JT Film Review

Cloud Atlas (2012)

Cloud Atlas Review
Review #167

4.5/5 stars

Director –  Lana and Andy Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer

Cast – Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon

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This is a helluva ambitious movie. Helluva.

Written and directed by the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer, it is an adaptation on the 2004 novel of the same name. It consists of six intertwined stories, ranging from the 1800’s to a post apocalyptic future. There are physical links between the stories… letters written in one time period are read by a character in another, a character in one story is worshiped as a deity in another, that sort of thing. The lead actors also all appear in several stories as characters with different ethnicities and even genders.

But the real link between the stories is thematic. The point of the movie is that people’s actions have consequences, and choices we make “reverberate through time”, etc. It’s not a new theme. It could easily be quite corny too, but success is all in the execution.  Cloud Atlas avoids being cheesy,  (more or less), and I would even describe it as inspiring. It easily avoids being boring, too, which seems odd as it’s almost three hours long.

It is definitely what I would call a “lie down movie”, though; one of those long films you can go to in a near-empty theatre, lie down on the seats, and let the movie wash over you. (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was another one.) The movie intrigues us, draws us in, and gets to the point in due time. It drags a bit in the middle, to be sure, but not for long. It’s six stories are all interesting in one way or another. They weave together well, despite the occasional jarring transition, and the actors all commit to their roles one hundred percent.  If you don’t like any of the stories, there’s a new one coming along in a couple of minutes!

I would like to touch on the ridiculous accusations of racism that have surrounded the movie. Many white members of the cast appear in a couple of stories as ethnicities other than their own. This is done with prosthetics and makeup, and has drawn comparisons to black-face. Some people are asking why actors of the ethnicity portrayed were not hired to play those parts, and normally they would have a point. But in a movie like this, where actors of all colours play different parts, the accusation fall flat. You can not say putting Hugh Grant in vaguely Oriental makeup is racist when the next scene features Halle Berry as a white British woman. Context is key here, and there is no racism here. No chance.

OVERALL

Cloud Atlas is huge, audacious, and effective. It’s six stories complement each other wonderfully, and the actors are obviously into the spirit of the thing. It sounds so flippant to say it, but Cloud Atlas is inspiring. It might confuse some and alienate others, but it is much more approachable than some are saying. Highly recommended.

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‘Cloud Atlas’ on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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November 21, 2012 Posted by | 4.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Drama, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

94 – Toy Story 3 (2010)

Toy Story 3 REVIEW

4/5 stars

Director – Lee Ulrich

Cast – Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, John Ratzsenberger, Joan Cussack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Morris, Jodi Benson, Emily Hahn

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– follows Toy Story 2

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I must admit to not being a huge fan of the Toy Story movies. They are good, but I have never been particularly impressed when it comes to the adventures of Woody, Buzz, and Co. Pixar is of course a good studio who regularly turn out decent and excellent material. Monsters Inc. is probably my favorite of theirs, and I very much enjoyed Ratatouille and Wall-E. Up was a bit underwhelming to me personally, but found great critical success elsewhere. So I must say that for me, Toy Story 3 falls in the category of good but not stellar.

The story starts with Andy, the toys owner, growing up and moving off to college. The toys find themselves shipped to a day care, which is ruled with a plush iron hand by a huge stuffed bear named Lotso. Woody finds himself separated from the others, and journeys back to save them and their trust in Andy, whom they believe has rejected them.

This movie is funny, perhaps more funny than the first two. It also packs the most emotional punch. One scene, where Woody and Co. bravely prepare themselves for certain death in a trash incinerator, is very moving. The origin tale of Lotso’s bitterness is both funny and sad, and the clown who tells the story is priceless. The movie loses ground I find, when it packs on the sugary, treacley, saccharine sweetness (as only Disney can). The ending was, I feel, over-played, and would have been greater if played with the simplicity of the similar ending scene from Monster’s Inc. Less is more, and I don’t think that rule was followed enough here. Or in the Toy Story franchise in general.

This film also feels quite similar to the first sequel, Toy Story 2. We again have a scene where a toy is left behind by its owner, and Buzz once again is put back to his orignal factory setting for comedic effect. Woody is perhaps sidelined a little more than he should have been also. These are fairly minor quibbles however, in a movie that will certainly leave kids and most adults more than satisfied. I just hate it when movies like this are unjustly (in my view) given the title of Best Threequel Ever, etc. It was good, but not that good.

And of course, being a Pixar film, there is a short film preceding Toy Story 3. This one is called Night and Day, and is about… well its about two people wo are made of the same shot but one is day and the other is night. Realizing that explains virtually nothing, I will say it is about recognizing the differences and similarities in each other and respecting each other for them. It’s good, but doesn’t quite live up to the full potential of its premise. It is definitely… well, unique.

OVERALL

Toy Story 3 is an entertaining and emotional ending to the Toy Story saga. It does try to milk its ending a bit too much though, and felt a tad repetitive. But otherwise this is an excellent family film (that is perhaps over-rated), and will be sure to entertain most audiences in that special way only Pixar can.

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TRAILER

“Toy Story 3” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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June 21, 2010 Posted by | 4 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Family, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment