Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cloud Atlas (DVD 2012): a sort of review

I just watched Cloud Atlas.

"An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution."

What a bunch of crap. What codswallop. If you piled an Ossa of bollocks upon a Pelion of bollocks, you would not overtop this pile of bollocks.  A quick check around the net shows that it's supposedly six related  stories that show the interconnectedness of lives as souls reincarnated in new generations. Previous acts have far reaching consequences. The depths of evil and the heights of humanity in each person ebb and flow across lives.

The movie sketches this out by having the same distractingly few famous actors play all the major roles.  Unfortunately the movie is also composed of a patchwork of about four thousand already-existing scenes, and in many cases clichés, stitched together like Frankenstein's Monster to lumber across our view for almost three hours of screen time.  I don't mean to say the film-makers (including the famous Wachowski Siblings of The Matrix fame) used previous film footage, like a demented fan-montage - no, each scene was lovingly created by hand, and each ended up somehow resembling an iconic scene from a previous movie.

My overall feeling is that literary types shouldn't essay science fiction - for some reason they always assume they are breaking new ground. They aren't. Some dyspeptic whisky-drinking genre writer most likely got there in 1939. There's no shame in that, but don't come over shouting about you made a breakthrough.

Here are the homages, or clichés, or familiar-looking-scenes, however you want to characterize them, that I remembered afterwards.  We did hoot at a few more during the actual viewing.  If you have any to add, let me know and I'll put them in.

  1. Death star bridge extension scene with the hero leading the heroine across a chasm pursued by blaster fire.
  2. Someone with no imagination must have suggested they use the made-up dialect from Mad Max 3, only to be countered with "Wait, can't we use the made-up dialect from Waterworld?" And so the decision was made to use both.
  3. The concept of Soylent Green – so great they used it three times – as a reference in the old folks home, as in Fabricants eating Fabricants and in the far future, and where the scary guys from the 13th Warrior eat the nice jungle dwellers.  The Fabricants also "use a lot of energy" – suggesting the Matrix human batteries, as well.
  4. The Tron Lightcycle chase.
  5. The Logan's Run early termination with nice trappings scenario.
  6. Blade Runner's Asian city street decor in New Seoul.
  7. The mountains from Lord of the Rings. (Maybe these are hard to disguise, though...)
  8. The happy-primitive paradise people's clothing resembling the net-covered post-apocalypse people of Waterworld.
  9. The maudlin old guy telling the kids around the fire what happened in the old days from about 20 different movies including at least one Mad Max.
  10. Meronys dressed as Senator Amidala in the arena, firing her blaster with pinpoint accuracy as during her raid on the palace.
  11. The Jason Isaacs role of the Irish bruiser throwing someone off a building from Divorcing Jack – except, even though the person thus jettisoned is a book critic, the pseudo-Isaacs does not have the wit to crack, "Fastest reader I ever met – 15 storeys in 20 seconds."
  12. A scene of the devastation of the homestead when the adventurers come home from the mount – so familiar-looking I actually said out loud, "Look at these blast points – only Imperial Stormtroopers could be so precise."
  13. The Star Wars scene where Princess Leia is dragged out of her cell on the Death Star – including a chin-pinch, but not from Wilhuf Tarkin – instead from a guy who looks just like Mr. Spock.
  14. Sending a message from a dish as in that one where they do that (Contact?). Powering up the blue power beam from the dish from about five different movies.
  15. Computer interfaces that are all "twiddle your fingers in mid-air" to operate. I sometimes think that if I lived in that future, if I lost my balance while carrying a tray of drinks or something, my free arm's gyrations would start World War III.
  16. A hunted pair – a native and an outsider – go to ground in The Zone (My name for the crowded working-class or high-immigrant color-filled place where you happen across things like carts selling rat-on-a-stick, prostitutes with a heart of gold and people buying your urine for dye mordants. Every other science fiction movie and a third of historical thrillers have a Zone scene.)
  17. The ruling class of Neo Seoul are called Purebloods for no reason whatsoever that I can see.  (I think there's a Neo Seoul simply so someone can say "Old Soul" at one point, which is the only time that the supposed big themes of love and death, reincarnation and the possibility of change over lifetimes is ever really expressed.)
  18. The rest of Neo Seoul being, of course,  Coruscant from Star Wars.
  19. The opal-button deal, from the similar time-hopping movie Velvet Goldmine, that symbolizes a life transferred to the next body in both movies.
  20. The Spirit of Jazz from The Mighty Boosh (actually, the original stereotype is from Baron Samedi) (Also Riddley Walker's Drop John.)
  21. Phrase "off world colonies" from Blade Runner.
  22. Sonmi-451's name from Fahrenheit 451 (and the concept from THX 1138 and Ralph 124c 41+)
  23. Use of exotic artificial slave-girls who are Asian - they're always Asian these days as in The Windup Girl.  (Sigh.)

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin
I sometimes mention a product on this blog, and I give a URL to Amazon or similar sites. Just to reassure you, I don't get paid to advertise anything here and I don't get any money from your clicks. Everything I say here is because I feel like saying it.