The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Cloud Atlas | Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, Hugo Weaving | Review

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

  3_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 Cloud Atlas | Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, Hugo Weaving | Review


David Mitchell wrote the 2004 novel from which this epic (the work of three directors, no less) springs eternal.  That’s because the film spans 500 years, morphing souls and lifetimes, changing the genders and races of its protagonists no matter how far-fetched.  Brave?  Yes.  Ambitious?  Yes.  Effective?  No.

You will need an atlas to navigate your way through the multiple storylines (six) that speed past your consciousness at a hyperactive pace in Cloud Atlas.  It’s as if you are at the mercy of a young video game enthusiast with a nano-second attention span – and he has the remote.  The channel flipping has the urgent pacing of a film that has too much to do in too short a time, even if that time takes three hours.  It’s quite a long journey for a complex tale served in bite-sized pieces.

Each actor has multiple roles (up to six!) in different eras, and the cast is impressive, including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Bae Doo Na, and Keith David.  You will encounter Hanks and Berry everywhere, Broadbent occasionally, and Sarandon at widely-spaced intervals.

You will discover whole new sides of Hugh Grant.  You will behold Keith David as an Asian political rebel leader and Bae Doo Na as a 19th century Caucasian bride (bustle included).  Oh yes, and Hugo Weaving is one big, bad female jailer, er…nurse.

A sampling of the plotlines include that of a scientist with a secret and a savvy reporter, a man trapped in an assisted care facility, a slave in the 19th century who forges an unlikely alliance, a primitive, post-apocalyptic island visited by spaceships in the 24th century, a brilliant, tragic music composer from 1930’s Cambridge who risks forbidden love, and the awakening of a futuristic revolutionary/martyr in a place called New Seoul.

The narratives keep on coming, held together by a recurring birthmark and your favorite familiar faces in different makeup, latex and prosthetics.  An official synopsis states that Cloud Atlas “explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future” and “everything is connected.”

You are just going to have to take their word for it.

“They” are the three writer/directors, siblings Lana (formerly Larry) and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run).  The trio makes a great effort to capture the enormous expanse of events in a cohesive manner, and the visuals don’t disappoint.  There’s plenty of exposition, some of it in grating pigeon English but none of it revelatory.

Like a bakery display cake the whole thing looks beautiful and does the job of attracting, but not satisfying the consumer.  There’s definitely more style than substance here, but not for lack of trying.

The massive end credits, like the multiple roles, are a novelty in themselves, and the whole, non-linear mass of tentacles might be worth a gander just for the spectacle and the intrepid attempt at capturing interwoven (they say) reincarnated lives for mass consumption.

It’s just that this cake was not made for eating, no matter how grand it looks.




You are here: Home Jacqueline Monahan Cloud Atlas | Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, Hugo Weaving | Review