Cloud Atlas [IMAX]

Disclaimer: I read David Mitchell's sprawling epic about 4 months before watching the movie.

This is the Oscar-bait of the season that caught no fish. A 3-hour epic, and with due credit to the directors - The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer - it never did feel like 3 hours even for someone who had read the book. The main reason is because of the many changes to the book that they have made which kept the story slightly fresher (I recommend reading this website: But like many movies these days that are based on books, the movies tend to be a bit more dumb down, with obvious themes and purposes explained outright to the audience. The audience, unlike the readers, seldom get the chance to ruminate and think about what they had just seen, or given a chance to interpret characters' actions, thoughts or even the author's as they deem fit. Instead, we are asked to think what the directors want us to think. Which can be annoying. Also, these movies tend to be less ambiguous and everything almost always get tied up in a nice knot at the end. For most parts, I do not have anything against the changes the directors have made to Mitchell's book, but I think the romance angles are forced a bit too hard into each storyline (but Robert Frobisher's was actually rather touching and appropriate) and the political background of neo-Seoul is too brief to really let the audience feel the need for a revolution. I applaud the use of the same actors repeatedly throughout the movie (although the use of Caucasians cosmetically-altered to appear "Asians" is rather offensive, and of all places to reflect they use Korea, where more stars there are now looking more Caucasians due to the advent of plastic surgery and aesthetic medicine). That gives the audience an added layer of interconnectiveness which underlies one of the main themes of the book. But, pity, none of the actors were outstandingly brilliant. Perhaps, the standouts were Ben Wishaw, Doona Bae and Jim Broadbent. The directing was quite seamless throughout all six stories and the editing was phenomenon to not make the stories confusing or messy. That bit was very well done, with the cuts and edits, interlocking all the stories. The score was very appropriate, and I truly want to get the "Cloud Atlas Sextet". I can easily watch this movie, or read the book again, but I suspect that some audience may find some difficulty in embracing this ambitious and sprawling movie because essentially it is just six short stories without any overarching plot. They are linked together by common themes, which despite the film-makers many attempts at jamming it down our throats, may still be missed by the viewer leaving them with a sense of loss and frustration. But if one can appreciate the ambition of the story teller then one will be well rewarded with a fascinating experience about human lives, the intertwine of fate and destiny, power and control, and (in this case) love. Although, I can see why it has not been loved by the Oscars, there is a lack of great acting, directing is not perfect, though the movie is coherent, it does not stand out, and it is only good because of Mitchell's original ideas. For once, I do recommend reading the book in conjunction with watching this movie for a more complex emotional journey. Like "Life of Pi", another rather unfilmable book has been filmed, but unlike "Life of Pi" in all its beauty, "Cloud Atlas" is a more emotionally satisfying movie. IMAX not necessary.


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