Cloud Atlas: Formula for a Turd

One day I made the mistake of watching Cloud Atlas. I did this because I saw the trailer and thought the trailer was awesome. Not realizing that the trailer was a mishmash of formulaic horseshit designed to elicit an emotion from the viewer, I ended up feeling genuine surprise when, around hour four of this foot-long turd, I wanted to hunt down everyone associated with the production of this movie and put them so far deep in the ground that they would never be able to hurt us ever again.

Here’s a list of many of the reasons why Cloud Atlas sucks. This list is by no means comprehensive. I want the reader to be able to check in, see what’s up, and check out within a few minutes, which is a damn sight more considerate than Cloud Atlas when it comes to wasting peoples’ time.


They went with “Everything is connected” only after the tagline “Everything is horseshit” was thumbs-downed by studio executives.

First off, writers and directors: Get your actors under control. I realize that idolizing the performance of actors is kind of hard-wired into us, and it seems like you should be able to put a much-loved actor in front of the camera, let them do whatever, and then catch all that money as it comes flying at you – but it’s also very very dangerous to do that. Let’s face it, an actor is a narcissist. When a normal person goes in front of the camera, they freeze up and consider suicide. An actor, on the other hand, will begin gesticulating wildly, then launch into a piece from Hamlet that they’ve had memorized since high school, and then after that they’ll really start showing off (cartwheels, etc).

Mm hm.

Mm hm.

For instance, Cloud Atlas features the first-ever “acting” performance by Tom Hanks. It’s a pretty well-known fact that Tom Hanks always plays the same character in every movie he’s ever been in. In Cloud Atlas, he finally gets to act in no less than seventeen different roles, and it’s obvious that he loves it. For the audience, it’s exhausting. It’s akin to watching a five year old trying to get your attention with an endless series of splits and fart noises.

And then there’s Hugo Weaving. The sedate, badass dude who played Agent Smith and Elrond has been reduced to some kind of evil goblin sitting on someone’s shoulder trying to get them to do something bad. It’s eerily reminiscent of the “marijuana” character from a thousand different Say No to Drugs videos that you were forced to sit through in school. It’s just as annoying in Cloud Atlas as it is in this video (bonus points if you can make it all the way to the end):


Check out a sweaty Super Mario trying to convince your children not to use drugs. Ironically enough, Mario actually gains his power from amanita muscaria mushrooms. They do not, in fact, make him “go to hell before he dies.”

And then there’s the hyper-realistic future-speak that the viewers must listen to without giggling or shaking their heads. Everyone knows that languages change over time. If you time-travelled to the year 2400, English would probably sound a lot different than it does now. However, can you imagine if Star Trek, Star Wars, Enders Game, Dune, and all those other sci-fi worlds each had their own unique language? No, reader, no no no, it would not be cool or interesting – it would be exhausting. When we read or watch stories that take place in the future, it’s always kind of assumed that the characters will speak in the parlance of today. This isn’t for the sake of realism, of course, but out of consideration for the viewer (it is assumed, of course, that the writer does not utterly despise his audience).

In fact, while I was trying to endure my viewing of Cloud Atlas, I was haunted by the idea that the future language of Cloud Atlas sounds almost exactly like Pootie-Tang: Sine Your Pity on the Runny Kine. Check it out:


Here’s another reason why this movie deserves to be slapped and tossed into a dumpster. Cloud Atlas goes through the motions of being an epic drama, as it features fifty-seven different characters taking part in eleven different stories, but if you took each individual story and made a conventional three-hour movie out of it (instead of mashing them together into a twenty hour movie), then each individual piece would be revealed as a boring, balls-deflating mess. The dystopian Asian story kind of goes through the motions of having a “big reveal” in the end, and while I won’t spoil anything for you, I will go ahead and say that your first assumption about what will happen to the slaves when they are “ascended” does in fact happen.

They live in an authoritarian corporatocracy so I didn't see this coming.

