Weekend Forecast for October 26-28, 2012
By Reagen Sulewski
October 26, 2012
While there's no expected heavy hitters for this last weekend of October at the box office, one of the more intriguing mainstream films of the year arrives in theaters after a high profile campaign that has it hunting Oscars. The rest of the weekend's slate of four new movies has a bit of a potpourri feel to it, with studios clearing out inventory before the Holiday season starts.
Whatever you might think of it in the end, Cloud Atlas is surely one of the more ambitious movies of the year. Adapted by the Wachowski Siblings and Tom Tykwer from a sprawling, episodic novel of the same name, it's a story of interconnectedness across centuries and six time periods. Each succeeding story carries on the previous one in some fashion, with what may or may not be the same actual characters reincarnating in each time period meeting up again and again. It's nothing much smaller than the story of humanity and society, and promises to be challenging, infuriating and rewarding, perhaps all the same time.
This isn't the most commercial of all stories to tell, sort of part The Tree of Life, part 2001, part Robert Altman, but it's undoubtedly a film with something to say, and that can definitely bring in audiences looking for a fix of “seriousness”. Helping things along is a star-studded cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess and others, although that's a group that's a lot better on paper than in recent results. Hanks in particular is riding on a reputation that hasn't born itself out well in non-animated or franchise films of late. Last year was a particularly bad year for him, as both Larry Crowne and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close were unqualified bombs (despite the latter snagging an Oscar nomination). The rest of that cast is decently known but generally has been unable to open a film without some larger appeal to it.
Which brings us to the directors. The post-Matrix era hasn't been kind to the Wachowskis, with 2008's Speed Racer alienating many (though it remains a watchable failure). V For Vendetta, which they adapted and produced but didn't direct, was a minor hit, but was well short of any of the Matrix movies. I suspect that most people who think about them think more of the poorly received Matrix sequels than the original Matrix movie, which nearly defined a decade of action films. Tom Tykwer made a big splash in the same year with Run Lola Run, which heralded him as a potential director of Big Things, but he's since faded back into the indie world. Unless you're one of the few who saw The International, this may be the first time you've heard his name since then.
With all these caveats, Cloud Atlas still has the feel of an Important Film, and even if the reviews aren't all that spectacular for it (notable exception, Roger Ebert's 4-star rave), it's the sort of accessible indie film that can bring in higher-minded crowds. It should be the highest grossing of the new films this week with around $14 million.