karmic journey of souls through time, focusing on six significant incarnations, was destined to be a tough sell to mainstream audiences. Considering the inevitable discomfort most audiences unfortunately felt in trying to follow such a big metaphysical film that bravely experiments with narrative form and revels in gender- and race-bending, it's a bit of a shame that the Wachowskis and creative partner Tomas Tykwer decided to do their best to make the story accessible to the very audience they ended up alienating. By increasing the prominence of the simmering love affair between two souls that barely plays as a minor undercurrent in the book, the filmmakers ended up adding an unnecessary layer of sentimental, populist cheese to a story that is otherwise consistently thought-provoking and iconoclastic, if a little irresponsibly so ("screw authority, who needs a plan!"). The overtly saccharine elements are also partly a by-product of restructuring. Reconfiguring the time pyramid trajectory of the novel into a linear narrative that emphasises the emotional and social commonalities between the six time periods with masterful editing, at the expense of the cleverly staged depiction of meme transfer, which was rendered more clearly on the page than the screen, makes it feel as though the whole thing should be building towards a resolution at the end of the line. Experiencing the interconnected stories in this manner is much easier to digest in cinematic form, but it ends up being partly just a tricky way of adhering to the norm it's also rallying against. Minor complaints aside, Cloud Atlas is a stunning triumph of marrying art to spectacle in cinema that absolutely deserves to accrue a rabid cult following. While the special features for the Blu-Ray edition are engrossing, mostly taking the form of a series of discussions between the three filmmakers and the book's author about technical and thematic challenges, viewers passionately drawn to this beautiful film will likely be left wanting more. In addition to the often Lana-led conversations, there is a bit of behind-the-scenes footage to satisfy technical curiosity, and the extensive primary cast members, including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant and Doona Bae — all in peak form — each contribute some talking head time, joking about the mysterious joy of talking to disguised co-stars in the makeup room and expressing pride in having been involved in such a unique project. It may be woefully underappreciated in our time, but like a jagged soul put through the rock polisher of reincarnation, Cloud Atlas will only improve with age and perspective. (Warner)