- Visual/Special Effects
- Makeup and Prosthetics
Cloud Atlas is an artistic adventure through space and time that will keep audiences entertained through its duration. Unfortunately, film suffers from the poor connection of its intertwining stories which creates unanswered questions and loose ends; however, independently, each story is beautiful in its own regard. From beginning to end, Cloud Atlas is epic and enthralling but overall fails to deliver.
Based off the novel of the same title by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas attempts to tell six stories throughout the past, present and future worlds. Several characters don different garbs in each of the stories, often changing their age, race and even sex, and somehow the stories are supposed to connect. Cloud Atlas generally seems to be about helping one another for karma’s sake since we may never know where death will takes us. It tries to pose notions of deja vu in our everyday encounters, insinuating that our souls are always connected to others, no matter the time or place.
Above all else, Cloud Atlas is a breathtakingly beautiful film. The special effects and computer generated images are absolutely jaw-dropping. Combining the talents and power of Method Studios LA, Rise Visual Effects Studios, Trixter Film and a number of countless artists made this film a moving piece of art.
As someone with aspirations of breaking into the production industry, a film such as Cloud Atlas would be a dream to work on. The artists created new worlds, new technology and new vehicles, which, in combination with the cinematography of Frank Griebe and John Toll, probably helped compile the films budget of over $100 million, but it was well worth it. Cloud Atlas’s visuals are like Tron meets Harry Potter meets King Kong, and it certainly made for an exciting thrill ride.
Since many of the same actors are used in the different stories, it was imperative to give each character completely different looks. Teaming up costume designers Kym Barrett and Pierre-Yves Gayraud created pure magic onscreen as the costumes were spot on in the past, present, and the future. Each piece of wardrobe matched the scenery, which made for very convincing future societies.
Filmefex Crew’s makeup and prosthetics work took the portrayal of the film’s tribes and societies to another level. The artists were able to create new ages, races, and even some sex changes for the characters. From tattoos to scars and even to teeth, the makeup and prosthetics team spared no expense in taking the smallest details into consideration.
An All Star Cast
With an all-star cast, it’s difficult for any one particular actor to stand out, although many had several shining moments.
Tom Hanks is commendable for his wide range of accents, dialects, postures and other defining physical attributes. The combination of his characterization and the makeup and made him often unrecognizable — a stunning feat for such a well known actor.
Ben Whishaw is one of the most dramatic actors in the bunch as he delivers a heart-felt performance which had me waiting for his return on screen.
My personal favorite actor of the entire cast was easily Jim Broadbent. His zany characters added a much needed comedic relief, but he refrained from being too over the top. Although I’m not familiar with much of the English actor’s work, I certainly look forward to revisiting his older films.
Playing the Waiting Game
Originally, the novel was deemed “unfilmable” by authors and filmmakers alike, and it’s easy to see why. For a film requiring three directors and three hours of running time, it’s obvious Cloud Atlas bit off more than it could chew.
Although the stories used the same actors, I waited three hours for the stories to converge. I needed “ah-ha” moment, where it would all make sense; unfortunately, that just never happened. The whole audience was in whispers with what was going on. Trying to keep track of who was who, the plots and which time period was when was exhausting and simply not worth the payoff. Everyone was waiting for something, and the end result left me unsatisfied and lost.
There was a lot of uproar surrounding this issue and I’m going to have to agree the majority. Although it was admirable, and for the most part worked with other makeup and prosthetics, seeing Caucasians actors take on Asian characters was just uncomfortable.
Jim Strugess’s character is the most striking example of how the prosthetic didn’t work. I could easily see how it could be offensive. Although Strugess was supposed to look 100% Asian, his prosthetics made him look more like a Star Trek alien than a human. At first, I thought there was supposed to be something wrong with Strugess, as though his face was injured in an accident, but it turned out there were other Caucasians turned Asian with similar “disfigurements.”
Overall: 3 out of 5 Stars
Cloud Atlas was a let down. From what many of the critics were saying, including Robert Ebert deeming the film as “one of the most ambitious films ever made,” and giving it 4 out of 4 stars, I was expecting some incredible cinematic experience full of fantasy and adventure. What I was left with were beautiful images paired with a nonsensical plot which never came full circle. Cloud Atlas is definitely worth seeing, but be prepared to leave the theatre confused and unsatisfied. It’s a good movie that should’ve been great.
‘Cloud Atlas’ Trailer