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New Cloud Atlas trailer offers gorgeous visuals, geeky Tom Hanks

Cloud Atlas

A new trailer for Cloud Atlas has hit the ‘net and like its relatively recent predecessor, it’s stunning. Normally a word like that would be slightly too hyperbolic for what is a mere two-and-a-half minutes of footage, but please, scroll down, click “play,” watch the thing, then, if you’d still like to argue about our word choice, we’re all ears.

For those of you whose first exposure to Cloud Atlas is this very article, we offer a quick primer. This film is based on a very high concept novel by author David Mitchell that explores the unintended effects our actions can have on the world at large, and, more to the point, the effects these actions can have on people separated by eons. The official synopsis is slightly more verbose:

Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.

As crucial to this film’s success as its source material are the people running this production. Andy and Lana Wachowski (you’d know them as the siblings behind The Matrix and its two, lesser sequels) have joined forces with Tom Tykwer (best known for directing Run Lola Run) to helm Cloud Atlas. Though the film is scheduled to see wide release on October 26, its worldwide debut will occur during the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival. We expect lots of exuberant praise to hit Twitter moments after the movie ends.

Now that you’re all caught up, let’s discuss the trailer itself. We absolutely love how the movie’s various time periods are delineated by drastically different aesthetic styles. The costume and makeup work seen in this footage is phenomenal. We’ve seen Tom Hanks play an astronaut, a bearded castaway and a mentally handicapped inspirational figure, yet the geeky professional outfit he’s seen wearing at the 0:36 mark of the below clip is impressive in how wholly unique it is — and that’s just one of the four characters Hanks plays in the film. Likewise, we’ve never been so pleased to see Halle Berry look so utterly frumpy. 

The most impressive bit of this whole thing however, begins at the clip’s 0:43 mark and continues sporadically through the rest of the footage. That futuristic cityscape obviously borrows visual cues from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner — though, in fairness, almost every film set in the far future swipes ideas from Blade Runner — but it also manages to include a number of unique visual elements. Walking on a water floor full of giant koi? Judeo-Christian ramifications aside, that’s a very cool concept, and gives us hope that Cloud Atlas will be as spectacular an experience as The Matrix was when it hit theaters in 1999. Or, failing that, we at least hope that Mr. Tykwer’s involvement can keep the Wachowski siblings grounded. When given too much freedom their work tends toward chaotic, incomprehensible visuals. 2009’s Ninja Assassin is a guilty pleasure of ours, but we’ll be the first to admit that its action sequences need far better lighting and less of that shaky-cam nonsense that the kids are so enamored with these days. And the less said about the Wachowski’s Speed Racer adaptation, the better.

Fingers crossed that Cloud Atlas is as entertaining as its impressive visuals and strikingly impressive cast might suggest.