Cloud Atlas Blu-Ray Review
I was one of the few people last year that made it a point to see Cloud Atlas in theaters, Tom Tykwer and The Wachowski's epic science fiction film based off of David Mitchell's novel. Revisiting it again on Blu-Ray, I feel the same way as I did then, in that it is unlike any other film and its sheer ambition and scope is something that must be admired. Spanning across six different timelines, with a large ensemble cast, each playing a multitude of roles, the story is focused on how all of these characters are interconnected. From the 19th century to the far future of civilization as we would know it, Cloud Atlas is a film that demands much, but is well worth the effort.
Even before the film's title is shown, Cloud Atlas tests the viewers patience, by giving us glimpses into each of the six different stories, at random times. This gives the impression for the tone of each of the segments, but makes it difficult to see how they interconnect as a whole story. While a majority of people would be turned off by this, I feel as though it is as if Tykwer and The Wachowski's are offering a film that refuses to be dumbed down and demands the audience to connect the links that tie everything together. Each of the segments are also distinctively different from one another, due to each story being its own genre. While at first it would seem as if a tale in the past or the recent present could never be in tune with a sweeping sci-fi segment of the far future, but the filmmakers prove that it works and gets better as the film progresses.
The film was in production for four years and took an incredible amount of work to make it fully realized, but the payoff is absolutely stunning. There have been people that have complained about the fact that actor's playing different ethnicities comes off as being racist, but I never felt that was ever the case. While there would have been a way to make things work, thematically, to have different actors for each of the different timelines, it doesn't make it as rewarding to actually see a character's arc transform throughout each of the different time periods. Reincarnation, faith, love and many of these eternal themes that are present throughout the film are showcased through these actors, who transform themselves through make up and seeing whether their actions in a past life, will truly haunt them in the future.
As much as I love the film though, Cloud Atlas still has its own faults as well. The first hour, out of three total, can be a bit of a chore to get through. Its a whole lot of set up for stuff that pays off later, but some stories feel like they have much more to offer than others and when they cut away to one that you're really getting into, the plug gets pulled and you're left waiting another 20 minutes until you get back to it. Even feeling like this, its still pretty easy to recognize how hard it must have been to make a film of this magnitude on screen and I feel as though its easy to look past these small boring parts, because everything in the film eventually comes together.
Warner Bros. Blu-Ray disc of Cloud Atlas is just as impressive as the film itself, with an incredible video presentation, some nice sounding audio tracks and an hours worth of special features. Cloud Atlas is presented in an AVC, encoded 1080p video track, with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. On home video, the film looks just as good as it did in theaters a few months ago and I'm glad the that same presentation was preserved. The color palates for each of the stories are suitable for each of the stories and the clarity contained in this transfer are truly impressive. The audio on the disc is showcased in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, that delivers an aural experience that truly compliments the film's beautiful visuals. From quiet dialog exchanges to futuristic chase sequences, the audio manages to express a fantastic dynamic range, that gets both the quiet and loud moments just right. The only extras are a few behind the scenes videos, that explore a bunch of different aspects of the production. One explores the difficult task of adapting the dense novel into a book, while another shows the cast and their take on playing multiple character's in one film. While there are some elements that repeat, there's a lot of great information to be found in all of the extra features and manages to be insightful to the major undertaking that was taken to make Cloud Atlas into a reality.
Cloud Atlas isn't for everyone and there will be people that outright hate it for many reasons, but I feel that it is one of the most daring attempts at filmmaking I've seen in a long time and I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to experience it.
will be available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Download on 5/14