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The Guest House (2012)
Love Without Heart
There are worse films out there I suppose, but where "The Guest House" falters is not its production values or low budget, but the fact that the love story between the two characters is so empty and their affection is so forced.
I don't know if these women were uncomfortable with the homosexual aspect, if their acting was just *that* bad, or if the director had an unnatural vision of what women in love really looked like. They would go from sweet nothings to forceful, aggressive making out; they would be having a random conversation about life and suddenly one of them would pounce on the other...lesbians or not, *people* don't do this. There was zero sensuality during any given encounter. No tenderness no softness, no sweetness. It was more like drunken lust, but even all the a** grabbing and rough kissing looked awkward and struck me as that of rushed, groping teenagers. The end result comes off as attempt at eye candy under the guise of of male's vision of what two women look like.
Now I *might* could suspend belief long enough when it came to this weird forced eroticism if the rest of the story had been convincing...but it isn't. Apart from the the father, there is absolutely NOTHING driving the plot. These girls fall in love with each other in a complete vacuum. There are no friends around, no jobs to go to, no competition for affection, and no parents aside from the last few minutes. Nothing really happens - there's nothing to drive their relationship forward or test their limits or to develop them as characters that we can care about, relate to, and understand. Really, how much of a story is there about two people falling in love who are almost completely cut off from the outside world?
About the time that the film would've gotten interesting, when the couple hits their "speed bump" in the form of dad, we cut a few months later, gloss over it, and everything's fine. Even when the film gives us conflict, we don't really get any.
The dialog is pretty bad too, and this ties back into nothing much of any interest occurring. The writers try to give the girls character through these long winded conversations amounting to "what's your favorite color" for half the film which is painful to listen to. After some skin we move over to mostly endless pillow talk. And it never lets up. These ladies communicate through the most banal remarks about how much they love other. What they sound like are, like the sex scenes, uncomfortable teens. They don't really know each other so they make nervous small talk that is unbearable.
And so we have what might look like a sweet little love story that ultimately has very little humanity left in it. We don't know the characters, their story happens outside of real life, and there's just nothing for the audience to connect with. A real love story, between 2 people of any sex, should be able to speak to anybody (except perhaps the severely homo or heterophobic) because we're able to relate to how they get to know each other and their search for happiness. But that vibe just isn't here. There is nothing to hang on to, and what's left in its stead is almost impossible to sit through.
The Virgin Suicides (1999)
Surreal and Intoxicating, but also Disparate
I feel the need to quickly preface this review with two facts. One, I have not read the book, which I think in most cases is a good thing when one reviews a movie as it sets an unrealistic point of reference across mediums with varying strengths and weaknesses. A film should stand on its own regardless of however far it has (or hasn't) strayed from any source material. Two, I admit to not understanding what exactly the point of this film is. Maybe it's because I didn't grow up in the 70's, or because I'm not a girl/woman; I don't really know.
The first third or so of this film (before Trip's introduction) is dreamy and mesmerizing. The plot line likes to float a little, but used correctly it can leave the audience that much more interested in whatever over arching theme is being presented. I especially enjoy the awkward teenage humor not to mention the humor innate in the narrator's reflection on his youth. There's some very vivid imagery that would seem to lead to some character development and we get to learn a little about the people whose perspective we're getting the story from. The calm surrounding such a young and seemingly unprovoked suicide also adds some serious intrigue. As an audience, we're all asking ourselves "why," or after some thought, "what clever ripples will resonate throughout these characters' lives?"
