Cloud Atlas (2012)

cloud atlas poster 2012 movie tom hanks
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great looking movie with an interesting story

Three hours long, not all actors work in all roles

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Cloud Atlas

Studio:  Cloud Atlas Production

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  September 8, 2012 (Toronto International Film Festival)/October 26, 2012 (US)/February 22, 2013 (UK)

MPAA Rating:  R


Thank-y yea for stopping by, yeah!

Time is relevant.  What  happened in 1846 A.D. could ultimate effect events in the year 2321 A.D.  Be it a bisexual composer named Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw) in 1936 caught in a trap while writing “The Cloud Atlas Sextet” or a clone named Sonmi~451 (Doona Bae) getting her first taste of freedom in Neo-Seoul in 2144 A.D., time is all tied together.  As the last days of Earth wind down, events between a slave Autua (David Gyasi)  and his slaver Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) in 1846 could ultimate effect the fate an islander in 2321 named Zachry (Tom Hanks) and Meronym (Halle Berry) who is trying to find a means of escape.


This isn’t going to end well

Directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Lilly Wachowski, Cloud Atlas is a massive adaptation of David Mitchell’s award winning 2004 novel.  The movie was financed independently and was met with extremely mixed reviews from critics.  The film did make a slight profit but also is already developed a bit of a cult following.

I was extremely hesitant going into Cloud Atlas.  I am not the biggest Tom Hanks or Halle Berry fan so the idea of them both headlining a film from the people who made The Matrix Trilogy (which also had some serious problems) didn’t seem like a winner…plus it was three hours long.  When I started to hear reports from others who were surprisingly pleased, I decided to check it out…and I’m glad I did.


This is not good…

To get it out there, Cloud Atlas really doesn’t have much of a plot and is more about ideas.  That is a key aspect to true science-fiction and Cloud Atlas is real sci-fi (which is ironic because the novel is generally classified as “fiction”…sci-fi scares away “real” readers).  The ideas presented in the story that time is really interwoven isn’t a new concept, but to show it on a grand scale is an interesting idea.  It also does a good job exploring the idea which include everything from true freedom to cannibalism.


I am not dressed for swimming!

The movie however is three hours long and feels it.  Despite its length, it is one of those movies you finish and think “I should watch that again”.  I know it was three hours, and it felt like three hours, but I also did not feel bored during those three hours.  The stories were compelling enough to keep me involved.  Don’t let it frighten you.  Some stories are more interesting than others (I do like the future stories), but for the most part, they are tied together in the three hours in a way that if you don’t like one of the stories you aren’t forced to watch it long.


Scarier than anything else in the movie!

As for the Tom Hanks and Halle Berry aspect of the story which worried me, Halle Berry seemed to fare a bit better in the movie than Hanks.  I really enjoyed the performance by Doona Bae as the enslaved worker in Neo-Seoul and found her portions really compelling.  The humor part of the story is largely provided by Jim Broadbent’s 2012 storyline which also has Hugo Weaving playing a very creepy nurse named Noakes (who reminds me a lot of a combination of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s Nurse Ratchet and Balbricker from Porky’s).  Other major players in the film include Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant.


I hope that is clean

With the actors playing multiple roles, it is provides an interesting overlap and adds to the idea that time is fluid.  It did bring some controversy to the film from people who didn’t like the idea of actors playing other races, but it was also part of the point of the movie and didn’t focus on one race, so I don’t know that it is a valid objection.

Visually, the movie is stunning.  To be able to present a period piece and a future film in one story is always interesting and the movie does it well.  It also ties into the visuals by having similar events and looks as parallels in other stories.  It doesn’t make up for the pain the Wachowskis’ caused me from The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, but it does soften my opinion of them.

Cloud Atlas is definitely worth investing the time if you are a fan of real science-fiction.  The movie has a few speeches and lines that remind me a lot of A Clockwork Orange (including the strange double-talk of the future).  It might look like a bit of a mess on the outside, but Cloud Atlas  turned into one of the more interesting films I’ve seen in a while.  I think that the fact that you can rewatch Cloud Atlas will lend itself to making the film one of those films that eventually has quite a following and isn’t forgotten.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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