Thursday, 6 June 2013

Cloud Atlas Thoughts

I finally saw Cloud Atlas today and found it both very interesting but also very confused film that I don't think ever really hit its mark. I think it's a movie that is trying to tell us about the human condition and our existence, but when you're telling a SciFi movie like that, you really must make sure your audience does actually understand your meaning, otherwise it can come off as random incoherent babbling. Sadly Cloud Atlas, though commendable for trying to be intelligent SciFi and more than just another explosive movie, feels like it is heading for this big crescendo revelation that it never quite happens.
I'm not really sure what story this movie was trying to tell. That we're all connected? I guess but that's kinda implied before you've even watched the movie.
Was it about souls, love, slavery, the afterlife?

I will admit I have not read the novel this was based on but I have heard that it was good. However, a work of art should stand on it's own, and while unlike many of my pompous contemporaries I find that some of the film adaptations are often better than the original source material. An example of this for me is the Lord of the Rings films, which I felt were far more succinct and felt stronger in overall narrative than the books. Those films did not need any "homework" to understand the movie and Cloud Atlas should be no different. In the end I was very confused by the movie and that's not a good sign. Any one of the stories in the movie would have actually worked very well as singular movies, but even with the 3 hour runtime none of them quite get the development they need and instead it all comes off as an incoherent mess. Any of these stories would have worked better than the whole in the end. Because there is no truly tying thread to it all, nothing that would make an audience member say "Ah riiiight I get it now" this is what it's all been about.

In many ways it has a similar problem that I feel Game of Thrones has too, but where that show succeeds in many ways because of the length and uniting threads of the story. Instead in the end the movie gets lost in its own mythos, unable to have a single theme and trying to tell multiple ones about our existence with nothing to tie them together except perhaps that they're all human experiences. But that's not enough in the end and the movie just doesn't work overall.

I have a theory about movies, they should get better every time you watch them, but at the same time they should get their point across and their general message on the first viewings the rest is in the details. On this part Cloud Atlas fails, and quite miserably so.

 It's a shame really because ever since films like Inception,  I'd hoped intelligent but interesting mainstream SciFi was making a comeback. When I'd heard about this fascinating jaunt through time by the creators of The Matrix, I'd hoped that something might come out of this that would be awesome, instead we got this, a movie that I'm sure made perfect sense in the minds of its creators but was a complete convoluted mess on the screen in the end. What was its meaning? I have no idea, it's clearly trying to convey a multitude of them but as such loses its focus and basically just says "Hey, um... Reincarnation!" without really stating its implications or what this story is trying to tell us.