Unfortunately, what made this first bit so darkly magical is jerked away in a flash. Abruptly the film shifts to focus solely on one sister, Lux, and even then we are only really witness to her actions, not who she is. The argument is of course that this is precisely what part the boys/narrator sees, but without really knowing who's telling the story, there's no real way to connect the dots, to gain any understanding what level of profundity this has on our spectators or how much gravity it holds. Does any of this affect THEIR actions? Do they change what they think because of watching Lux, or are they simply mystified by Lux? We're all mystified by Lux by now, and I'm mystified at why the film isn't spending much time on why we aren't asking any questions about the other sisters aside from "why are they even there?" From here on out, "The Virgin Suicides" takes on an episodic approach that in effect shows us what we've already been shown about Lux (that she's rebellious), reinforces the isolation of the remaining three sisters, and continues the theme of bewilderment by the boys. I don't have a problem with any of this; what I wish is that the movie had explored the consequences of this behavior, the impact that these changing opinions and lifestyles had on the characters. But in this film, the characters are all very fuzzy to begin with and only remain fuzzy. We know the changing situations affect them, but not in an emotionally, relatable way.
The appropriate and expected shock moment comes and goes with all the reflective voice-over, yet there's no gratification. OK, I can live with not exactly understanding why the girls did what they did, I understand that the film isn't about them, it's about the boys who observed them. But with all the contact near the end and the invitation to the boys to discover the horror, there's no sense in why the girls wanted to share this sort of twisted intimacy with people who didn't even seem to be their friends. Furthermore, the audience is alienated even more because we don't know the boys/narrator either! Frankly, the two main parties involved in this film didn't know enough about each other to produce a substantial impact. And I really hope someone doesn't read this and think something like "the whole point is how this tragedy between barely-acquaintances can stick with you..." I mean maybe that is the point, but it's not a very good one, and it went through some really interesting stuff to get to a really dull conclusion.
I like it, its fun to watch, but there's such a disparate element to all of what's presented that I find myself not believing that it actually ended without any further revelation. Is it a good movie? Maybe. But is it one you'll really need to watch more than once until you forget it? No.
It Starts Off Clever Enough...
I realize that most of these reviews default to comparing RSVP to Rope; a film which I've seem but much too long ago for this review to be any sort of comparison. Instead I'll discuss this film on it's own terms.
There's a lot of really fun stuff going on in the beginning with the pseudo-intellectual conversations about murder as a sort of art form, initially leading me to believe I was in for a very clever sort of slasher film. RSVP fails to deliver, mostly because the writer couldn't substantiate all the clever banter with any sort of compelling story. Perhaps it's different since we're well aware of who the killer is from the beginning, but this potential is never maximized. Instead the film turns into a fairly generic slasher except the audience doesn't even have the pleasure of trying to piece together who the killer really is.
What kills RSVP is that it starts out as a somewhat interesting meditation of serial killers and murder, and degenerates quickly into the standard fare of drinking, drugs, etc. No suspense is built because it quickly becomes evident how our killer is operating. There needed to be some kind of payoff near the end, but all we get is another jilted youth. All of his musings on murder amount to nothing by the end of the film, and however interesting the killer may have seemed in the beginning, he's just another idiot who loses control by the end. I give it a 4 for keeping me pretty interested for the first half, but midway through the 2nd act my mind wanders.
A Couple of Bright Spots Amidst Far Too Much Garbage
There's been a fair bit of hype surrounding this "film" in the horror world, and it seemed like a neat idea, so I bit. I even took a Dramamine 30 minutes beforehand to prepare for all the shaky cam stuff. Unfortunately any shred of potential is wasted far too early, and there's never the nice little tie up that anthologies usually include to validate the frame narrative, which basically negates the film's existence as far as "found footage" is supposed to go.
An immediate turn off is the infallible ability for the first characters we meet to spend a solid 10 minutes being the most repulsive humans ever conceived. There is nothing to like about them, and it isn't even possible to write them off as stupid teenagers since these men are the quintessential dirty old men before they get quite so old. If you're still watching after the upskirts vs. sexually assault women and record their breasts conversation, you really shouldn't because that's about as horrible as anything else in this anthology.