They live in an authoritarian corporatocracy so I didn’t expect things to get all dystopian.

The other individual stories don’t have big reveals, but they do something even better: They solve the problem of racism. No joke! Now, I had my racism taken care of years ago when I saw Dances with Wolves, but I understand that a lot of you out there are somehow still racist. If that is the case for you, then by all means see Cloud Atlas. You will perhaps feel uncomfortable with the idea that the non-white races do not deserve to be exterminated or enslaved, but repeat viewings of Cloud Atlas (let’s say four or five viewings, clocking in at one thousand hours all together) will eventually get the message across. In the future-speak Pootie-Tang storyline, Tom Hanks’s character is torn between the idea of whether or not he should kill a (mostly) black woman who has done him no harm. Granted, Hugo Weaving in full goblin makeup is trying to convince him to kill her, AND she has her back turned. Who among us hasn’t killed at least one “racially undesirable” person who was nice to us but made the awful mistake of turning their back?

cloud atlas tom hanks halle berry


I guess what really galls me about Cloud Atlas’s attempt to heal the racial divide is the fact that it feels like a self-congratulatory piece written by a honkster who’s harboring more than a little bit of white guilt. It’s not challenging, it’s masturbatory, and I had to pay about ten bucks to find out that this schmuck feels real bad about something his ancestors did a long-ass time ago. Probably ten minutes of investigative work could reveal that the writer has logged in thousands of hours on the chat rooms at WhiteMakesRight dot org… PLOT TWIST!!!!!!!

But here’s what really slams into my butt about Cloud Atlas (this is my “big reveal” so GET READY FOR IT). It’s the fact that this overblown mess made me want to run to my computer and make a snarky blog post about it, in essence turning me, a sentient human being, into yet another internet dingaling who feels the need to get his amazing opinion out there as if humanity was waiting with bated breathe to find out what some dipshit thinks about something. Thank you, Cloud Atlas, for showing me that I’m no different from a million YouTube users who feel the need to complain about the whole “Democrats versus Republicans” thing!

*     *     *

Hey readers! If you liked this post, you should check out some of my books. I’ve got an epic series called Demonworld, which is equal parts Mad Max and Lord of the Rings (think “science fantasy”), and a much-loved gamebook series called Heavy Metal Thunder which is currently a hyperlinked Kindle book but will be a fancy phone app any day now.

29 responses to “Cloud Atlas: Formula for a Turd

  1. Pingback: Cloud Atlas: Formula for a Turd | kylebstiff

  2. Did you read the book? I did, most of it, rather. No biggie if you didn’t. It’s like every writing workshop at the university I ever took. Very rarely has the book you really loved been read by anyone else . We always ended up talking about films, and there you could get some response. So, the film has not too much in common with the book critics described as a Romanov egg, Maybe. All I know is the guy who wrote it did something very, very clever I will not talk about unless someone else mentions it. I hope I can do something like that, only parallel. A gesture of equal audacity that paid off bigger than he could have hoped, I’d bet.


    • You know, I haven’t read the book, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it’s yet another example of “the book is better than the movie.” It makes sense that a book would be able to go into strange and interesting places that wouldn’t necessarily work in film, but that just makes it even more strange that the movie fails because in some weird sense they tried “too hard” on it! Too many big actors with too much leeway given. The strangest nine hours I’ve ever spent in a theater!


