"Cloud Atlas" is a multi-faceted movie that is rich with imagery and the promise to truly stimulate your imagination. Warner Home Video has no delivered a high definition version of the film on Blu-Ray Disc and I was looking forward to letting the experience flood over me.
The movie features a number of individual storylines, taking place in different time periods. There is one in the 1890, another one in the 1930s, one in the 1970, one in the near future and one that appears to be the distant future. They all seem unrelated at first, with the exception that they feature the same key cast members, namely Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, Hugo Weaving and Jim Broadbent, among others.
As we follow these different plot lines, it becomes evident that somehow they all relate to each other. The characters are ancestors of the other characters and slowly one gets the impression they might even be more than that, perhaps even reincarnations.
With that in mind, the film weaves a rich tapestry, in which the plots unfold, based on individual decisions that the characters make, which then lead to the events in another time entirely. It is a colorful and imaginative exploration, how all things tie together, how certain decisions transcend time. It is not a novel concept - I am sure everyone has asked himself the question what our world would look like if Hitler had been aborted in the womb, for example -, but it is presented here in such a magnificent and radiant way that it is almost magical to behold.
Mind you, however, this film is not for those with short attention spans. It requires you to think along as you watch, to become a part of the web, especially since the film jumps between periods very rapidly at times. Fortunately, it never becomes confusing, however, clearly separating one strand from the other as it moves along. Also, don't expect cool action scenes here. The movie is focused on characters, individuals and their impact on their respective societies, and as such much of the film revolves around what these people say and do.
Warner Home Video is presenting "Cloud Atlas" in a great-looking 1080p high definition transfer on this disc that does full justice to the beauty of the production. With incredibly rich and vibrant hues, the color reproduction is marvelous, giving the film a splendid canvas to work with. Black levels are deep and solid, firmly rooting the image, while the level of detail is making sure that every little bit of image information is brought across in all of its perfection - or imperfection, that is.
The disc features a DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track that is nicely preserving the movie's original mix, with subtle ambient sound effects, as well as bombastic moments. The movie's score is featuring a wide mix that is transparent and hauntingly beautiful.
A whole series of featurettes makes up the bulk of the bonus materials on the release, in which the cast as well as the filmmakers discuss in quite some detail, how it all come together and how it all fits together in terms of the story. Naturally, it requires that you've seen the film before, but even then, there are little nuggets in there that you may have overlooked during your initial viewing, allowing you to dig even deeper.
"Cloud Atlas" stands out for a number of reasons. Sure, this is a top notch blu-Ray release and yes, it features a star-studded cast, but more importantly, it is an experience that draws you in with an inevitability that is almost hypnotic. You begin watching the movie and slowly sink into it without realizing just how much the movie has involved you, until the closing credits break the spell. With its stunning visual and the wonderful production and cast, this movie is one of those subtle winners that make a lasting impression. Go, check it out!