“Cloud Atlas” explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future. Each member of the ensemble appears in multiple roles as the stories move through time.
“Cloud Atlas” is a collection of six stories taking place in various centuries, past, present and future. The proposition is that we are all connected in some way by six degrees of separation – a theme the movie failed to execute well. Adapted from a novel by David Mitchell, this two hour and fifty-two minute panorama seemed familiar, like a combination of “Apocalypto”, “The Matrix”, “Star Wars III”, and “Amistad”. The exhausting part is trying to keep the characters and plots separate, since several different roles are played by the same actors – sometimes the same character in a different phase of life, and other times completely different characters altogether. The major difference between the novel and the movie is that the former is told in chronological order. For some unknown reason, the filmmakers cut the movie into a hodgepodge of scenes, tossing the viewer back and forth like a ship riding out a storm – a proper metaphor since that’s where one of the stories takes place.
As for the stories themselves; each one was fascinating in its own right, albeit the one similarity that tied them together was the amount of graphic violence that takes place with precious little redemption to justify the suffering. There was also a fair amount of nudity, sex, profanity and drug use throughout.
Clearly, “Cloud Atlas” is not family fare and therefore we cannot award it our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal.