Cloud Atlas (2012)

“Deep, Clever and Fascinating Story, Stick With It” 8/10

Cloud Atlas explores the lives of several “souls” over the course of centuries to see how their past lives impact their future lives and how they can be changed and shaped by their circumstances and the current state of the world that they live in.  The film takes us full circle, from centuries ago more primitive lifestyles, to present day, right through to the high-tech future and right back to our primitive forms again, and shows us each “souls” journey through time.

The first time I watched this film, I gave up half way through.  It was overly complex and short, each character offering only a snippet of their story before they were replaced by another character’s half-story, and they never quite seemed to link up.  I didn’t feel like I could sense any promise of something good and so switched off, turning my attention to the fact that it may be better as a book and considering reading that instead.  Two days later I had completely changed my mind, having had time to think over the story and the message, and watched it right through, and I wasn’t disappointed with the second half.  The film is certainly confusing and disjointed, but you just need to stick with it.  It takes a long time to get off the ground but when it does you realise how clever and profound the story is, how important each of those half-stories of characters are, and it all starts to join together, making more and more sense with every new scene.

Each of the main actors (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Ben Wishaw to name but a few) has several characters that the portray, some recognisable as themselves, some utterly unrecognisable, and each actor characters are all part of the same “soul”, which is what makes it so clever to watch once it eventually becomes apparent that this is the case.  The story is just so cleverly written and it’s really enjoyable to watch the actors play each different character, showing off their capabilities.  If I had to pick the strongest link I would say Tom Hanks, who I think is a really brilliant actor who is capable of playing a variety of roles, particularly the reluctant hero, and I think he was absolutely suited to such a film where he could display his acting range with a wide selection of varying roles.

Cloud Atlas may be somewhat confusing and very slow-burning in the beginning but the plot really is something quite special and rare, exploring a concept that is practically undiscovered.  It is a deep, clever and fascinating story, stick with it and you’ll grasp its sentiment.  I am in no doubt that I will now explore the book as well.

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The Imitation Game (2014)

Touching Performance of a Fascinating Story10/10

The Imitation Game is based on the true story of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a cryptanalyst who became employed by the British Government during World War II to attempt to crack the notorious code machine that the Germans are using to send messages. Socially retracted, Turing struggles to work within his assigned team and instead chooses to work on Enigma, a machine of his own design that he believes will finally crack the code and help stop the war.

I really enjoy documentary style films and was really drawn to the story as I didn’t know much about the life of Alan Turing. His story is fascinating and tragic and the style of the film feels really quite personal and intimate, focusing a lot on the emotional and psychological aspects of his life as much as his work creating Enigma. Benedict Cumberbatch is one of my most admired actors and I feel he really shines in this style of film, much like he did in The Fifth Estate (2013). He’s such an accomplished actor that he brings an extra dimension of personality to the roles of these real life stories and he was absolutely the right choice for Turing, he is capable of offering the right amount of sensitivity that makes you warm to the character, and also excels at acting the socially awkward role without making it feel forced and fake. Cumberbatch was completely the right choice for the lead in this film and I’m really excited to see who’s story he will offer us next. There are a fair few other famous faces making up the rest of the small cast who all compliment the story well and enhance the character of Turing, but most notably I really warmed to Keira Knightly as Joan Clarke, the only woman in the team who not only brings a strong character to the mix but also a softer side that works really well with Cumberbatch and is particularly key towards the end of the film. It would be great to see the two of them work together in another film in future.

The Imitation Game is a beautifully well done film, with Benedict Cumberbatch offering a touching performance in this fascinating story. Regardless of how much you already know about Alan Turing’s story this film is well worth a watch, I can’t recommend it highly enough.