Ready to have your mind blown by those expert purveyors of heady sci-fi, the Wachowskis, and an all-star cast? Netflix is about to add a movie that may interest you.
2012's Cloud Atlas will be available to watch on the streamer starting on July 1, 2020, and if you've never seen it, you're in for a treat. For that matter, if you have seen it, you'll probably want to watch it again, because getting your head all the way around the movie upon first viewing is no small feat.
It's also no small feat to provide a synopsis for this movie. It's an absolutely sprawling work, telling a series of interconnected stories which take place over the course of nearly five centuries. Every member of the main cast plays multiple roles as the movie jumps across different time periods. Many of them at times appear in heavy makeup, with a different actor filling the story's "lead" role after each time jump.
Love it or hate it, critics agree that Cloud Atlas is a wildly unconventional film. It's an outcome one might have expected from an adaptation of author David Mitchell's similarly dense and ambitious 2004 novel.
It's also the only one of the Wachowskis' films on which they collaborated with another credited writer and director: Tom Tykwer. Tykwer is the filmmaker behind the visionary cult film Run Lola Run, who also worked with the sisters on their own cult favorite Netflix series Sense8.
On top of having three directors steering the ship, Cloud Atlas also sports a ridiculously stacked cast, and they all acquit themselves quite well, despite the fact that they're each tasked with filling five or six distinct roles.
The film takes place in six different time periods, with the first segment opening in the Pacific Islands in 1849. From there, Cloud Atlas jumps forward in time to 1936, and then to 1973, 2012, 2144, and finally all the way to 2321. Each new story connects with the one that came before it, and characters' actions in one story continue to influence events decades into the future.
But in spite of its cast and the involvement of the Wachowskis, Cloud Atlas was a significant flop upon its release. The $100 million picture managed only about $130 million at the worldwide box office, which amounted to a substantial loss for Warner Brothers once marketing and promotion costs were figured in.
The film likely wasn't helped by the complexity of its narrative and utter refusal to hold the hands of its audience, not to mention its nearly three-hour run time. Of course, while such complaints can help to sink a film's theatrical performance, they're often mitigated by the home viewing experience. So if the movie's length dissuaded you from catching it in the theater, here's your chance to give it the day on court it deserves.
The flick received mixed-to-positive reviews, but among those critics to offer virtually unreserved praise was the great Roger Ebert, who passed away only six months after its release. In his four-star review, Ebert wrote:
"I was never, ever bored by Cloud Atlas...Oh, what a film this is! And what a demonstration of the magical, dreamlike qualities of the cinema."
Now, it's understandable that some may question whether another Cloud Atlas movie is in the cards, even with how divisive it was amongst critics when it first debuted. While there haven't been any talks about making a straight-up sequel, fans of the film may take heart in knowing that the book upon which it's based is one of many penned by author David Mitchell.
The British writer released two novels following Cloud Atlas, 2014's The Bone Clocks and 2015's Slade House, both of which are said to be subtly connected to Cloud Atlas. In October 2015, The Daily Beast even described Slade House as a, quote, "scary new sequel to Cloud Atlas," as well as a sequel of sorts to Bone Clocks, considering they're all connected.
Whether either of those novels get the film adaptation treatment in the future remains to be seen, but if they do, Mitchell may very well be supportive of it. After all, he went on record in October 2012 to express his satisfaction with what the Wachowskis and Tykwer had done in adapting his work. In a post published to The Wall Street Journal, Mitchell wrote:
"Adaptation is a form of translation, and all acts of translation have to deal with untranslatable spots...When asked whether I mind the changes made during the adaptation of Cloud Atlas, my response is [this]: The filmmakers speak fluent film language, and they've done what works." Watch the video to learn how Netflix Nabs One Of The Decade's Most Underrated Sci-Fi Movies!
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