David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
Knowles and Larter's headbutting brawl in 2009 suspense thriller Obsessed won the pair the top prize in the Best Fight category, announced during the red carpet pre-show in Los Angeles.
Tom Cruise then kicked off the ceremony, reviving his foul-mouthed, bad-tempered Tropic Thunder character Les Grossman for a hilarious skit featuring Twilight stars Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson.
Will Smith's 11-year-old son, The Karate Kid star Jaden Smith, also appeared, showing off his fighting skills in a showdown against Cruise's character.
Twilight star Kristen Stewart picked up the first on-stage honour for Best Female Performance for her role as Bella Swan in the vampire franchise, beating out Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Zoe Saldana (Avatar), Emma Watson (Harry Potter) and Amanda Seyfried (Dear John).
Accepting the award, Stewart kept her speech short, telling the crowd, "Thank you so much this is awesome. I guess Twilight is really awesome and I agree. I want to say hi to Chris (Weitz) because I haven't talked to him in a while. He directed the movie (Twilight sequel New Moon) and I really loved him and how cool is this, right? I'm going to peace out. Thank you so much."
Twilight co-stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were the toast of the evening as they both triumphed in the Best Female and Male Performance categories.
The rumoured real-life lovers also shared the prize for Best Kiss, and teased the crowd by debating whether or not to follow tradition with a live lip-lock. But Stewart let viewers down by snubbing a Pattinson smooch, declaring: "To be perfectly honest with you, it takes a lot of smoke and mirrors to make us look good kissing."
Pattinson was also dubbed the night's Global Superstar.
Other MTV Movie Award winners included Anna Kendrick, who was named the Best Breakout Star, accepting the prize for her role in Up in the Air, opposite George Clooney; meanwhile, The Hangover stars Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong won for Best Comedic Performance and Best WTF Moment, respectively.
But it was Sandra Bullock's return to the spotlight that really got audiences revved up as she accepted the MTV Generation Award.
The Oscar winner, who stepped away from the public eye in the weeks after her husband Jesse James' infidelity was exposed in the press, was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation after an introduction by Bradley Cooper, Betty White and Scarlett Johansson - who unexpectedly planted a kiss on the actress.
Bullock laughed off rumours she plans to quit acting, and made light of her personal life, telling the crowd: "Now that we have done that (kissed), can we please go back to normal? Because therapy is really expensive."
The evening also featured a series of hilarious skits starring Tom Cruise as his foul-mouthed, bad-tempered Tropic Thunder character Les Grossman - including a performance with a group of scantily clad backing dancers and a surprise duet with Jennifer Lopez.
Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg took the stage to perform her track California Gurls, while Christina Aguilera closed the show by debuting a medley of songs from her new album Bionic.
The 2010 MTV Movie Awards winners are as follows:
Best Fight - Beyonce Knowles & Ali Larter (Obsessed)
Best Female Performance - Kristen Stewart (The Twilight Saga: New Moon)
Best Breakout Star - Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air)
Best Scared-As-S**t Performance - Amanda Seyfried (Jennifer's Body)
Best Kiss - Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga: New Moon)
MTV Generation Award - Sandra Bullock
Best Comedic Performance: Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover)
Global Superstar Winner: Robert Pattinson
Best WTF Moment - Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Best Movie Villain - Tom Felton (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)
Biggest Bada** Star - Rain (Ninja Assassin)
Best Male Performance - Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga: New Moon)
Best Movie: The Twilight Saga: New Moon.