The Wachowskis’ “Cloud Atlas” is getting mostly shrugs from fans and critics. It made only $3.5 million last night, and will do maybe $8 million for the weekend. The film cost well over $100 million– more like total costs around $150 million–but will finish second this weekend to hold over “Argo,” also a Warner Bros. release. It’s too bad. If “Cloud Atlas” had been released in 1977, more people would have seen it and no one would have released its box office numbers.
But this is a different time. If WB had given it an art house release, maybe that would have worked, because “Cloud Atlas” is the “Tree of Life” of 2012. It’s beautiful to look at and difficult to comprehend. It’s actually easier to deal with than “Tree of Life” since the six stories that cut back and forth at least make sense within themselves. They just don’t connect to each other in a meaningful way.
I still think that Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Jim Broadbent– leading a big cast that also includes Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant in more minor roles–shouldn’t be overlooked. Given the material, they’re sort of brilliant. And the look of the film–every production credit– is outstanding. “Cloud Atlas” is more frustrating than challenging, but worth it if you love film and don’t mind a non linear, un-formulaic approach to moviemaking.