Box art for Cloud Atlas

  Cloud Atlas

drama, sci-fi & fantasy


A single story that unfolds in multiple timelines over the span of 500 years. Characters meet and reunite in different eras. Featuring an all-star cast led by Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
    66%
  • Audience Score
    66%

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 15
Consumerism
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
Language
4 out of 5
Positive messages
2 out of 5
Positive role models
2 out of 5
Sex
4 out of 5
Violence
4 out of 5

Enormous scale and spectacle, but weak characters, story.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cloud Atlas -- the Wachowskis' massive sci-fi epic that takes place over six time periods, with several actors (including Tom Hanks and Halle Berry) playing roles in each -- has strong fantasy violence, including bloody attacks and battles with both guns and blades. Main characters die, and one commits suicide. Language is strong, though sporadic, with several uses of both "f--k" and "s--t." There are a few sex scenes, with one female appearing topless. Many characters drink, a few smoke cigarettes, and two smoke pot. Like Avatar, the movie's sheer, overwhelming size, scale, and spectacle may appeal to many audiences, and teens will likely be clamoring to see it; whether they'll enjoy it is less clear.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about Cloud Atlas' violence. Does "fantasy" violence have a different impact than "realistic" violence? How does the violence contribute to the story in this movie?
  • How does the movie portray sex/sexual relationships?
  • If the movie's theme is "connections" and events resonating throughout time, what are some examples of this? Can you think of a way that this has happened in real life?
  • Which character is the most admirable? Which story affected you the most?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    66%
    reviews counted: 20
    see all Cloud Atlas reviews
  • Audience

    66%

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: It's funny, violent and prodigiously romantic; it has immense heart and more gorgeous cinematic moments than I can describe.

- Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com, Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fresh: "Cloud Atlas" deserves praise if only for not being the baggy, pretentious disaster it could have been in other hands.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Friday, October 26, 2012

Rotten: he best thing about Cloud Atlas is that it could, and should, turn into a properly divisive film... but one has to ask: does it allow for immersion? Even as we applaud the dramatic machinery, are we being kept emotionally at bay?