  3. Well shit. I’d been anxiously awaiting the release of this on Blu Ray and had become pretty perturbed at the delay of its release. Now I’m not so sure it’s worth checking out. Your movie taste usually tends to be pretty in line with mine so I’m sure I’d probably not enjoy it and have plenty of complaints as well. The trailers seemed promising (Of course trailers for Hobo with a Shotgun, The Lost Coast Tapes, and Rubber looked pretty wicked too and they were horrid shit turd sandwiches). I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Wachowski brother’s body of work thus far….erm…wait a minute…what do we call them now that Larry has become Lana !?! I guess their next flick will just be by “The Wachowskis” *scowl*. I’ve also always LOVED Tom Tykwer’s films, Run Lola Run is easily in my top 50 all time favorites. Oh well if it’s shit, it’s shit. Taking that off the mental list of things to purchase. Also now I’m curious, have you watched anything the past few months or so that you thought was REALLY good that I may have missed (new or old)? We’ve been working through the original Planet of the Apes and Shogun Assassin on Blu Ray recently and I bought the Hobbit and Zero Dark Thirty this week to watch sometime in the near future. Don’t laugh… I have pretty high hopes for Zero Dark Thirty. Kathryn Bigelow has directed some pretty decent flicks over the years: Strange Days, Near Dark, and Point Break are undeniable classics. -Devin Amos


      • I don’t know what you’re talking about la la la la la. The Wachowskis never did a Speed Racer re-boot. I refuse to process that information…


  4. I agree that Cloud Atlas was a tiresome bore of a movie…but you wait with ‘bated’ breath, not ‘baited.’ If you’re going to post your dipshit opinion for the world to read, spellcheck 1st.


    • Hey Lisa, thanks for the spelling help. Unfortunately an automated spellcheck system wouldn’t catch something like that since “baited” is also a word, even though it’s not the one I was wanting! Anyway, I’m sure you’ll find the spelling to be pretty solid on this site, all things considered. The fact that you used a misspelling as an opening to get a little snarky makes me wonder if you weren’t perhaps “baited” into commenting because you are an actor, or have aspirations about being an actor, or maybe you just idolize actors, which makes you think I used a lot of uncalled-for low blows in this piece. Just remember: Actors are idolized everywhere, but when it comes to managing our culture, it’s totally healthy to knock something down a peg or two if it goes unexamined for too long and becomes a ridiculous “sacred cow”. I’m not doing anything awful here. There are many, many magazines on grocery store racks that idolize these people who have a very narrow range of skills and, when you look at them closely enough, aren’t that smart or enlightened and don’t even have very much to say. Should they be worshipped? Should they really?

      If I’m totally wrong about acting being one of your sacred cows, then forgive me! Maybe you just have high blood pressure and come off as someone who is “on edge”.


    • This is what happens if you watch Cloud Atlas whilst waiting on your period.

      You start out agreeing that it sucks, but you end up being a snarky b*tch.


      • We basically had to become violent vigilantes who took the law into their own hands because this movie stole from us everything we loved… we had no choice! Nobody can judge us until after they’ve seen this movie, but I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy!


  5. the best part of Cloud Atlas was when the gay…excuse me homosexual composer shot himself in the head in the bathtub…this is exactly after an hour and a half I was feeling…so much talking about how great the movie is made me wanna check it…after watching it I’m wondering why…oh god why did I waste 2 and a half hours of watching this s***…this movie just has big name actors in a booooooring plot with ideals that wants to portrays that are so used by now in movies…and the worst part is that it fails to portraits them…it was said that Cloud Atlas was an epic drama…I can honestly say that it was an epic fail


    • Agreed, Krtic! When that sweet, merciful bullet ended his life, I too was consumed by intense jealousy. “You mean he doesn’t have to put up with this horseshit movie anymore?!” I said to myself. Fortunately the movie ended eighty-seven hours after that, but now I’m still haunted by the possibility that maybe I DID die in that theater… alone, bored out of my mind, with nothing for my mind to focus on… and now I am just a ghost, a phantom wandering through a shadowy world…


  6. I just watched this ‘film’ Ondemand. I of course immediately then googled “Cloud Atlas sucks” in the hopes to find something exactly like this blog. THANK YOU. You are both hilarious and spot on. It’s 3 am, I have to get up at 7, and I’m hating myself for wasting so much time that I could have been sleeping. Your blog made it more bearable in retrospect.


