SUMMARY: Audacious, daring, and never uninteresting, yet the execution falls far short of its visionary ambitions.
PROS: Visually absorbing and lush; interlocked narratives that run the gamut from historical journey to far-future adventure.
CONS: Stories too jaggedly pieced together and never compelling on their own; intriguing cast playing things too broadly.
Tom Tykwer and the siblings Wachowski deserve a good deal of credit for attempting to bring David Mitchell’s sprawling novel Cloud Atlas to the screen. Alas, they also must accept the blame for so much of what goes wrong with Cloud Atlas, which, like David Lynch’s completely wrongheaded adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, retains much of the structure and many of the characters but fails to understand the core theme. Or perhaps they understood it, but felt they needed to change it to meet studio and audience needs. The former seems more plausible; the creators of The Matrix Trilogy and the director of Run, Lola, Run and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer certainly have shown themselves willing to tackle bold projects, even when they demonstrate glib comprehension.