The ‘fanboys’ who got hooked on THE MATRIX Trilogy/’99;’03 stayed away in droves from this meta-physical mash-up. It’s a love-and-war-thru-the-ages saga, with multiple, rhyming story lines scrambled up mix-master fashion. The obvious reference points are D. W. Griffith’s INTOLERANCE/’16 and Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS/’27*, but Andy & Lana Wachowski, along with collaborator Tom Tykwer, cast a very wide net. The basic idea dumps Tom Hanks ‘out of the cradle, endlessly rocking’ and into six fables that span the ages (but who’s counting?), hiding him in plain sight behind make-up, prosthetics & funny accents, likely discards from Tim Conway’s wardrobe on the old Carol Burnett Show. The big, big cast all chime in, playing recognizably in a main role, then heavily-disguised for cameos. (Susan Sarandon gets the best nose, a real whopper.) The hop, skip & jump narrative lines in the first half are pretty much impossible to navigate without a scorecard or multiple viewings (for the masochist crowd), all as joyless, crude & indecipherable as the Second & Third parts of THE MATRIX. Those who hang in here are rewarded with a visual fugue of cross-cutting ride-to-the-rescue finales (truly right out of INTOLERANCE), fun in a corny sort of way whether comic, tragic, sacrificial or heroic. But no amount of CGI can camouflage the lousy action staging or give Jim Sturges the Martial Arts grace Keanu Reeves mustered up to sell this stuff back in his MATRIX days.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT/SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Might as well take the bait and grab INTOLERANCE (a superb new Blu-Ray from Cohen Media will hopefully show on DVD) and the much discussed, ‘truly complete’ METROPOLIS, out on KINO. Both run a bit shy of 3 hours . . . just like CLOUD ATLAS. Both were major flops in their day . . . just like CLOUD ATLAS. Both found their reps steadily growing to classic status over the decades . . . just like . . . er . .