By Mikhail Chernyavsky

Breaking conventional cinematic storytelling, it is one of the most ambitious films in recent years, if not ever.

Epic and incredibly beautiful, “Cloud Atlas” is the type of film that you need to prepare yourself to watch. It’s not only because it is just shy of a three hour running time, but because it needs your undivided attention.

From the beginning, Atlas jumps around between its multiple stories and eras, ranging from the early days of salve trade to the post-apocalyptic future. Because of this, the film is one that requires multiple viewings.

Because of this, Atlas may be more popular with home viewers than movie goers. Nevertheless, concentrating on the film you paid to see shouldn’t be a drawback to seeing it.

Through what feels like a series of interwoven vignettes, Atlas explores the idea that the actions of our lives create a ripple effect for the other lives we live. Each action in each life shapes our soul as it travels from one life to the next.

By no means is the film flawless, but in its ambition, Atlas strives for something new and different. Although this may not be a masterpiece in everyway, I’d rather see a film try for something new and fail than see the same regurgitated formulaic stories (or lazy remakes for that matter) that Hollywood has been so fond of releasing year after year.

The Wachowski siblings, teamed up with German director Tom Tykwer, of “Run Lola Run” fame, give us one of the greatest uses of prosthetic makeup in film.

The ensemble cast (including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant) is transformed from era to era as they portray not just different characters, but different races and genders. Berry plays both a white woman and a man in two different times.

My biggest annoyance with the film was not that I actually had to pay attention and think about the film, but with the future speak in the post-apocalyptic era know as “After The Fall.” The dialect spoken came off sounding like a combination of a Southern twang and jive, think 1980’s “Airplane!”

The major problem most people might have with the film is making sense of it all. Logically, how are all these seemingly unrelated stories connected? Honestly, I don’t think I’ve really made sense of it yet.

Yet, perhaps this is the films greatest achievement. It is a story about life. Like Atlas, sometimes we are the only constant in a seemingly unrelated series of events. It may not be perfect, but you surely won’t be bored.

Finally, a film that breaks convention, allows actors to showcase their talents, it’s like the early days of cinema when people were excited to create something new and original.

I can’t wait to see this film again.


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