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At The Movies: Cloud Atlas Review Roundup

Tom Hanks Halle Berry Tom Tykwer Larry Wachowski Andy Wachowski

We’ve taken a look at some Cloud Atlas reviews to see whether the Tom Hanks epic is worth your hard earned cash. Enjoy!

Based on the 2004, Booker Prize nominated book of the same name by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. It’s basically Love Actually for sci-fi fans, but what did the critics think? Well, they couldn’t really decide, culminating in a rather mediocre media response. “This is by no means the best movie of the year, but it may be the most movie you can get for the price of a single ticket,” wrote New York Times review A.O Scott, in a fairly positive review. However, The Newark Star Ledger condemned the film as a finished product: “If the talented Wachowskis are ever going to achieve true artistic nirvana, they're going to have to be more disciplined with their grand ideas, more ruthless in their rewrites.”

MSN Movies were perhaps the most succinct in their decision on the movie, writing: “It's kind of astonishing that for all its ambition and accomplishment, and for the ostensibly subversive philosophy it pushes, Cloud Atlas ends up being just another platitudinous overblown pummel-you-into-submission movie-machine.” Did we say succinct? We meant the opposite. To surmise, Cloud Atlas is a film for: a) movie lovers, b) fans of the book or c) fans of confusion and inevitable derision, or all three. Have fun. 

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Speed Racer Review

Speed Racer currently leads a race it won't want to win. Right now it's the summer's most irrelevant blockbuster, the first missed opportunity of a still-developing season that hasn't yet entered turn one. Even worse, Racer now sits in the pole position for the undesirable title of Year's Goofiest Movie.

Andy and Larry Wachowski, creators of the Matrix trilogy, contradict themselves from the start. The brothers have written and directed a live-action adaptation of the 1960s anime series that fails to keep a foot in reality. Speed Racer doesn't break new ground; it clings to cartoonish boundaries established by Wile E. Coyote as he pursued that pesky Road Runner. If The Matrix taught the pseudo-spiritual Neo that there was no spoon, then Speed Racer posits that there is no camera. Instead, the Wachowskis are free to bend and twist reality as they create their vibrant environments in high-tech computers. The effect imbues Racer with the depth and dramatic significance of a screen saver.

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V for Vendetta Review

A handful of films released during the 2005 Oscar race raised important questions about the unchecked influence of government. Stephen Gaghan's Syriana probed the unholy marriage of business and politics in the Middle East. George Clooney's Best Picture nominee Good Night, and Good Luck examined the witch-hunting tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the media's subsequent response.

For a while, Hollywood had returned to the conspiracy-theory vibe of the 1970s, when political dialect and public paranoia drove plot lines and inspired the creative minds of Francis Ford Coppola, Alan J. Pakula, and Sidney Lumet. I'm happy to report that the conversations prompted by Gaghan and Clooney are carrying over into 2006 with James McTeigue's V for Vendetta, an open rebellion against society's close-mindedness that's based on Alan Moore's incendiary graphic novel (though the irritable author has renounced any cinematic version of his work).

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The Matrix Review

What many people forget when comparing The Matrix to its own sequels (or the Star Wars prequels, or any other maligned sci-fi epic) is that this 1999 original has bad dialogue too. In fact, search the entire trilogy for a line more cringe-inducing than "Buckle up, Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye-bye," spoken by poor, wonderful Joe Pantoliano. I don't care how silly you think it is when Neo (Keanu Reeves) calls Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) "Trin" in Revolutions -- Wizard of Oz references "updated" into snarky baby-talk are worse. Series masterminds the Wachowski Brothers, like George Lucas, are aces with yarns and anything but light-fingered as writers.

Some of the grumpier nerds also love to point out that The Matrix rips off a bunch of anime; I usually can't care less about anime, but I would point out that its story has a lot in common with Dark City, which came out over a year earlier.

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The Matrix Revolutions Review

With their third (and hopefully, final) Matrix movie, the Wachowski brothers have delivered a dud so disappointing, they may as well have bussed in Ewoks to save Zion.

To understand why, let's just dive right in.

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Assassins Review

Okay, I admit it. I was expecting something horrible like Judge Dredd when I sat down for Assassins. Instead, imagine my surprise to find a nicely-crafted action thriller that does not feature Sylvester Stallone making a bunch of "witty" remarks.

Assassins is essentially an updating of a well-established story line. Robert Rath (Stallone) is the best in the world at what he does--killing people for money. But he's getting tired of it all and wants out of the business. Unfortunately, you can't just give two weeks notice to your faceless hit contractor; it's a bit more difficult than that. So it's understandable that Rath barely flinches when he finds out Miguel Bain (Antonio Banderas), the #2 assassin, is after him.

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Bound Review

Does anyone else out there have a terrible time taking Jennifer Tilly seriously, no matter what role she plays? Well, I do, and her performance in Bound is no exception to the rule.

Here, Tilly plays Violet, a mobster's wife with a plan to make off with $2 million of the Mafia's money. Enlisting the aid of Corky (Showgirls's Gina Gershon), your everyday laborer/lesbian-next-door, the two ladies play a game of double-cross with the mob, with Violet's husband Caesar (Risky Business's Joe Pantoliano) set to take the fall.

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The Animatrix Review

Somewhere between The Matrix and Reloaded lies The Animatrix. If you're a hardcore Matrix geek, this DVD has plenty of material to quench your thirst for the backstory that Reloaded so seriously lacked. Of course, if you're that heavy into this sci-fi saga, you've probably already bootlegged most of these shorts online.

In short, The Animatrix consists of nine animated short films. Best known among these is Final Flight of the Osiris, which serves as a prequel to Reloaded, and explains what the hell everyone was talking about in that opening scene. Directed by Andy Jones, Final Flight bears much of the look and feel of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, on which Jones served as animation supervisor. As with Final Fantasy, this brief adventure does more to advance the cause of CG animation than to convey any kind of meaningful story. Instead, it spends roughly half of its runtime in a VR sword fight that is reminiscent of Neo's first bout with Morpheus, except that in this version the fighters get naked. If you're the type who finds cartoons arousing, then this bit is for you. Otherwise, it's just wearying.

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The Matrix Reloaded Review

In 1999, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) uttered memorably, "Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is."

In 2003, no one needs to be told, because everyone fully knows what the Matrix is. The idea of the Matrix has entered the popular lexicon. Magazines, with utter seriousness, create polls asking whether readers think we are really living in the Matrix. And people say yes, apparently unable to realize that it is only a movie.

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The Matrix Revisited Review

The Matrix stands as one of the greatest films of the 1990s, and it's one of the most important ones, too. And why not give such a milestone film the mega-documentary treatment?

The Matrix Revisited is now on hand to tell anyone who cares to listen and learn about the most minute facets of the making of The Matrix, exploring everything from the studio's early nervousness to fight training to storyboards to wardrobe to the pioneering and widely-copied "bullet time" camera trick. While you've seen a lot of these before on endless behind-the-scenes documentaries. (In fact, you've seen some of this on the original Matrix DVD, which some correctly feel is robbing us, at least a little, by not simply including this documentary with it in the first place.)

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