I get why there's lots of blue screens and random clips of previous recordings and every other inadequacy of the format displayed, but its overused to no effect. We get it. It's called VHS. Let's move on. I also realize that with "found footage" we have to put up with a ton of boring crap as if to add to it's authenticity, but in an anthology the time needs to be used well. It needs to get us as vested as possible in the story and misdirect us enough not to predict the outcome. Instead of this however, we are treated to pointless conversations and every other dull happening of the human life. Sifting through all this to try and even get slightly creeped out is so tedious it's ultimately not worth it. Truly, what good there is to be gleaned from this atrocity is not worth sitting through the digital recreations of video tape shortcomings and found footage conventions.
The frame story is pretty novel at first; when we think of VHSs now in the digital age it seems to symbolize something very clandestine, and in the film's context, certainly something dark, mysterious, and meant for few eyes. It almost feels like a grittier version of Cage's descent in 8MM. But after a few seconds, this glimmer is lost because these same abominable men roam around as lost as if they had landed on the moon. And upon finding hundreds of video tapes without knowing which one is right, some of them begin keeping the dead guy company and watching them. This is one of many happenings that just doesn't make any sense. The other men force this one guy to stay in the room with the dead man. Why??? The first story is probably the strongest, although most of it is a pain to struggle through. Here we are dealing with equally reprehensible monsters at perhaps a younger age who are rightfully mangled by what seems to be some kind of childlike vampire creature. There are a view nice little incidental touches such as the quick shot of her bizarre feet, but this quickly degenerates into mayhem where the camera serves no purpose but to catch incomprehensible glimpses of carnage. The woman is instantly creepy, but all the frat boy crap is so distracting there's no chance for any tension to be built up and the shock is expounded on poorly with a bit of a nonsense ending, not to mention no relevance to the sort of childishness of the creature.
Number two is filled with painfully boring footage and turns out to be little more than some kind of slasher story whittled down to a few minutes. Again, no explanation for anything.
The third story is equally horrible with what is either supposed to be a spoof or homage to Friday the 13th. I don't even begin to understand exactly what the girl who is hunting the killer has put together in her head; it's another bit of nonsense. I tend to think there was some decent potential for "The Glitch" but this story can barely even be called a story since so much is left to the imagination.
The fourth also begins kind of decently except that for every bit of interesting conversation we're forced to endure mounds of useless banter. The climax approached spooky, but was ended so abruptly and with so little explanation and so few clues as to what exactly happened that it's initially confusing which quickly turns to disinterest. The tension is built up well here, but without any rewarding pay off.
Five is another high point, probably the best overall story. Everything looks good, steadily increases in tension and intensity, and has a sufficiently evil if not cliché ending. But what is done right here is not worth all that has been done wrong to get here.
Finally, the fifth actually starts after the conclusion of the frame story, which rapidly degenerates into some sort of inexplicable zombie attack with absolutely no relation to the video tapes whatsoever.
Unsatisfying, distracting, nonsensical...a few words to describe this over-hyped monstrosity. There were bits of good horror hidden deep down, but not good enough to justify the rest of this anthology.
An Almost Perfect Film
Detention is one of the smartest and most original films I've ever seen. Everyone who made this managed to hit every single nail on the head; not a single joke fell flat, not a single reference was unnoticed or trivial. Every bit of this film was crafted and fine tuned to be the best possible version of itself.
One of the aspects of this movie that I love so much is that it makes fun of all this pseudo-nostalgic hipster garbage, and these same people don't even have a clue. If you're around the age of 28 or so, you'll know exactly what this film is about. If you're somewhere between 15 and 22 and you find it more hilarious than any postmodern irony (hah) with Michael Cera, you're laughing at the wrong stuff. This film isn't the divine distillation of all these movies about all these 18-22 that love everything from the 80's and 90's, this film is for all of us who are old enough to actually remember Roadhouse and I Swear in our childhood but are still young enough to have enough contact with a generation wearing TMNT hoodies and belts with the NES controller on them at 16. Sorry guys, but references to Bronson Pinchot, Patrick Swayze, and Ralph Machio weren't there for you to laugh. It's for us old enough to remember the People cover of Swayze as the sexiest man alive, those of us who were sitting around playing with our ACTUAL ninja turtles while our parents watched Perfect Strangers.