    • Thanks for the kind words, Beth! I’ve been taking the most powerful PTSD drugs that the modern pharmaceutical industry can provide so I can suppress the memory of Cloud Atlas, but I think that your smooth and classy message will, perhaps, give me the strength to lower my dosage. A little bit. Maybe.


  7. Reading from Brazil… just searched for the expression “Cloud Atlas sucks” on google and read the first result. Maaan, what a sucking movie! worst i ever watched.


  8. SUCKS. agreed. a pile of artistic gibberish. yes, art can be interesting but sometimes it just doesn’t have any meaning. Yes, the Elrond shoulder demon was like WTF? Yes, the pseudo-Shakespeare speak was mostly unintelligible.


    • Yeah man! You know, a lot of people are open about hating movies like this, but they keep getting made, so I sometimes wonder if silly, overblown, sentimental slop gets made because studios assume we love it because we give them our money *before* we see the movie. As far as they know, I loved this movie! The truth is that I thought the trailer was really cool, but the love affair ended after that. Now, if I could have given them a few dollars before seeing the movie, like paying rent for my seat, and then paid them the rest of the money *after* the movie IF I liked it, then they might put this sort of thing to a stone-cold stop!


  9. Thank God that I’m not the only one who thinks this movie was the worst movie ever made… I had to watch this with a friend who thinks this is the best movie ever… I wasted 3 hours of my life I will never get back. Someone out there please, please cut this movie up into little pieces and stitch them back together in the correct order so that it is watchable? I rent movies to be fed entertainment, not watch things “out of order” and have to piece things together like some sort of school assignment.


    • Yeah I think they’re using the old trick of moving the viewer’s attention around to keep us from realizing that if you played any one of those stories by itself in order, it would be mind-numbingly boring. Unfortunately for them, even out of order the stories are STILL mind-numbingly boring! That’s depressing that there are some people out there who like Cloud Atlas, I’m sorry you had to go through that!


    • I’m so sorry this happened to you. Fortunately a lot of support groups for people who accidentally watched Cloud Atlas are popping up all over the States, surely there will be some in Canada as well. I wonder if there would be a way for us to band together and take legal action against the writer, director, and the actors who did this to us?


  10. I also googled “cloud atlas sucked” and got to your awesome review. I meant the book and not the movie, but you perfectly described why I had to “slap it and toss it into a dumpster.” It’s not English and it’s annoying.

    I never comment on other blogs, but felt compelled here. Thanks for sharing your opinion. I didn’t even know I was waiting for it with bated breath. 🙂


    • Oh God, the old bated breath controversy! Now that you’ve brought it up again, a dozen fans of Cloud Atlas are going to see this and remember how much they hate me, and come to my door dressed up as that goblin Elrond character, out for blood and ready to… ready to… oh, wait a minute… Cloud Atlas doesn’t even have a dozen fans! Guess I’m in the clear.

      Anyway, glad you liked the post! Sometimes I feel guilty for writing something so mean-spirited, and I think about taking it down. I’m not a big fan of harsh critics who just beat up on stuff. But then I remember that fateful day when I sat in a movie theater for eighteen hours, watching Cloud Atlas from start to finish… and then I think: No, never give in, never take that page down!


  11. Just downloaded a pirated copy of this…let’s call it a cinematic movement (akin to a bowel movement), and I felt the need to Google “Cloud Atlas sucks”. Seeing the comments, I was not the only one…

    Full points to you sir, for hitting this cinematic movement on the head. It’s a terrible over pretentious piece of that yellow stuff that comes out of the head of a old horses cock. It’s like a turd wrapped in golden foil: looks great but go deeper and it’s just shit.

    What bothered me the most is that one of the best scenes was ruined by terrible acting. I’m talking geezer Hanks, who throws the critic out of the window. I should love that moment, but due to the TERRIBLE acting of mr. Hanks, I just cringed through the ever so glorious “thud” the critic made when he hit the concrete.

    This movie was so bad, I’m going to check out the book. With a movie this bad, the book has to be fantastic!


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