- Anthony Lane, New Yorker, Thursday, October 25, 2012

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Another novel adaptation, this one a more recent publication. Surprisingly the film is an independent film made in Germany but you wouldn't think it, a huge budget, a cast of stars, directed by the Wachowski's plus the whole thing comes across like a Spielberg production, well to me it did. The film is very much like 'A.I.' in my opinion, the reason being I'm sure it will split opinions right down the middle. I can well understand people loving the film but I can well understand people disliking the film for various reasons. There is a lot to take in and at almost 3 hours the film could come across as hard work. So in case you don't know the film is basically like an old Tarantino concept, in other words its six different stories that are all woven into one, kinda. The stories are set over a vast time span from the 18th Century, the 30's, the 70's, the present day, early 22nd Century and the early 24th Century. I will give a brief little review for each section without trying to ruin the plots for you hehe. 1. The mid 18th Century, an American lawyer travels to the Chatham Islands (Pacific Ocean, southeast of New Zealand) to conclude business for his father-in-law. This story is set around black slavery and is probably the most predictable really. The sequences look realistic, rustic and lavish with a stunning old sea galleon and some tremendous location visuals. But to be honest this tale was rather average, much time is spend on the ship watching the main character 'Ewing' die slowly, but the moral of the story is obviously a good one. 2. Mid 30's UK, a bisexual young man works as an amanuensis for an old composer. The tale is set around a homosexual relationship and how (in this era) that could destroy a man's career and life. Easily the most bold and emotional section of the film simply because you don't often see gay relations like this in major films and it paints a taboo subject in a good light, somewhat. Ben Whishaw's role as the bisexual young man is (for me) the best performance of the film by far, the same can be said for James D'Arcy as 'Sixsmith' his lover. Again everything looks period perfect, the costumes are glorious and Broadbent's nasty blackmailing composer rounds off this story flawlessly. 3. 1973, California and this is Keith David's 'Shaft' moment. A journalist is trying to uncover the true facts behind the safety of a new nuclear reactor run by its shady US owner played by...Hugh Grant?. Again I must give kudos for the visuals here, costumes, cars, sets, props etc...its all very 70's. Unfortunately this story looks like a bog standard US cops/detective TV show, you half expect 'Starsky and Hutch' to pull up. On top of that its acted and played out like a crummy bog standard US cop TV show, was that the idea?, guess it was. 4. Present day, almost, 2012, UK. An aging book publisher comes into the money big time when his current author kills a critic. The author happens to be a local criminal gangster, thusly his actions sends his book soaring up the charts making tonnes of cash. A tale of two halves this one, firstly you have what I just described, then when this gangster sends his men after 'Cavendish' the publisher for their share of the profits, he must escape into hiding. What follows is a kind of twisted 'Roald Dahl' type children's fairytale as 'Cavendish' is tricked into an old age home from hell. Broadbent once again in a tour de force of acting really nails this character perfectly with his typically eccentric British oddball looks. A kind of dark comedy this story, mostly narrated by Broadbent but with wonderful performances by a cast of pensioners and also from Weaving as the evil 'Nurse Noakes'...that character is so 'Roald Dahl-like' its untrue. A little gem this one, quite amusing with some terrific facial expressions and visual tomfoolery from Broadbent. 'is this some sort of kinky S&M hotel?!' 