The irony in this film isn't irony at all. It's an overt spoof on the sad state of teenagers today, obsessed with everything from the past to appear smarter, yet cry (or worse) at the thought of a world without Wi-Fi. There's a few million teens somewhere out there laughing at Clapton's blurb about starting a music review site because they've been there and lived it. But then there are those of us who laugh at it because we were around when sites like those popped up, and can identify with how self-riteous teens began telling other self-riteous teens what to think and like.
The horror herein hearkens back to when movies like Scream were at their peak, a nice touch to connect with those of us who were somewhere in or near the teens when these films became popular. The music, culture, and the characters' absurd reverence for such gives all those of a certain age a good chuckle about what was decidedly uncool by the time we'd gotten to the late nineties and early two-thousands.
Along with the exceptional wit is the almost nonsense humor concerning things like Billy Nolan and Ione and Sloan's switch. Time travel appears out of nowhere and even though it's all meant to be silly, it actually skirts around the broader implications enough to keep one flowing with the story instead of stuck on minutae about how one thing or another could be possible. It's hard to find films that are so well written yet don't take themselves seriously. Most filmmakers use this as an excuse for plot contrivances and illogical characters, but since nothing really has a purpose, there's not much to find fault with. We are taken to this almost alternate universe where anything is possible and it doesn't matter why it's possible, or even that it is, it's simply part of what happens.
Detention is a really tough movie to describe to anyone who hasn't seen it, so I haven't really tried. Mostly I am thrilled to have a film that speaks very carefully to a very narrow age range and does it so specifically. It very cleverly pokes at the inability of current and barely former teenagers to create any wave or cultural phenomenon of their own, and instead focus the past and how hip the world was back then (the same world with very few cell phones, no 24-7 internet EVERYWHERE, etc.). It serves to remind us that at one time the youth of this country looked forward, wanted to change things, had ideals and beliefs that were strong enough to up-end pop culture occasionally. Now we have this vapid technological shells with an idyllic vision of fashion and music that exist outside of context, with no desire other than to have their smart phone smaller, or bigger, or whichever Apple says you need. No longer are we pushing forward, against the current, but riding it backwards in blissful ignorance, so aquiescent to the will of others, so scared of yelling or offending, or of truly being different, that the least we can hope for is for future generations not to copy the copycat generation.
Well, it's Better Than Wishmaster 3
It's never good news when sequels are filmed back to back, but I truly love getting as deep as I can in many of these horror franchises. Before anyone gets their feathers ruffled over the 5 I'm giving this film, realize that I'm rating with the context in mind. This is not stacked up against every movie ever, or even every horror movie ever. In the world of straight to video sequels, I think this 5 is well deserved.
Most of this movie is taken up with this sort of love triangle, which for some reason I found instantly vested in. Of all the mutations of relationships presented in horror movies, I thought that what the main girl and her handicapped boyfriend struggled through was conceivable and plausible. In many ways, this movie is more of a love story with horror elements than the other way around. There's some real sensitivity going on with this woman, and I spent most of the movie sympathizing with her and wondering where her emotional entanglements would lead her. This may not necessarily be a good thing when one is looking for a decent horror movie, but it caught my attention nonetheless.
Sadly, about halfway through the film this potential gets completely wasted as the Djinn tries to figure out exactly what human love is. This concept in and of itself could have been inventive to play with, but instead it turns into this sort of muddy quest of enlightenment for a decidedly malevolent creature not of this world to understand a thing or two about mankind.
