Screening Room Home Video: “Cloud Atlas”

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Warner Brothers

You may NEED an atlas to navigate your way through the labyrinth called “Cloud Atlas,” a wildly ambitious sci-fi epic from the makers of “The Matrix” movies and “Run Lola, Run.” Four Oscar winners -Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon and Jim Broadbent- are among the stars of this daring and visually arresting movie.

I like the make-up. That’s about it. I like the make-up. But the make-up is wildly imaginative. I guess you could say the story is also wildly imaginative but as a movie it’s a mess. I can see how this would be a terrific novel. But probably best as a novel where the medium allows you to excel at your own pace, thoroughly digest the material and flip back if need be. I also think that this complex material was above the pay range of the filmmakers. Perhaps a more experienced team could pull of this tricky material.

Adapted from the novel by David Mitchell, “Cloud Atlas” intertwines stories from the past, present and future to relate a theme of reincarnation…and the universality of human nature. It’s just as pretentious, silly and overreaching as it sounds as these actors play the same soul in various bodies at differing times and places.

Yes, this movie in which the central issue is reincarnation really is tricky. It’s one part brilliant, one part haphazard and one part strange. Gotta give everyone involved credit. They went for it but fail but not completely. Just too many dangling threads and too many unanswered questions. I’ll say this. It’s ambitious.

While often frustratingly vague, the movie is engaging and exciting enough to keep most viewers’ interest for three hours. In fact, the sharp editing of “Cloud Atlas” is its greatest asset. The production values are stunning and it has both the best and worst makeup effects of the year. But for all of it’s virtues, and there are many, “Cloud Atlas” is the very definition of a “mixed bag.”

The only extra material on the DVD release will be A Film Like No Other making of featurette. The Blu-ray/DVD Combo release will also include 6 additional featurettes .

RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags

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