5. Set in a dystopian futuristic totalitarian state in Korea, the year is 2144. Clones are used for manual labour in various roles/jobs but are treated badly, like slaves. This story is told as an account by one clone in custody after her massive ordeal with a rebel movement set against the bad treatment of clones. By far the most exciting story in the film and easily the section where the Wachowski's love of sci-fi really shines through, you can tell its them. We've all seen 'The Matrix' (right?!), well here you can see that influence breaking through. That's not a bad thing I must stress, this short story could easily be a film in its own right, the characters are really good very intriguing, the visuals are stunning, I LOVED Neo Seoul and its blue neon highways! and the action is superb. The plot is kinda over used and cliched but it works well, you get behind 'Sonmi' the clone, you want her to succeed even though you already know what happens. Naturally comparisons to other sci-fi films are inevitable, 'Blade Runner' and 'I Robot' springs to mind right off the bat, but that doesn't detract from this excellent future set tale of a police state set in the wild East. 6. The year 2321 and it appears mankind has be almost wiped out. What is left are small tribes of people living on an island (Hawaii) in primitive conditions. There are also other tribes of people who have turned to cannibalism it seems and other people that somehow remain in touch with modern technology. This is the story that bookends the film, it is also one of the weakest in my opinion as its a typically silly sci-fi post apocalyptic story that raises many questions. Once again I can't say anything bad about the location visuals or acting but its just daft. Why would some people choose to live like primitives, some people choose to go about eating people, whilst all the while you could still live with modern technology, medicines, clothes, proper order etc...Did anyone else notice these folk all talked like 'Jar Jar Binks'??! the hallucinations of 'Zachery', the main character, aren't really explained, the cannibals are primitive like the rest but they have metal crossbows? etc.. All these short stories are interwoven amongst themselves throughout the entire film. This is admittedly one of the films issues as I'm sure some will feel confused and lost whilst trying to keep up with each tale. There are so many characters throughout, plus the fact that the actors play multiple characters in every story does make the film hard to follow at times. You find yourself trying to recall who plays who, or trying not to get mixed up with characters played by the same people in different stories. All the characters in the stories are reincarnated versions of their previous lives which we are seeing in each century/each story. So in some stories they are bad in some they are neutral etc...I'm not overly sure if their actions are suppose to effect the next incarnation though, or maybe redeem themselves in certain aspects, cos Weaving plays a bad guy all the way through...I think. Despite that anyone can see the powerful performances by the cast in this. I like Hugo Weaving as an actor very much and I can't fault the guy here, he plays mostly nasty pieces of work but damn it he's so flippin good. As mentioned Jim Broadbent is on fire, the guy can do no wrong, he's like an ugly version of Anthony Hopkins (no disrespect Jim). Still unsure why they would cast Grant in some odd choice roles, an all American company boss?!, a heavy?!!! (thug) and the cannibal chief! wouldn't be my choice. An odd entity really, you wouldn't think it was a Wachowski film (accept for the sci-fi bit) and the stories range from excellent to mundane. I found myself not really caring about certain plots and wanting them to spin on so we could get back to the more thrilling plots. I must also add that despite the effects and CGI being very very good throughout, the makeup on various characters is actually pretty bad haha. Using the same actors for various roles in various settings means people had to look Korean, Caucasian, female, old, bald, have different hair, coloured contacts etc...lets just say some times the actors looked good, sometimes like looked scary. On the whole I enjoyed this epic story telling immensely, didn't think I would but I did. The film does appear to be quite politically correct also in some stories when you think about it (homosexual relations, multicultural relations...the future of the human race in the final tale) and to be honest it does drag. There are plenty of times when you think the film is gonna end, maybe it should, but it doesn't, it goes ooooon. If this were indeed Spielberg then I'm sure some would say its close to a masterpiece, I don't think it is, for now, but its pretty close. The sheer amount of work and time to bring all this together is impressive, on top of that its a bloody good looking film with great acting. Thing is it may well take a few viewings to get to grips with it, I must admit to having to use the films (and novels) wiki to recap on all the stories. In time this could well be a classic.

