September 10th, 2012
01:47 PM ET
A movie as sprawling as "Cloud Atlas" should offer enough to please everyone - or, at least, enough fodder to create plenty of divisiveness among critics.
The filmmakers can consider that a mission accomplished.
"Cloud Atlas," adapted from David Mitchell's novel of the same name by co-directors and writers Tom Tykwer and Lana and Andy Wachowski, has been the subject of a flood of early reviews from the Toronto International Film Festival, where it premiered Saturday.
It seems that critics are so divided, they can't even decide on how much adulation the film received.
Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter both took notice of an extended standing ovation after "Cloud Atlas" concluded Saturday, while the Boston Globe said "there was a kind of applause vacuum." (The review also suggested that had "Cloud Atlas" premiered at Cannes, "it would've been booed.")
But everyone can agree that the Wachowskis and Tykwer took on a huge risk trying to wrangle Mitchell's expansive exploration of human experience – told in six narratives that leap across locales and centuries – onto the screen. The movie employs a robust and renowned cast that includes the likes of Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant and more.
The actors portray a variety of roles, regardless of race, age or gender, as the film jumps from one time period and location to another while employing a mix of genres.
Entertainment Weekly called it "a dense, trippy, funny, fierce visual ride through 500 years," an adaptation that as a whole was "utterly, wonderfully epic."
The Hollywood Reporter was more measured, finding it to be a "mind-blowing film" that to its credit was successful with its performances, art direction and editing, but could give a viewer a headache with its maze of a plot.
The Guardian's review noted that the co-directors' decision to rearrange the six stories presented in Mitchell's novel by theme was a smart move, but disagreed that their concept of casting actors to play a variety of roles without regard to race or age was a good idea.
CinemaBlend's reviewer, Sean O'Connell, also leaned toward the middle, saying that he isn't "whole-heartedly in love with 'Atlas,'" but he is "in love with the creative effort and bravura film-making that infuses every single scene."
The Telegraph's review seems to hit it on the head with its observation that "Cloud Atlas" "is going to be far and away the most divisive film of 2012," and we plan on seeing it when it arrives on October 26, if only to join in the conversation.
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