‘Cloud Atlas’ on the Horizon
Hoo boy. Having inevitably wondered when I read Cloud Atlas how it could ever be made into a movie, I thought I might find a clue in the trailers available now online. From the original six-minute clip and its two-minute reboot, I think I have–and the prospects aren’t pretty.
Author David Mitchell himself enthused in a recent New Yorker piece that “this could be one of those movies that are better than the book!” (the three-member creative team was somewhat less committal). But the music swelling behind big thoughts earnestly expressed—plus the ever-annoying sound of Tom Hanks intoning in his guileless meaningfulness—don’t bode well for the picture in its final form. Nor does the visual mishmash with its heaping helping of long-familiar mainstream movie references—The Matrix meets Inception meets Lord of the Rings meets Master and Commander, plus some Forest Gump and Cast Away and, hmm, Avatar, mixed in, and, oh, because it’s still here in the cabinet, a little of that old Ivory-Merchant staging for esthetic finish. What looks to be missing is any trace of the dark humor that seeped up now and then from the pages of the novel, or any signs that the filmmakers considered treating the source material with anything but the seriousness with which some feel serious writing must be engaged, regardless of how the writing might engage its audience. Thus nuance and complexity look as if they’ll succumb to bombast and inch-deep meditations on death, life, birth, and other things like that. What a surprise.
But wait! They’re only trailers, and trailers are marketing devices, so maybe the marketing team is to blame for the mess. Or maybe Cloud Atlas can’t be made into a movie. Only a full and fair viewing, come its release in October, will tell.