- phubbs1, Sunday, April 28, 2013

4 stars

Another novel adaptation, this one a more recent publication. Surprisingly the film is an independent film made in Germany but you wouldn't think it, a huge budget, a cast of stars, directed by the Wachowski's plus the whole thing comes across like a Spielberg production, well to me it did. The film is very much like 'A.I.' in my opinion, the reason being I'm sure it will split opinions right down the middle. I can well understand people loving the film but I can well understand people disliking the film for various reasons. There is a lot to take in and at almost 3 hours the film could come across as hard work. So in case you don't know the film is basically like an old Tarantino concept, in other words its six different stories that are all woven into one, kinda. The stories are set over a vast time span from the 18th Century, the 30's, the 70's, the present day, early 22nd Century and the early 24th Century. I will give a brief little review for each section without trying to ruin the plots for you hehe. 1. The mid 18th Century, an American lawyer travels to the Chatham Islands (Pacific Ocean, southeast of New Zealand) to conclude business for his father-in-law. This story is set around black slavery and is probably the most predictable really. The sequences look realistic, rustic and lavish with a stunning old sea galleon and some tremendous location visuals. But to be honest this tale was rather average, much time is spend on the ship watching the main character 'Ewing' die slowly, but the moral of the story is obviously a good one. 2. Mid 30's UK, a bisexual young man works as an amanuensis for an old composer. The tale is set around a homosexual relationship and how (in this era) that could destroy a man's career and life. Easily the most bold and emotional section of the film simply because you don't often see gay relations like this in major films and it paints a taboo subject in a good light, somewhat. Ben Whishaw's role as the bisexual young man is (for me) the best performance of the film by far, the same can be said for James D'Arcy as 'Sixsmith' his lover. Again everything looks period perfect, the costumes are glorious and Broadbent's nasty blackmailing composer rounds off this story flawlessly. 3. 1973, California and this is Keith David's 'Shaft' moment. A journalist is trying to uncover the true facts behind the safety of a new nuclear reactor run by its shady US owner played by...Hugh Grant?. Again I must give kudos for the visuals here, costumes, cars, sets, props etc...its all very 70's. Unfortunately this story looks like a bog standard US cops/detective TV show, you half expect 'Starsky and Hutch' to pull up. On top of that its acted and played out like a crummy bog standard US cop TV show, was that the idea?, guess it was. 4. Present day, almost, 2012, UK. An aging book publisher comes into the money big time when his current author kills a critic. The author happens to be a local criminal gangster, thusly his actions sends his book soaring up the charts making tonnes of cash. A tale of two halves this one, firstly you have what I just described, then when this gangster sends his men after 'Cavendish' the publisher for their share of the profits, he must escape into hiding. What follows is a kind of twisted 'Roald Dahl' type children's fairytale as 'Cavendish' is tricked into an old age home from hell. Broadbent once again in a tour de force of acting really nails this character perfectly with his typically eccentric British oddball looks. A kind of dark comedy this story, mostly narrated by Broadbent but with wonderful performances by a cast of pensioners and also from Weaving as the evil 'Nurse Noakes'...that character is so 'Roald Dahl-like' its untrue. A little gem this one, quite amusing with some terrific facial expressions and visual tomfoolery from Broadbent. 'is this some sort of kinky S&M hotel?!' 5. Set in a dystopian futuristic totalitarian state in Korea, the year is 2144. Clones are used for manual labour in various roles/jobs but are treated badly, like slaves. This story is told as an account by one clone in custody after her massive ordeal with a rebel movement set against the bad treatment of clones. By far the most exciting story in the film and easily the section where the Wachowski's love of sci-fi really shines through, you can tell its them. We've all seen 'The Matrix' (right?!), well here you can see that influence breaking through. That's not a bad thing I must stress, this short story could easily be a film in its own right, the characters are really good very intriguing, the visuals are stunning, I LOVED Neo Seoul and its blue neon highways! and the action is superb. The plot is kinda over used and cliched but it works well, you get behind 'Sonmi' the clone, you want her to succeed even though you already know what happens. Naturally comparisons to other sci-fi films are inevitable, 'Blade Runner' and 'I Robot' springs to mind right off the bat, but that doesn't detract from this excellent future set tale of a police state set in the wild East. 6. The year 2321 and it appears mankind has be almost wiped out. What is left are small tribes of people living on an island (Hawaii) in primitive conditions. There are also other tribes of people who have turned to cannibalism it seems and other people that somehow remain in touch with modern technology. This is the story that bookends the film, it is also one of the weakest in my opinion as its a typically silly sci-fi post apocalyptic story that raises many questions. Once again I can't say anything bad about the location visuals or acting but its just daft. Why would some people choose to live like primitives, some people choose to go about eating people, whilst all the while you could still live with modern technology, medicines, clothes, proper order etc...Did anyone else notice these folk all talked like 'Jar Jar Binks'??! the hallucinations of 'Zachery', the main character, aren't really explained, the cannibals are primitive like the rest but they have metal crossbows? etc.. All these short stories are interwoven amongst themselves throughout the entire film. This is admittedly one of the films issues as I'm sure some will feel confused and lost whilst trying to keep up with each tale. There are so many characters throughout, plus the fact that the actors play multiple characters in every story does make the film hard to follow at times. You find yourself trying to recall who plays who, or trying not to get mixed up with characters played by the same people in different stories. All the characters in the stories are reincarnated versions of their previous lives which we are seeing in each century/each story. So in some stories they are bad in some they are neutral etc...I'm not overly sure if their actions are suppose to effect the next incarnation though, or maybe redeem themselves in certain aspects, cos Weaving plays a bad guy all the way through...I think. Despite that anyone can see the powerful performances by the cast in this. I like Hugo Weaving as an actor very much and I can't fault the guy here, he plays mostly nasty pieces of work but damn it he's so flippin good. As mentioned Jim Broadbent is on fire, the guy can do no wrong, he's like an ugly version of Anthony Hopkins (no disrespect Jim). Still unsure why they would cast Grant in some odd choice roles, an all American company boss?!, a heavy?!!! (thug) and the cannibal chief! wouldn't be my choice. An odd entity really, you wouldn't think it was a Wachowski film (accept for the sci-fi bit) and the stories range from excellent to mundane. I found myself not really caring about certain plots and wanting them to spin on so we could get back to the more thrilling plots. I must also add that despite the effects and CGI being very very good throughout, the makeup on various characters is actually pretty bad haha. Using the same actors for various roles in various settings means people had to look Korean, Caucasian, female, old, bald, have different hair, coloured contacts etc...lets just say some times the actors looked good, sometimes like looked scary. On the whole I enjoyed this epic story telling immensely, didn't think I would but I did. The film does appear to be quite politically correct also in some stories when you think about it (homosexual relations, multicultural relations...the future of the human race in the final tale) and to be honest it does drag. There are plenty of times when you think the film is gonna end, maybe it should, but it doesn't, it goes ooooon. If this were indeed Spielberg then I'm sure some would say its close to a masterpiece, I don't think it is, for now, but its pretty close. The sheer amount of work and time to bring all this together is impressive, on top of that its a bloody good looking film with great acting. Thing is it may well take a few viewings to get to grips with it, I must admit to having to use the films (and novels) wiki to recap on all the stories. In time this could well be a classic.

