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Watch: Staggeringly Ambitious, Visually Impressive 6-Minute Trailer For The Wachowski's & Tom Tykwer's 'Cloud Atlas'

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by Oliver Lyttelton
July 26, 2012 5:11 AM
19 Comments
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Update: Trailer now in HD at Apple, or watch below. And don't forget to read our extensive deconstruction of the trailer.

Well, damn. After a prolonged period of radio silence, this week has seen a flurry of activity regarding "Cloud Atlas," the adaptation of David Mitchell's acclaimed best-seller by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski. On Tuesday, it was announced that the film would make its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, yesterday saw the first images start to leak out, and overnight, the first trailer for the film leaked online. And, boy, what a trailer.

Running close to six minutes (somewhat appropriate for a film that weighs in at 164 minutes altogether), it's our first look at the film's eclectic cast, which includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Bae Doona, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, Keith David, James D'Arcy and Hugo Weaving, and the disparate worlds that the directors have created: a Pacific sea expedition in the 19th century, Belgium in the 1930s, San Francisco in the 1970s, London in the present day, Korea in a dystopian future, and Hawaii at the end of time.

As big fans of the book, we've wondered for some time if the filmmakers would be able to come anywhere close to its material, but we have to confess that this is pretty stunning, for the most part. The production values look incredibly high, the scope and ambition and variety is like nothing else we've seen in a long time, and the cast, aided by some excellent make-up, look to be rising to the occasion; we can't remember the last time we saw Hanks or (more briefly) Grant look so engaged in their material (and if you've ever wanted to see Hanks as a goateed, balding London gangster, or Grant as a warpainted cannibal, the chance has finally arrived). 

We have no idea what you'll make of this if you're unfamiliar with the book. And we have no clue if this'll actually work as a whole. Neither the Wachowskis nor Twyker have been totally on their game for a while, and there's stuff that gives us pause here; Halle Berry's flat line readings, Jim Sturgess in Asian-face, some clunky lines. But we're also sort of in love with the sheer boldness of what they're trying, and we're dying to see more. So what do you think? Does it look like an under-the-radar film of the year contender? Or the next "Southland Tales?" Let us know in the comments section once you've watched the trailer below (an HD version should be along before the end of the day; we'll update as and when it comes in.) "Cloud Atlas" will premiere at TIFF in about six weeks, before hitting theaters on October 26th, 2012.

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19 Comments

  • mayur patel | July 28, 2012 10:30 AMReply

    such a classic trailer it is! this one's gonna be another masterpiece. I'm a big fan of Hanks. waiting for the release.

  • Dennis | July 26, 2012 3:43 PMReply

    Sure hope that that voiceover that explains everything in painful obvious detail doesn't make it to the movie itself.

  • rotch | July 26, 2012 12:42 PMReply

    It's up in HD on apple http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/wb/cloudatlas/

  • jason | July 26, 2012 12:10 PMReply

    It looks like they're doing a lot of things right. All six stories are there. My biggest concern is whether the stories will be all mixed together (a la Magnolia, or Crash, or Babel), or whether the organization of the novel (first halves, then second halves in reverse order) will be respected. If they want this movie to feel as different from other movies as the novel felt from other novels, they'll do the latter.

  • The Fanciful Norwegian | July 27, 2012 12:21 AM

    They've said they're going to be intercutting between the stories. But then who goes to the movies to see something "different," am I right?

  • Jim | July 26, 2012 12:08 PMReply

    Off their game? Are you mad? The last film the wrote and directed was 'Speed Racer' and that was a superb, masterpiece of a family film.

  • rotch | July 26, 2012 12:06 PMReply

    Here's the clearest rip I've seen so far

    http://news.mtime.com/2012/07/25/1493511.html

  • Dirk Diggler | July 26, 2012 12:05 PMReply

    Catch the 6-minute trailer here before it's taken down too.

    http://www.vulture.com/2012/07/cloud-atlas-trailer-video-halle-berry-tom-hanks.html

  • Kevin | July 26, 2012 10:25 AMReply

    Ugh. 164 minutes of meditative voiceovers of people saying things like, "I can't explain it but I feel like we've met before in another life"? I think I'll wait for the DVD so I can fast forward whenever necessary.

  • Drew | July 26, 2012 9:42 AMReply

    "Looking like 'Southland Tales'" is a bad thing?

  • rotch | July 26, 2012 10:16 AM

    Southland Tales is a hideous mess, but I love every incoherent minute of it.

  • Rodrigo | July 26, 2012 10:03 AM

    200% yes.

  • Oliver Lyttelton | July 26, 2012 10:00 AM

    100%, yes.

  • Daniel | July 26, 2012 7:50 AMReply

    What is the name of the song playing? Who performs it?

  • daniel | July 26, 2012 8:26 AM

    Thank you!

  • J | July 26, 2012 8:08 AM

    Outro by M83

  • Natalie | July 26, 2012 5:39 AMReply

    Although I haven't read Cloud Atlas yet (I will make sure I do that soon) I am familiar with David Mitchell, and when I heard that it would be adapted for the screen I was quite astonished that they would even attempt to, considering how bizarre and complicated Mitchell's books are. But this trailer silenced some of those concerns and I have to say I haven't seen such a visceral and intriguing trailer like this in a long time. But of course you can argue that the film may be a bit TOO ambitious and could possibly result in a narrative mess...and like you mentioned above, the Wachowski brothers/Tom Twyker haven't produced their best work in a while. Nonetheless, I'll still be excited when this one comes out : )

  • papa | July 26, 2012 5:31 AMReply

    It looks like an aloe vera commercial.

  • loudrockmusic | July 26, 2012 6:12 AM

    I can see that.

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