Early Buzz: ‘Cloud Atlas’ Test Screening Reactions

The same breathtaking ambition that makes Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer‘s David Mitchell adaptation Cloud Atlas so intriguing also gives it the potential to flop, hard. Weaving together six interlocking stories that cut across time, space, and genre is difficult enough to do within the confines of a novel, to say nothing of a three-hour film. Then there’s that insane casting: stars like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, and Jim Sturgess are each playing multiple characters, in some cases switching genders or races to do so.

Thankfully, buzz from test screenings suggests that much more of it works than not. Keep in mind that quite a few things may have changed in the few months since testing began (for one thing, some of these folks saw a cut that was four hours long), and that these reactions are coming from people whose tastes we don’t know. Even so, a flood of positive reactions seems like a very promising sign. Hit the jump to read the comments.

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POTD: The Many Faces of ‘Cloud Atlas’

Before we’d even seen footage from Cloud Atlas, we knew that co-writers and co-directors Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski had given their cast a challenge: each actor would play multiple characters in the six interconnected stories that make up the film. Not only that, but actors would be, in some cases, playing characters of different gender and/or race than the actor’s own.

The long debut trailer for the film showed a bit of that in action, as we could see glimpses of Hugh Grant as what appears to be a violent post-apocalyptic shaman, and star Tom Hanks in a few different guises. Now the official site for the film is online, and it gives us some very clear looks at what actors like Hugo Weaving are doing in the film. He’s seen above in relatively “normal” mode on the left, and as a rather ghastly (and somehow Eddie Izzard-like) woman on the right. Check out more after the break. Read More »

Next week we’ll likely see some new footage from Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: An Unexpected journey, but for now let’s have a gander at ten new photos from the film. Pete mentioned EW’s cover story on the film in passing earlier today, but the site also has a whole batch of images that some of you won’t want to miss.

That’s Martin Freeman in warrior pose as Bilbo, above, and after the break you’ll get a look at Gollum, as well as at Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, and a bunch of dwarves stuffed into barrels for a river escape. Since Comic Con could ignite the whole “does shooting/projecting at 48fps suck or does it not?” conversation, for now let’s just check out the revival of Jackson’s vision of Middle-Earth. Read More »

We’ve talked a lot about Cloud Atlas, which sees Tom Tykwer teaming up with Andy and Lana Wachowski to head up parallel film units each shooting three tales adapted from David Mitchell‘s novel. The cast is great (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Bae Doona) and we’ve gone over and over about how the actors are playing multiple roles, genders and races. It’s big ambitious stuff, but if you haven’t read the novel it might also be easy to get totally lost in all the explanation. (Having read the book, it becomes a lot more clear, I promise.)

We;ve seen a few on-set photos and recently got a production wrap photo that shows a few of the props and set dressing bits used in the film.

But how about a couple more images? There is now one shot that suggests a lot about how the book’s six stories are being visually connected, as it shows the ship from the first tale seemingly approaching the dystopian version of Seoul, South Korea that is the setting for the fifth. There is also a great concept rendering of Seoul in the year 2144, complete with a high-speed pursuit in progress. And, as a bonus, we’ve got an actual shot of South Korean actress Bae Doona as she appears in the film. Check ‘em all out below. Read More »

I’ve gone on and on about Cloud Atlas, the film that Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski are directing based on the novel by David Mitchell. You’ll have to excuse my interest and enthusiasm — the film is a genre-hopping collection of six stories, with Tykwer and the Wachowskis directing parallel film units that each tackled three tales. It’s a crazy piece of ambitious filmmaking.

The cast is huge (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Bae Doona) and most actors are playing multiple roles. We’ve seen some spy pics of the shot, but now we have the first official image. It shows none of the actors, but does give a rare look at the Wachowskis, and shows some hints of the production design that should help ground the movie for anyone who has read the book.

Check out the pic below. Read More »

Ten years ago this week The Fellowship of the Ring was released. Peter Jackson‘s first Tolkien adaption silenced a great many naysayers who said J.R.R. Tolkien‘s novels could never be properly translated to film. It also fostered a mainstream interest in fantasy movies that continues a decade later.

The development of a film based on Tolkien’s original Middle-Earth novel, The Hobbit, was the subject of speculation as soon as Jackson started work on The Lord of the Rings. Actually making the movie was a terrifically complicated process that involved rights deals, the financial solvency of MGM, a long period of development under original director Guillermo del Toro, and the eventual return of Peter Jackson to the director’s chair.

Now the first teaser trailer — a long teaser, at that — has been released for the first of two films based on the novel. Get the first look at footage from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, after the break. Read More »

From the very beginning, the Andy and Lana Wachowski & Tom Tykwer adaptation of the David Mitchell novel Cloud Atlas has sounded pretty crazy. There’s the simple fact that the book is built out of six stories, each of which follows a different set of characters and is based on a different genre of storytelling. (You’ll find a ’70s thriller, a post-apocalyptic story of rebuilding civilization, a parable about corporate-controlled society, and more.) Some of the characters are releated to others in different stories, and there’s the idea that one soul connects all the tales. That’s just the book!

The film features a massive cast, including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Bae Doona. We know that many cast members are playing multiple characters in different stories, sometimes changing race and gender. And the film is being shot in two parallel halves, with Tom Tykwer directing three stories and the Wachowskis directing three. This movie might be a wreck, but if so it will still be the most fascinating wreck of 2012. And if it is good it might be remarkable.

In a new piece that focuses on the unconventional funding model for the movie, we get a bit more info about who’s directing what, and what characters at least one of the actors is playing. Read More »

The Wire‘s Michael K. Williams (who, like John Goodman, just guest-appeared on Community) was in the running for the title role in Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained, and though he lost the part to Jamie Foxx, he may still end up in the film, in a part written just for him.

Hopefully another new job won’t get in the way; Williams will now also be a producer and actor in Life Garland‘s indie thriller The Suspect, written by Stuart Connelly. Here’s how the writer describes the film: “Two African American social scientists pose as bank robbers in an effort to understand the racial dynamics of small-town law enforcement. However, their experiment takes an unplanned, deadly turn.” That’s a great premise that could be the beginning of a compelling film. We’ll definitely follow the development. Shadow and Act reveals that Isaiah Washington is also set for the film.

After the break, David Duchovny rides a sub, and The Last Stand and Cloud Atlas get new actors. Read More »

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