So the Wachowski "brothers" have joined forces with German director Tom Tykwer and created a new film. It's an adaptation of the David Mitchell cult novel Cloud Atlas, which was deemed unfilmable. Then they've got actors playing multiple roles in different periods, to underline the point that we are all connected, even across time. My head hurts.
Actually, there's no reason to panic. Within the first 3 minutes we get a crash course in this film's universe, so we know what to expect. The story jumps around between the six different story lines, so fast that you'll think you've tuned into the recap for the final episode of a 10-hour miniseries, or perhaps some over-eager trailer. It'll quickly dawn on you that, yes, this is in fact pure, unadulterated nonsense.
Tom Hanks stars as a caveman from the future, who talks like Jar Jar, as he tries to help space-woman Halle Berry. There's a plot line about a gay composer, who goes to work, assisting another composer. There's a guy on a ship, who becomes friends with a slave. Jim Broadbent gets locked up in an old people's home because he owes money. Jim Sturgess plays an Asian guy who falls in love with an artificial woman, in a dystopian future... and so on. Meanwhile Hugo Weaving runs around playing assorted bad guys (including a female nurse), and behind the scenes, a tireless makeup crew works overtime to make sure everyone looks as silly as possible. Honestly, this is the most ridiculous makeup job (design wise) since John Travolta tried to look like an alien in Battlefield Earth, or Jack Lemon pranced around in high heels in Some Like it Hot.
The connection between the story lines are feeble at best, and this, combined with the directors' choice of makeup and set design creates an abomination of a movie, which comes across like a $100 million, 3 hour long episode of Little Britain. This uneven mess jumps from tiny intimate dramatic moments, to large-scale, almost clownish set-pieces, and then back again. Sometimes the film cuts back and forth between two scenes, in rapid Michael Bay tempo, other times a scene will go on uninterrupted for hours. The sets are sometimes breathtakingly beautiful, other times they looks like they were slapped together with cardboard by children. The effects are equally uneven.
A few things in the film are consistent, though. None of the stories have any emotional impact and they are all boring. Also, every single actor is miscast, no matter what role they play in what storyline.
I don't know if the book makes any sense, but I could see this kind of story work on print. It doesn't work on film, though. Not the way it's been done here anyway. In the hands of the Wachowski-Tykwer triumvirate Cloud Atlas is a pointless, overlong movie, trapped in a bubble of self-obsessed naval gazing. It appears to be standing center stage, laughing at its own jokes, without realizing or caring that it's performing for an empty theater.
This is the fourth miss in a row for the Wachowski "brothers". I wonder how long they'll be allowed to waste other people's money like this.