July 03, 2014
Have you seen the theatrical cut of Cloud Atlas? Did you enjoy it? No matter the answers to these questions, this is an edit worth seeking out. I, for one, did see the original and felt kind of "meh" about it. I like a lot of things about it, I dislike some things, but ultimately I feel like it doesn't earn its profundities. The new structure in this edit certainly makes it easier to follow, and spending more time with these characters instead of jumping away just as we get a handle on what's going on gives us more time to consider the meaning of what we're seeing. Unfortunately, it also wreaks havoc with the pacing, meaning you really feel the runtime. Also, in compartmentalizing the stories, it breaks up what was an unclassifiable meditation on life and humanity into a series of vignettes with wildly disparate tones. You'll be watching a romantic tragedy for a few minutes, then a comedy, then a sci-fi actioner, and so on. I like all of those things, but if you're not digging a particular story or style, you're going to be stuck watching it for a bit anyway, twice.
Aside from all of this, though, Cloud Atlas: Everything is Connected is a fascinating exercise in editing! When you consider that the film started life with a mosaic structure and a (gorgeous) ever-present soundtrack tying everything together, watching these bits and pieces reorganized into larger chunks that work on their own while still retaining much of the (gorgeous, truly) soundtrack is astounding. There are a (very) few moments where you can sense the edits or hear a bit of dialed-down soundtrack in the background, but they are few and far between and don't even come close to ruining the experience. This is an impressive edit, make no mistake.
I still don't think the movie is very successful in what it set out to do, but I believe it's still worth watching. Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski's shot the hell out of this movie, the production design is terrific, the cast all really went for it (Tom Hanks especially is a blast), the makeup while frequently distracting is still really interesting, and did I mention the score? So even if it's all a bunch of hooey, it's nonsense made by pros. Oh, and the HD MP4 looked great, no complaints.