Cloud Atlas

Director: Tom Tykwer and The Wachowskis
Year Released: 2012
Rating: 2.0

Six stories, from the past all the way to the future in Neo-Korea, are presented by three directors known for their visual acuity and featuring talented performers playing multiple roles (Tom Hanks and Halle Berry each get six characters a piece). As much as I want to applaud the filmmakers for their ambition and the makeup team for doing an astounding job transforming the actors and actresses into various forms (Halle Berry as a cyborg?), it needs to be said that ambition does not necessarily translate into a triumph, and as hard as they try - working from David Mitchell's novel - to 'unite' the disparate narratives, the constant flip-flopping between time-frames and scenarios is disorienting and frustrating and the collective intention of the pieces to create this sense of humanism (about being responsible, about caring about the future, about making smart decisions) comes across as quaint and, frankly, shallow. For example, a great artist such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gets name-checked, but the depths Solzhenitsyn reached regarding existence and suffering are but a trifle in the hands of technical wizards worried more about the appearance of their concepts than the legitimate and painful struggles of actual human beings. Of the segments, only the Cavendish and the Frobisher stories have any discernible effect on a personal level.