The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2012
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 172 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Hugh Grant, Zhou Xun, Keith David, Susan Sarandon
Written & Directed by: Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski
Music by: Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, Rheinhold Heil
Based on the novel by: David Mitchell
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 14, 2013
Future. Present. Past. Everything is connected. From the creators of the Matrix trilogy and the director of Run Lola Run. An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution. The story is a time-shifting weave of six interlinking narratives, with diverse settings from the savagery of a Pacific Island in the 1850s to a dystopian Korea of the near future. Based on the best-selling novel "Cloud Atlas" written by David Mitchell.
What to make of Cloud Atlas? This was the question that resonated through my mind after watching it. Based on the novel by David Mitchell the big screen adaptation is extravagant in context and scope with broad conceptual elements. The segmented narrative tells six stories that span differing eras, beginning in the mid 1800’s through to an undefined dystopian future, with stops in the 1930's, 1970’s, 2012 and 2144. The film is a sort of mosaic with interrelated storylines that have a correlating progression that builds through to the climax.
I haven’t read the novel but watching Cloud Atlas proved to be a challenging experience as it really doesn’t adhere to typical conceptual filmmaking. That isn’t a knock against it per se however trying to discern exactly what is going on by picking up on what one might see as standard plot point cues proved frustrating for the first 45 minutes or so. After giving up on that and just taking it in as it came made things much easier and ultimately rewarding. I know that the tagline is “Everything is connected” however attempting to glean where all of the dots connect in one viewing asks a lot of the audience.
The six interwoven stories are blended in a consistently shifting fashion that jumps back and forth between them in a chronology that seems to rest outside of logic. It has an artsy feel that transcends genre boundaries touching upon elements or romance, crime, sci-fi, drama and action. So what you can take away from all that I have just said is that figuring out what Cloud Atlas is truly all about may rest somewhat in your discerning of its narrative components.
What I took from it is the innate connection between several (not all) of the storylines and how evocatively and beautifully they are told. The film was made by two directing teams with the members of the cast bouncing between them depending on the storyline. I loved the concept of using the same actors to play various roles, some of the same character (at differing points in life) and some entirely different, even transcending genders.
I didn’t care for the broken English dialect spoken in the dystopian future segments. Comprehension wasn’t impossible but required multiple rewinds especially for crucial dialogue. The film opens in this era with a singular commentary by elderly Zachary (Tom Hanks) and initially I couldn’t make much out of it. What he says kind of sets the tone for later events so take your time and pick up as much as you can. One of my favorite scenes involves Hanks (in a different character) and a book critic, don’t worry you’ll get the joke when you see it. Once you settle in Cloud Atlas will keep you on your toes as its evolving message slowly takes shape via an abstract yet coherent tone that will frustrate you early on.
The production design is gorgeous and the makeup team does an amazing job transforming the same group of actors into different roles several of which you will not be able to detect. At $102 million dollars it is the most expensive independent film to date. Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski (I am sure those names sound familiar to you) are visionary filmmakers to be sure. From listening to author David Mitchell talk about the film I think he is pleased with their adaptation. The cast does a terrific and lends credibility to the film’s thematic tone in their various roles. I didn’t find Cloud Atlas to be wholly satisfying but found it to be a rewarding film experience that I think will improve with a second viewing.
The rating is for violence, language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Cloud Atlas comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4 Mbps.
This film essentially utilizes two distinct visual styles to convey its thematic content. One makes use of darker/monochromatic color schemes and grittier textures while the other features richer contrast and vibrant colors emboldened by warm accents. Each provides the look that the filmmakers strove for to drive the narrative components. Close ups reveal crisp definition and perceptible detail that reveals the presence of pores, stubble, peach fuzzy hair and subtle complexional variations. The texture on the surfaces of objects is just as defining which give them visibly apparent structure and lifelike quality. Black levels are slightly elevated but not detrimentally so and contrast is spot on which delivers bright punchy whites and appreciable dimension when mixed light/dark elements are present onscreen. The video has a noticeably clean and pristine quality that appears devoid of video related anomalies and artifacts.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack features frequent use of the entire surround platform which occasionally engulfs the listening position so as to provide a feeling of total immersion. This is a highly detailed presentation that has excellent dynamic range which enables it to be bombastic at one moment and intricately nuanced the next. Dialogue is definitive and appreciably lucid through the center channel as it reaches far into the room. It’s located just slightly in front of the left/right speakers within soundstage. I never had any trouble distinguishing even the slightest changes in the pitch or inflection of voices. Front channel separation is excellent. This draws out both large and small sound elements and allows their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be definable. There isn’t perpetual use of the rear channels and subwoofer however when applied the effects are involving. Focus and imaging are on point as the various venues and locations featured in the film are replicated with discerning realism. Low frequencies aren’t earth shaking however depth is both appropriate and palpably room filling.
- (HD) A film like no other – 7 minute featurette
- (HD) Everything is connected – 8 minute featurette
- (HD) The impossible adaptation – 9 minute featurette
- (HD) The essence of acting – 7 minute featurette
- (HD) Spaceships, slaves & sextets – 8 minute featurette
- (HD) The bold science fiction of Cloud Atlas – 7 minute featurette
- (HD) Eternal recurrence: Love, life, and longing in Cloud Atlas – 7 minute featurette
- Bonus DVD
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Based on the novel by David Mitchell Cloud Atlas’s big screen adaptation is extravagant in context/scope with broad conceptual elements delivered as a mosaic with interrelated storylines that have a correlating progression that builds through to the climax. This can make it a challenging film to completely absorb in one viewing. I enjoyed it but plan on sitting down with it again as I believe a second viewing will derive more from it. Cloud Atlas comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring excellent high definition audio/video quality and a middling assortment of supplemental features that look behind the scenes. This is tough to recommend as a blind buy but it is worth seeing so start with a rental to go from there.
Here is the trailer:
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package