October 16, 2012
* (out of four)
Despite its remarkable superficiality, I still didn't expect the infinitely earnest, three-hour epic "Cloud Atlas" to include a scene in which a naked man attempts to hide his downstairs business behind a cat--only to have the cat bite his goods and cause the guy to fall out a window. Other than this and a few other moments of painfully broad comedy, this epic disaster from Chicago-native writers/directors Andy and Lana Wachowski ("The Matrix") and Germany's Tom Tykwer ("Run Lola Run") attempts to weave together an ambitious portrait of the universe but forgets to deliver anything remotely powerful or profound. In fact, the film plays like a trailer for itself as it jumps in time and place from past to present to future, and several actors (including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon and Jim Broadbent) play many different characters. This merely yields a wide variety of poor performances and worse makeup jobs in service of groan-worthy dialogue like "My uncle was a scientist, but he believed that love was real." I cannot believe what I saw in "Cloud Atlas," but I know hogwash when I see it.
See it: 7 p.m. Oct. 17 ($25), with the Wachowskis and Tykwer in attendance