Cloud Atlas (2012) Review

I did want to see this movie only because I had heard so much about it.  I also like Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, so I was definitely curious.  I never watched the trailer, and I also did not read the book beforehand, but I plan to pick up a copy sometime later in the next few days just to see how different (or similar) the story is between the two mediums.

I was originally supposed to see Flight (2012) the Denzel Washington movie the weekend I ended up seeing Cloud Atlas, but Flight had ended up getting sold out.  This movie wasn’t a bad back-up choice, though it was a lot bloodier than I thought it was going to be.  Those familiar with my viewing tastes know that I actively try to avoid anything super bloody or gory like the plague, but by the time I figured that out for this movie, I was already locked in, hahaha.

I’m not exactly sure if the story can be considered time travel, but it is definitely one of those “love across the ages,” type of stories.  It’s like the other half of the story told in The Adjustment Bureau, if that makes any kind of sense.  I don’t think this is necessarily a new concept, because I think there are other movies and books out there with a similar love transcending all type of theme, and I know there’s definitely a Japanese manga or two that uses that same idea as well.

The reincarnation of characters was interesting, but it was also confusing at times.  Some of the cast did get “recycled” for multiple roles, but some of the repeats didn’t entirely make sense.  For example, I think Hanks and Jim Sturgess went back and forth on who played the main “good guy” role, but when Hanks wasn’t being that main character, he was playing an antagonist role.  Unless I missed something, I’m not sure if that move really made sense to me because then there were some inconsistencies with who people “reincarnated” as in later time periods.

I also had mixed feelings about the Neo-Seoul scenes in the film.  On the one hand, I’m glad that I feel like recently I’m starting to see more Asians playing bigger roles in movies.  On the other hand, I was disappointed that there was only one or two Asian women used (from what I could tell, anyway), who were just digitally multiplied over and over.  I was also let down by the fact that Doona Bae is still playing one of those Asian stereotype-like roles.  I know that there’s been controversy over the fact that more Asians weren’t casted in the movie, and I do have mixed feelings about that, but I think the bigger issue for me was that I’m not sure the one person they did end up casting was the best choice for that role.  I think there are plenty of other Asian actresses out there that are far more talented and might have been a better fit for the part (not to mention they probably would have stood out a lot more), but that’s just my personal opinion.

As for the choice to “yellowface” actors instead of casting more Asian actors and actresses, I think I see both points of view.  On the one hand yes, I do think it would have been nice if the filmmakers had considered casting more Asian people for the roles.  On the other hand, I also understand the position of the filmmakers; since the cast was being recycled over and over across different time periods, it kind of made sense that they used the same characters for the Neo-Seoul roles.

On a side note, I thought Jim Sturgess looked amazing in yellowface make up, and I actually think his character was my favorite for the entire movie.  In fact, I’ll admit to being a little disappointed to find out after the movie that it was him in that role and not someone of mixed heritage.  Not to say Sturgess is a bad-looking guy, because he’s not.  However, my friend and I definitely couldn’t take our eyes off him and we were both so glad that his role as that character lasted for a good portion of the film.

I’m also not sure how people in the GLBT community felt about the portions of the film featuring the two gay lovers, but I actually thought that part was tastefully done.  I don’t think any of it was overly forced or playing heavily on gay stereotypes.

I found the film to be very visually appealing.  Parts of it reminded me of the trailer to Prometheus (2012), and other parts reminded me a lot of the remake of Total Recall (2012).  It’s one of those movies where I found myself wishing that some of those sets were real just so I could experience it for myself.  Had it not been for the more bloody scenes that were personally tough for me to watch, I think I’d probably buy this film for my DVD shelf as I think it has decent re-watch value; however, I will say that the story is like a puzzle and not all of it works all of the time.

The movie is about 3 hours long, and definitely feels like it.  If you were able to sit through movies like the Titanic (1997), the Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lord of the Rings franchises, however, then you’ll more than likely be fine.


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