Channel Surfing
Cloud Atlas
Review by Ross Anthony

This is a complicated work - a myriad of seemingly unrelated stories in a variety of locations happening in the past, present, and future. One could draw a similarity to the experience of channel surfing, watching several programs intermittently employing a ready remote and dexterous thumbs. But don't let this comparison dissuade you from giving "Cloud Atlas" a try. Unlike channel surfing, there's no way to miss important storyline progressions, the filmmakers will present them to you as they deem artistic, dramatic, meaningful and entertaining. In fact, I greatly appreciated that the filmmakers allowed me the opportunity to make sense of the scattered information on my own. It's certainly a challenge, but trust yourself, trust the movie, and just like life, take it as it comes.

Are you eclectic when it comes to genre? Great. When you buy a ticket to "Cloud Atlas," you'll be viewing a sci-fi action flick, a romantic period piece, a spiritually themed work, a 1970's tough-reporter thriller, etc. etc. And yes, it all eventually connects into an artfully woven tapestry. At the end of the day, "Cloud Atlas" sports a new-age perspective. I respect it, for writing its doctrine into a very compelling entertaining story. There are only a few moments where voiced-over narrative spoils the productions show-don't-tell discipline. They play like missed notes in an otherwise overwhelmingly beautiful symphony. A few other imperfections mar this near-masterpiece. For the most part, the costuming and make up will knock your socks off. Still, there are instances where sub-perfect cosmetics subdue the magic. And one important scene near the end, doesn't quite live up to its build in direction and scripting.

Some storylines succeed mightier than others. Kudos especially to the sci-fi storyline - intense character drama and action blend powerfully. However, the futuristic tribal line speaks with an invented language twist which reminded me (in an unwelcome way) of Star Wars' least favorite character - Jar Jar. Further, at least at my screening, all too often, the dialogue in general failed to be crystal clear. That could have been the audio settings at that particular theatre. Nonetheless, even if you miss a few words here and there, it's still a marvel, a 3-hour visual feast. Open your mind and your soul and have a look.

Says co-writer/director Lana Wachowski about the book Cloud Atlas, "It strikes so many powerful notes. There's truth to be found in simple, individual observations that anyone can relate to, but, by setting those moments into a broader dramatic context and with the sweep of time, you see the human condition in a fascinating way."

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  • Cloud Atlas. Copyright © 2012.
  • Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, James D'arcy, Hugh Grant. Screenplay and Direction by Lana and Andy Wachowski, Tom Tykwer. Based upon the novel by David Mitchell. Warner Brothers, A Company, Ard Degeto.

Grade..........................A- (3/4)

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Copyright © 1998-2023 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Thursday, 25-Oct-2012 09:18:24 PDT