On the horror front, the kills are pretty unoriginal and uninventive in becoming with all the sequels. Nothing new is added to the Djinn mythology, and the god-awful idea of Michael the angle sadly resurfaces from the previous film. And he's more of a vigilante or mercenary of god than any sort of angel. The thuggish demeanor and black and white personality of the angel leaves the Djinn the more human of the two. The film makers did a decent job of building up emotional suspense, but there aren't enough conventional horror elements to add up to much shock or surprise.
For the "prophecy" to have finally been "fulfilled" it would have been gratifying to see a bunch of Djinn causing general destruction and mayhem, but nothing of any grandeur or finality is attempted. It's better than the second sequel, but we've got a long way to go to revive the cleverness and freshness of the Djinn. Oh, and if anyone even thinking of making another film reads this, please cut out all that god and man and earth and Djinn and fire and void s***. Everyone's heard it a thousand times, and it doesn't ever hold a bit of relevance to, well, anything.
Summer's Blood (2009)
Should've Pushed the Taboo
First up, anyone reading this should be well aware that this movie is nothing but trash. And yet, there are degrees of trash. I'd rather fall in compost than rotting diapers. The acting is uneven, especially for our female lead, the camera work is dubious with its sort of floating grayness, and much of the dialogue is unnecessary, repetitive, at times inane, and narratively much is left to the imagination. The film did however hold my interest, purely because it so overtly dealt with perhaps the greatest modern taboo; incest.
As other reviewers have mentioned, "Summer's Moon" walks the line between horror and thriller, but never quite commits to either making for a somewhat bland presentation. The best thing the film had going for itself was its bold and unapologetic prevalence of incest. Whereas a shock factor such as this should've been pushed to the extreme, evoking all sorts of disturbing and grotesque feelings, it's left on the backburner as sort of the "oh no!" of the movie. The implications of incest are what are so shocking and disgusting to people. These characters however are somewhat immune to it. Not ignorant of or oblivious to, but immune to. It never impacts any of the characters in the way that it would impact an audience. The implications of mother/son, father/daughter, and brother/sister are more than enough to have the film banned in several countries. "Summer's Moon" never exploits the atrocity the way it should have being that incest is such a focal point of the plot and indeed it would seem one or more characters' sole motivational force.
I wish I could say that what the film passed up in the realm of psychological mayhem was made up for in gratuitous gore, but what little blood is shown isn't even as grisly as most prime time TV shows. There's never really any sense of dread or tension; certainly the script is to blame but the actors also had a very hard time emoting anything other than childish fear with such a whopping dose of abject curiosity thrown in that none of the characters are particularly convincing in their respective roles. Summer is just a little too nonchalant about being a prisoner, and Tom and Mom are just a little too aloof about keeping captives. There's just no indication that the characters themselves have any motivation, as if they had sprouted up in a vacuum and were plopped into this bizarre situation.
Finally, initially significant portions of the film end up stuck with no context. The "garden" was at first a bit eerie, mysterious, weird enough I thought there might be some half-decent reveal later on, but Tom's revolving door of girl-slaves gets shoved aside with no explanation about any of it or its relevance to Summer, who is clearly serving another purpose. And while psycho-Dad was easily the best actor of the lot, what exactly was the mechanism of his lunacy? Did he methodically plan out this whole scenario just to rape his teenage daughter ad infinitum? What did ANY of the film have to do with him killing random women? What purpose did the kidnapping of the last girl play at all? So many incidents are isolated that it can be tough to piece together the arrow of causality.
So, "Summer's Moon," you get a bit of a nod for diving right down into the incest, but somehow you got lost focusing on the murky reflection of the water rather than embracing it's depth and terror.
A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
Has "Die Hard" Died for Good?
When the fourth entry of Die Hard hit the world with a PG-13 rating and something about cyber-terrorism, I rolled my eyes. However, the plot was clever enough and the action scenes were so spectacular that I find myself liking it quite a bit. So when it seemed the franchise would return to it's R-rated roots, I was even more excited. The fifth Die Hard falls completely flat, and is a poor follow up.
