Cloud Atlas has great visuals and strong performances, but the tedious non-linear narrative of six stories makes it an unengaging montage of trailers that test your patience rather than stir your thoughts.

Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future. Each member of the ensemble appears in multiple roles as the stories move through time. — (C) Warner Bros.

The film takes you into five different centuries which proves to be interesting for awhile. The whole cast gets reincarnated in different characters throughout the film, and they all had exceptional performances.

Once the non-linear narrative kicks in, that’s when things become a jumbled mess. Cloud Atlas starts with an incomprehensible Tom Hanks playing some kind of tribesman in the future. The film then goes back in forth, using assumed character connections and thematic links. The narrative barely settles in one spot which hinders any emotional engagement. The result is more like a mash up of trailers that’s almost three hours long.

Each of the stories, when taken apart, doesn’t really have anything profound to say. In fact, they’re just simple story arcs of good vs. evil. Most are borrowed ideas from other familiar films – One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Amistad, Blade Runner, Apocalypto with a dash of Avatar, and every other crime thriller involving a journalist/reporter against a big evil organization.

The overlong running time eventually takes its toll. The film is supposed to be about interconnectedness, but the film fails to connect nor resonate. The directors deserve to be applauded for their efforts. The film proves to be a massive undertaking. Sadly, Cloud Atlas is more like some New Age mumbo jumbo that promises divine knowledge, but in reality already tells us something that we already know.

My Rating: 6/10

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