The Wachowskis don't do anything half-ass.
The Matrix was an absolute game-changer and while its two sequels ultimately fall short in a number of ways, I've always appreciated the willingness to dive in and play with some really big ideas. Their follow up, the visually dazzling Speed Racer, is an under-appreciated little gem that somehow pulls off a minor miracle by capturing the spirit of animation within reality; it is literally a real-life cartoon. In light of the incredibly poor reception of that film, it's little wonder that they've fallen out of the spotlight these last four years.
Now we've got an extended first look at their adaptation of David Mitchell's epic novel Cloud Atlas, and once again Andy and Lana Wachowski, along with co-director Tom Tykwer, seem to be swinging for the fences. (I'm embedding it below, but do yourself a favor and click through to Apple to watch it in glorious HD.)
The source material is extremely complex, weaving together six separate stories that span both continents and centuries, with each story being observed by characters in another time and place. Not only is there some impressive visual trickery being employed to link the different plots together, but each member of the more-than-impressive cast will portray multiple characters, often utilizing makeup, prosthetics and CG to make the actors all but unrecognizable. (That's Tom Hanks with the bald head and the chinstrap beard, and yes, at one point Halle Berry plays a white woman.)
Cloud Atlas will have its premiere at this year's Toronto Film Festival and it's one of the many reasons I wish I could find a way to go this year. While I've yet to read the novel, I've also yet to hear a bad word spoken about it. In fact, I have a general policy that when there's movie I want to see based on a book I haven't read, I won't read the book till later because I'd rather go into the movie blind. I just might have to rethink that policy here.
Mostly though, I'm just excited to see the Wachowskis back playing in a very big sandbox and really going for broke.