DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Cloud Atlas (Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy) (2012/2013)

A complex and distinctive nearly three-hour film that may take more than one viewing to really appreciate.

Published on June 2, 2013

Cloud Atlas (Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy) (2012/2013)

Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, James D’Arcy, Susan Sarandon
Directed by: Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski
Studio: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment [5/14/13]
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA; French or Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Focus Points featurettes: (“A Film Like No Other”, “Everything is Connected”, “The Impossible Adaptation”, “The Essence of Acting”, “Spaceships, Slaves & Sextets”, “The Bold Science Fiction of Cloud Atlas” and “Eternal Recurrence: Love, Life and Longing in Cloud Atlas”);  preview trailer for “The Great Gatsby”; DVD copy; digital copy
Length: 172 minutes
Rating: ****   Video: ****1/2
Audio: ****     D-BOX: ****1/2

Cloud Atlas tracks the stories of a group of people’s souls over time periods during the past, present and future.  There are six major storylines in the movie, and as characters from these storylines reunite from one life to the next, their interactions and the actions they subsequently take, all generate consequences.  The storylines are that of: a lawyer, whose family is in the slave trade, writing a diary in the 1800s while on a Pacific Ocean voyage; a talented composer writing letters to a lover in the 1930s; a reporter investigating a case about a nuclear power plant in the 1970s; a publisher’s comical incarceration in a nursing home in 2012; a clone’s escape and rebellion in the 2100s; and a tribesman fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic 2300 world.  Ultimately, it is a grand story that tries to demonstrate that people’s lives are connected and influenced by each other.  Cloud Atlas is a very complex movie.  The jumping back and forth between time periods and characters makes it challenging to understand everything that is happening, especially upon just a single viewing.  That being said, I did enjoy the movie as it was different from anything that I have seen before. It combined elements of science fiction, mystery, drama, romance and action.  While I still may not understand all of what the film was attempting to convey, I applaud its originality and think it’s certainly worthy of a viewing (or better still, several).  Recommended!

The overall high-definition video quality of this Blu-ray disc is excellent.  Images are crisp with exquisite detail.  Black levels are dark throughout the movie with only minor instances of crush.  Colors are warm and with fully-saturated hues.  Picture defect mastering is commendable with no major flaws or compression artifacts.  The overall audio quality is very good with the English DTS HD-MA 5.1 track.  Although there are some dynamic action sequences, the soundtrack, on the whole, is reserved, but does superbly manage to incorporate all of the discrete channels into what is an enveloping mix.  Dialogue is clean, intelligible and properly positioned among the forward channels.  The surround channels are active throughout, utilized for ambient sound effects and the musical score, plus incorporate several split rear effects.  The low frequency effects channel is selectively utilized but does provide ample deep bass when engaged.

Cloud Atlas is compatible with the D-BOX Motion Code™ System, meaning that if you have the necessary D-BOX equipment, your movie viewing experience will be enhanced by adding both motion and vibration to your chosen seating.  Motion effects and vibration are active throughout the entire movie and range from subtle to intense.  Particular scenes to check out for demo-worthy D-BOX moments in the movie are: (1) the sequence where Halle Berry’s reporter character is being chased and her car is sent crashing into the water during the 1970s storyline; (2) the sequence where the female clone and her rebel savior are being chased through the city in the 2100 storyline (there is excellent side-to-side movement and powerful vibration here); and (3) the sequence where Tom Hanks’ tribesman character is fleeing from the cannibals on horseback.

—Calvin Harding Jr.




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