Epic ‘Cloud Atlas’ aims high, but only hits it mark occasionally

Halle Berry and Tom Hanks in ‘Cloud Atlas.’ Rated R, 172 min. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2012.

A supremely odd combination of breathtaking adventure and pretentious mumbo-jumbo, “Cloud Atlas” may be unlike anything you’ve seen before. Of course, there might be a good reason there are not many three-hour comedy-drama-romance-sci-fi-thrillers. The film’s plan to pack in every genre imaginable is certainly ambitious, but it will give you a head-scratching case of movie-goer whiplash.

The barely-describable plot follows no fewer than six groups of characters in as many time periods, spanning from the 1800s to centuries in the future. The overall theme is one of inter-connected spirits that always seem to be drawn together – or spend eternity clashing.

Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant all transform into many characters. The phenomenal make-up often renders the players unrecognizable.

The sci-fi dystopia set in “Neo Seoul” is so captivating it could be its own movie. On the other hand, the future-set forest storyline with Grant as a cannibal, Berry as an alien and Hanks speaking some garbled fantasy language could have easily been dumped.

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