From the beginning the plot is plain confusing. Maybe if I watched it a couple more times it would make sense, but in a fast paced environment like an action movie, the story should be smooth enough that it only takes a single viewing to know what is happening and why it's happening. I'm still not sure exactly what happened other than the vague threat of nuclear war. The little twists and turns that the movie took were ineffective because it was difficult to grasp what was happening before the twists and what role the characters involved in these twists played.
Willis and Courtney had zero chemistry and what was meant to be comedic and touching banter between the two became stale and annoying within 20 minutes. There is so little dialog other than the aforementioned drivel that I found myself unable to hold interest in the familiar "bad day" situation which follows McClane throughout the series. In the previous film, there was a nice contrast between the street-savvy yet technologically impaired demeanor of McClane and the relevant situation skills and non-confrontational nature of Matthew. Through decent writing, it was funny at times and created a balance that really connected the characters. In "Good Day..." I found McClane to have much less of a genuine spark with his own son.
The brisk running time fills most of it's time with moderate action sequences instead of bothering to develop anyone, even going so far as to reduce Willis to little more than a robot, stripping him of any charisma or brutish cleverness with a dash of luck that has defined him thus far. The action scenes are alright, but it isn't enough to keep me coming back to the film. I won't say I didn't like them, but the gun fights and explosions are handled in rather mundane ways without the expected ingenuity from past Die Hards.
When and if another Die Hard is made, it will almost surely have to be better than this one or I doubt the studio will even bother to slap a Die Hard label on it. No fun, no originality, and some seriously weak writing easily bump this film down to the bottom of the franchise.
The Breed (2006)
Well Done, but Perhaps a Little Too Forgettable
Have you ever seen a movie where you thought "what a great idea!" only to be let down by the execution? Well, "The Breed" is sort of the opposite. It's a fairly silly idea pulled off fairly well, especially in the horror sub-genre of animal/nature attacks. The cast is all pretty decent, no egregious under or over-acting. Rodriguez has a nice change of pace as the strong but friendly female lead.
Basically this film plays off of everyone's fear of a wild dog, although to spice it up a little these dogs rely on planning and strategy just as much as brute force. A little out there perhaps, but at least the dogs used are real and there isn't once a hint of a bulky puppet or too-slick-to-be-real CGI.
One aspect that sets "The Breed" apart from similar horror films is the logistical reasoning of the characters. Everyone's actions are generally understandable. Instead of the usual Act 2 fall-apart of all but the best horror movies, rife with teenagers who unleash a maniacal bloodlust or the bookworm who suddenly takes down several trained military personnel or (of course) the young adults who scoff at death with unchained promiscuity and substance use, we can clearly identify each of these characters as fairly average college-aged people. Another big plus is the absence of a gun as a plot device. The bow and arrow is the closest parallel, but realistically, it is used inefficiently and lost long before some pivotal moment of group survival. So often in horror movies I am befuddled by where so many guns pop up and why, if so many guns are floating around, no one can consistently seem to use one throughout the film.
So "The Breed" does get a nod for being as realistic as high-concept horror can, but unfortunately there isn't enough originality to keep it within memory very long. No spectacular atmospheres or moods generated, no breathtaking special effects or breakout performances; it's simply a fairly mundane idea pulled off quite well.
Cloud Atlas (2012)
I Wish this Had Been The Matrix 4
As much as people's eyes light up when discussing how ambitious, beautiful, or transcendental this film is, I think they are forgetting to admit that it's also quite simply long and boring. I'll admit that I had a tough time realizing it myself after three viewings. But it's true. Everyone is so focused on interconnectedness and reincarnation that they fail to see what is actually sloppy filmmaking, or sloppy storytelling, or perhaps both. I believe that many of those who watch Cloud Atlas are afraid that if six concurrent stories seems confusing or incoherent it must mean that they "don't get it" and therefore apply their own vague understanding of Eastern religion so that it becomes a profound tale of humanity.