- phubbs1, Sunday, April 28, 2013

4 stars

Cloud Atlas is a stunning achievement. It is a ambitious film that defies all the expectations and with its literally megalomaniac plot it ultimately succeeds in creating an unforgettable journey through life, love, space, time and connected lives. I can see if not many are willing to go places where Cloud Atlas takes us. It asks a lot from viewer and with its three hour lenght and it is a demanding and challenging epic that has many different timelines and many different characters. Those who like science fiction with brains and ambition will quite possibly find it as one of the most interesting films in a long time. I myself loved the concept and ideas it had. It throws lot of questions to a viewer and make us in the audience to really think. It is surprising to see that this comes from the same directors who made The Matrix - trilogy which were much more hollow as a films and aimed more for a kung-fu set pieces and famous bullet-time effects than actual ideas. Actually Cloud Atlas is a collaboration between three different directors; Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer who all bring something of their own into this story which is based David Mitchell's novel. This mixture could have ended up into a huge mess or disaster but instead all of these directors succeeds in balancing with their material and pull off an virtuoso adventure like no other. I myself have never seen anything like this before. Cloud Atlas reminds me of other ambitious sci-fi films like Steven Spielberg's A.I. and Ridley Scott's Prometheus with some nods to Blade Runner also. There are also elements that brought Darren Aronofsky's equally bold and majestic The Fountain into my mind. Cloud Atlas and The Founain both manages to bring rare amounts of heart into the world of often cold science fiction with devastating impact, and they both also hold this mysterious element that makes them effective and intriguing. To describe Cloud Atlas is a real challange and that is part of its appeal. To call it a science fiction mystery with a echoes of 70's paranoia thrillers and majestic old adventure films does not even come to close its entity as a film. Cloud Atlas is something much bigger than the genres and the world it operates in. This is larger than life filmmaking and certainly deservers to be seen. As a film this is by far the best thing any of these directors has done in their careers. Mixture of Tykwer's sensibilities as a director and Wachowskie's more adventurous filmmaking is a perfect match and bring especially welcome sophisticated touch to Wachowskie's hyper-stylized action set pieces which are not seen here this time around. Cinematography by great John Toll and talented Frank Griebe are major contribution to films overall visual look and the future has rarely looked so a amazing as it does in here. One of the films most important elements is also the fantastic musical score by Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer, whose music bring certain feeling of awe, excitment and mystery into this magnificent film. Still beneath all the fantastic technical wizardy and gimmicks lies an very impressive ensemble cast. To cast same actors into many different roles could have been a disaster but it actually works brilliantly. There are moments that are slightly distracting because of the actors weak accents or their corny make-up which are at times be too artificial, but overall the impact is quite stunning. With actors like Ben Whishaw, Tom Hanks, Jim Broadbent, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon and Hugo Weaving on board, Cloud Atlas has a one hell of a impressive cast and each and everyone of these actors captures their roles with a perfect charisma and ability to bend themselves into another characters in a different time. Overall Cloud Atlas is one unforgettable journey. It might not be without flaws but it certainly earns to be mentioned as one of the most original films to come along in recent years. This is one of a kind filmmaking and deserves to be seen. Do not miss it.

- emilkakko, Saturday, March 30, 2013