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First Reactions To Cloud Atlas, Plus Some New Images

Recently, the first test screenings for the film were held, and thanks to The Playlist, we have a few reactions to what has already been called a very ambitious project from The Wachowski Siblings and Tom Tykwer, who co-wrote and co-directed the film.

Merely a month or so ago, I knew so little about Cloud Atlas that I barely took any notice of it. However, after the release of several images from the film, which was quickly followed by the trailer, my interest skyrocketed to the point where it became one of my most anticipated films for the remainder of the year.

In case you’re unfamiliar with what the film is about, the official synopsis reads as follows:

The powerful, inspiring epic Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

Not long ago, Warner Bros. began holding test screenings for the film, and thanks to The Playlist, we have a few reactions to what has already been called a very ambitious project from The Wachowski Siblings and Tom Tykwer, who co-wrote and co-directed the film.

So what’s the verdict on these early test screenings? Well, it’s rather hard to come to a conclusion, especially this early on, but what we do know are that the reactions were a bit mixed.

There were those that heavily favored the film, like this viewer who said:

I have to say that this film totally blew me away! Leave it to the very creative and innovative Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer to make this complex book into a GREAT film.. .According to my watch, the film ran 2hrs. 50min. but you would never know it because time just flew by. Cloud Atlas has it all… action, adventure, romance, humor, and several very touching moments. It captures every emotion imaginable and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. I can honestly say it’s one of the best films I’ve seen in years and definitely like nothing I’ve ever seen before! And the rest of the audience also seemed to love the film… there was long and loud applause after the film and lots of positive chatter going on around me. I can’t wait for each and every one of you to see it!!!

Others were less enthusiastic about it, saying that “the movie was over 3 hours and it did tend to drag a little. there were 5 different stories going at once so it was a little confusing for the first hour.” Another viewer referred to it as “one hot convoluted mess.”

Then there were those who were at somewhat of a middle ground, like this attendee who said:

This isn’t going to be a major Oscar player, I don’t think. It would require near-unanimous critical praise–which it won’t get–and massive box office–which seems unlikely. If it’s a player, it will probably mostly be for the techs and maybe the elliptically beautiful screenplay. I have a hard time seeing much of anything else. But I don’t really care. I’m glad this movie exists, and I hope the studio doesn’t f*** it up too much thanks to test screening results. This is a delicate thing, and even the slightest of changes could make it all fall apart. But for a certain type of filmgoer, this is going to be a real treat indeed, and a reminder that American film can still do ambitious as well as anybody else (just so long as it’s primarily financed by foreigners).

Even after reading the more negative aspects of these reactions, my anticipation has not diminished in the least. I was lucky enough to read the screenplay to this merely a couple of weeks ago and was completely engrossed in the epic tale that involves six criss-crossing stories told over a span of about 500 years.

I can certainly see where some will find it disorienting at first. It took me a little while to get a hold of how many stories and characters were being crossed between as I read it, but after jumping back and forth so much, it became easy to get the hang of it. As for those saying it drags a bit, I can’t speak for the film itself, but I can say that, despite the screenplay being 231 pages, it certainly didn’t feel like it dragged. In fact, I was surprised at how fast a read it was.

It will be interesting to see what the final runtime of the film ends up being. Right now, the “official” runtime given is 164 minutes, which doesn’t seem like nearly enough time to tell this epic set of stories. I’m hoping that Warner Bros. realizes this and gives it the three plus hour runtime referred to in these quotes. I certainly wouldn’t mind it, especially when it’s necessary for the film.

Cloud Atlas will be making its official debut at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, so we’ll probably have to wait for a slightly better consensus until then.

The rest of us will just have to wait until October 26th for it to finally hit theaters.

Check out the new images below and let us know what you think in the comments.

About the author

Jeff Beck