I'll be honest. I wanted to like Cloud Atlas. Really bad. I resisted the urge to fiddle on my phone. I paused when I had to pee. I rewound when my kid yelled from the next room. But after 3 viewings, 2 one day and 1 the next, I realized that I was bored. I realized that I didn't miss anything walking out of the room for 60 seconds. Contrast with something like Mulholland Drive. That feels like an incomprehensible film at its end, but its never boring, and each minute holds import, even for someone who doesn't understand exactly what's happened. But Cloud Atlas tricks you. There's no payoff and the ride isn't even fun. But of course the less sense it makes must mean its all the profound, just waiting for little old super smart film loving you to discover its wondrous secrets. It's alright to admit that just because a film was made with 6 stories doesn't mean it's good. Ask someone to really tell you what's so fantastic about it, in detail, with specifics. It will be a bumbling affair with lots of vocal filler and big words like "connectedness."
I first went in expecting at the very least some very clever exercises in causality. I was pretty disappointed at the lame "connections" and a flimsy, undeveloped notion of reincarnation. Moreover the stories were just boring. For this film to even begun to have worked it needed to deal with stories that could stand on their own. But the viewer is so distracted by making connections and abrupt transitions that it takes a little while to see that these stories are incomplete. In fact, I was waiting for all but one to get to the "good part" and it never happened. Each is filled with a dull anti-climax culminating in insignificance. The very structure doesn't allow any time to connect with anyone. When you have a story devoid of anything to personally "connect" to, it gets very boring very quickly.
1849 is a dull plod through one man's minor morality struggle while he himself is subjugated by evil near and far. Surprise! Good guys win, yeah! 1936 wants to show off the purity of love and art by giving us a protagonist who can't find the time or courage to face his lover and would rather kill a man than give due credit to his composition. What is this? The world is cruel? Maybe, but your moral compass could sure use some calibration before we throw the pity party over your suicide. 1973 Corporations are evil and will clearly blow up planes. But daddy's little girl can't be beat down by "the man!" Power to the people yo! 2012 Yawn. Why should we care about this guy? He's obviously a little less honest with money than he ought to be and he slept with his brother's wife. What are you cheering for? 2144 Easily the most boring. A tired tale of revolution trimmed down to 30 minutes. And the bad guys win anyway. Revolution failed. 2312 or whatever. What could've been the most interesting segment is whittled down to incomprehensible babble, and for a story about contacting the colonies of a post- apocalyptic Earth it's made as purposefully uninteresting as possible.
It's just not that grand. Just because something has never been done doesn't mean it should, and just because someone did it doesn't mean they did it well. I will concede that Cloud Atlas is a fine treat for the eyes, but it doesn't contain the genius ending that justifies its tedious approach. I know the cuts between stories are quick, but don't let it fool you into thinking anything important is really happening.
As I said, I wanted to like this film, I still do. But it's so inflated with purpose, so intent on being profound, so dazzling in its premise, that it could never live up to whatever vision someone like me hoped for. What's there is even difficult to understand. Something is peculiar with the sound (very noticeable in The Matrix as well) that makes characters particularly hard to understand, more so considering the British and Asian accents in the first two, fourth, and fifth segments and the sixth remains all but a mystery without subtitles. The inclusion of a handful of actors for a few dozen roles is, like the film, surely ambitious, but ultimately distracting.
Ambitious does not equal pleasing, entertaining, or coherent. Sprawling does not imply meaningful length. Grand in scope is not synonymous with a cohesive narrative. Stop letting these words "cloud" your mind when you find yourself just plain uninterested in this ambitious, sprawling epic of grand scope. What one forgets amidst all this pomp is that things like pacing, restraint, and focus are consistent hallmarks of good filmmaking and good storytelling. The gimmick makes us too many promises that no one can keep. The objective ought to be to figure out what one wants to say and then form a creative way to say it. Instead, when it comes to Cloud Atlas, it seems that too many are wrapped up in how the story is told rather than the significance of what is told.