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Cloud Atlas ***

Cloud Atlas - Warner Bros.

Is it worth $10? Yes

“Cloud Atlas” is the type of ambitious project that Hollywood needs, but not the type audiences want. Most people aren’t willing to watch something for almost three hours that has what could be perceived as a confusing plot. So as the Wachowski siblings (“The Matrix”) and Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) bring us a riveting and entertaining story spanning six timelines, the question remains: does it work?

Adapted from a novel by David Mitchell, “Cloud Atlas” is an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present, and future. Everything is connected: An 1849 diary of an ocean voyage across the Pacific; letters from a composer to his friend; a thriller about a murder at a nuclear power plant; a farce about a publisher in a nursing home; a rebellious clone in futuristic Korea; and the tale of a tribe living in post-apocalyptic Hawaii far in the future.

The cast was top notch (even Halle Berry, whom I usually dislike), and it was impressive to see them all acting in different time periods, prosthetics, and as different genders. Everyone put on their game faces and tried their hardest, and it really shows; standouts include Tom Hanks (“Cast Away”), Hugo Weaving (“V for Vendetta”), Jim Sturgess (“21”), Jim Broadbent ("Iris"), Hugh Grant ("Love Actually") and Ben Whishaw (upcoming “Skyfall”).

One of the biggest problems I had with “Cloud Atlas” was the story itself. Even though this is almost three hours long it didn’t seem like enough time to tell each story. Due to them having six storylines and time periods they couldn’t put enough time into any one story to make it really feel fleshed out (except the nursing home one). Not to mention within an hour of starting more than 20 people (mostly seniors) had already walked out of the theater due to how confusing things start off (but things clear up if you give it time).

Cloud Atlas - Warner Bros.

On top of that the entire post-apocalyptic story, while I’m sure it was important in the book, is downplayed. Not to mention the dialect people speak in that time period is absurd, hard to follow, and sounds completely ridiculous coming from Hanks and Berry – it really takes you out of that story. That’s the true-true.

The cinematography, visual effects, and music were all what I have come to expect from a Wachowski film, and helped sink you into this world and story. It was weird because the plot felt like something that really should have been made into a TV mini-series, but it had all the glitz and glamour of a big Hollywood production.

“Cloud Atlas” is definitely something I encourage everyone to see as this is what going to the theater is for. We need to support movies that take us outside of our comfort zone, and give us something new and unique. “Cloud Atlas” has a great message, interesting stories, entertaining plots, quality acting, amazing effects, fantastic prosthetics and wardrobe, and a captivating soundtrack. In order for this story to have really worked, though, they needed to make it about an hour longer to flesh out the stories that felt incomplete.

The good news is the almost three hour runtime ends quickly. Some other viewers at my screening commented on how they were hoping it wouldn’t end, because they do a great job captivating you. Just try not to drink too much soda, because it’s a long hold until the end.

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