Mathematical proof of why Cloud Atlas is the Wachowski's second greatest film

Posted by Craig Grobler on Google+ On Friday, February 22, 2013

the wachowski's greatest filmsCloud Atlas is in cinemas today, I saw Tom TykwerLana Tom Wachowski's Cloud Atlas just over a week ago and still haven't quite got it out of my head. You can read my rather underwhelming review over here! It felt like I was watching a Spielberg movie back when he was making fantastical entertaining movies rather than the responsible historical epics he is currently making. It was like watching E.T.Always or Indiana Jones - a little forced but incredibly entertaining and heart warming.

However Cloud Atlas doesn't seem to be getting the credit it deserves; lower than expected Box Office returns, only 1 Golden Globe nomination and that was for Best Original Score (mindbogglingly Director  Tom Tykwer also wrote the score), it was ignored by BAFTA and the Academy Awards. At a bear minimum surely Tykwer's score should have got a nod and what about Best Adapted Screenplay? Although I haven't read it, it is generally accepted that David Mitchell's novel was unfilmable.

How many more times are we going to have to hear that with Ang Lee and the Wachowski's out there? I think I have reached the point where we I now understand the term "the book is unfilmable" to actually mean "it's too risky for a studio to commit to a decent adaptation" something that knee capped comic adaptations for years. The Guardian believes a large part of Cloud Atlas not fulfilling its potential lies at the door of Warner Bros for not fully getting behind the film more here!

I suspect that like many great films (and art) that are not initially accepted on release Cloud Atlas may connect with its audience in the years after its home release and viewers can immersive themselves in it at their own leisure and discover its treasure for themselves. There is some referential irony here - in Cloud Atlas a prophetic discussion covering a very similar topic takes place between publisher Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent) and disgruntled gangster cum Author Dermot Hoggins (Tom Hanks).
Timothy Cavendish: Never forget Herman Melville, writes a ripping yarn about a big white whale which is summarily dismissed, and yet today it is lugged around in the backpacks of every serious student of literature in the world.
Dermot Hoggins: I don't give a f*ck what happens when I'm dead, I want people to buy me book now!
So why am I bothering to put my thoughts to pixels for a film that isn't even in my Top 131 Greatest Films of all time list? Well, you see, I love film, especially films that think out of the box, address big ideas and big issues and have their heart in the right place and can entertain. Sometimes these films don't have to be good for me to love the concepts conveyed and I can't shake the feeling that if I was 15 years younger that my mind would have been completely blown away by Cloud Atlas and that it would have had the same impact on me as; Blade RunnerThe MatrixFight Club or Glory (Man I love that film) and make my visits into a dark cinema an unforgettable experience as someone's imagination sparks my own and we connect on a level that sometimes words or visuals cannot bridge and I would have left the cinema my mind ablaze with the endless possibilities of imagination and the magic of cinema. Without films like Cloud Atlas younger generations would miss out on inspirational big idea films as we are all slowly spoon fed less risky more formulaic and un-inventive dross that seems to make its way onto the screen more often these days.

So rather than try convince you that you should go see Cloud Atlas just because I enjoyed it and if it makes enough money I'll get to see more great films of its kind from the Wachowskis. And rather than create another incredibly ridiculous and baseless "Top 10" or "Best 10 list" of the kind that is constantly forced upon us by lazy people who seem to believe that just because they have access to the internet and sometime their opinion is insight. So I turned to Science and Mathematics to see what they could offer up to measure the greatness of the Wachowski's films. Below I revisit some of the Wachowski's most impactful big idea films that have challenged us and pushed the envelope as well as look at the numbers behind all the films they have had a hand in directing to see which should be unquestionabley considered the Wachowski's greatest films.

The sibling directorial pairing of Lana and Andy Wachowski teamed up with Tom Tykwer to create the powerful and inspiring epic Cloud Atlas, based on the best-selling novel by David Mitchell. To celebrate the film’s release on 22 February we are going to take a look at the Wachowski’s best work to date, including The Matrix and their no directorial feature - V for Vendetta. I have only used films that the Wachowski's have actually directed as the basis for this post and have excluded: V for Vendetta, Enter the Matrix Video Game, The Animatrix and their early Stallone starer Assassins.

    The Matrix

In 1999 the Wachowski’s brought us the ground-breaking and genre-defining Sci-fi film, The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving. The film blew audiences away with its ground-breaking introduction of a visual effect now known as ‘bullet time’, which allows a shot to progress in slow-motion while the camera appears to move through the scene at normal speed. The Wachowski’s both wrote and directed this visual masterpiece which grossed over $450 million at the worldwide box-office. The film spawned two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, bringing in a whopping $1.6 billion total box-office for the franchise.

Video: The Matrix - Official® Trailer [HD]

Show me the money*

The films the Wachowski's have directed have been made for £357,320,050 (£350 Million) and brought in £1,192,849,247 (over a Billion pounds) so far.

Wachowski film profits
The Wachowski's profitable films
Their most profitable film to date was the sequel to The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded which brought in £382,980,538. As of 20/02/2013 Cloud Atlas has returned £59,579,066 and not had it's full international release as yet. Their least profitable film to date has been: Speed Racer which lost them -£16,849,358.81.

Wachowski's film financials
The Wachowski's film financials
By comparison there is no surprise as to which of their films had the highest Box Office return: The Matrix Reloaded with £479,998,473.96. Whilst Cloud Atlas has brought in £73,475,792 (- 20/02/2013) so far, their lowest Box office return was from their directorial debut: Bound with £2,458,965.53

Wachowski's Box Office Takings
The Wachowski's Box Office Takings

In Conclusion
So the tale of the tape tells us that The Matrix Reloaded has been the Wachowski's most financially successful film so far and that even though Bound had the lowest Box Office takings, Speed Racer has been their least financially successful film. Bear in mind that Cloud Atlas has yet to open in many countries and theses figures do not include home release returns yet.

The Matrix Reloaded followed by The Matrix 

    The Matrix Reloaded

The Wachowski’s returned in May 2003 to bring audiences The Matrix Reloaded, the second instalment in The Matrix trilogy. In the second film Neo and the rebel leaders learn that they have only 72 hours before Zion is destroyed by 250,000 sentinel machines. Neo must try to save Zion while also saving Trinity from the dark fate which plagues his dreams. This second instalment in the franchise grossed a box-office of over $740 million worldwide.

Video: The Matrix Reloaded - Official® Trailer [HD]


The Ratings**

Interestingly user submitted rating on IMDB tell us a slightly different story to the box office returns with whilst The Matrix unsurprisingly leads the way with 8.7 out of 10.

Wachowski's the matrix imdb rating

Wachowski's cloud atlas imdb rating

Cloud Atlas comes in second with 7.8 followed by Bound with 7.4 before returning to The Matrix trilogy with 7.1 for The Matrix Reloaded.

Wachowski's speed racer imdb rating

The Wachowski's lowest IMDB rating is for Speed Racer with 6 out of 10 which is still decent for an IMDB rating and still sufficient to place Speed Racer within the top 5000 films on IMDB.  It should be noted that the rating for all the Wachowski's film are good and the comparisons below are relative to each other.

Wachowski's imdb ratings
The Wachowski's IMDB film scores

In editorial fairness I have included the Rotten Tomatoes ratings as well to give a fuller picture of how the viewing audience rate the Wachowski's films.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Tomatometer
Critics rated Bound the highest with 92% followed by The Matrix with 87%, third is The Matrix Reloaded - 73%, before Cloud Atlas coming in fourth with 65%, before dropping down to 39% for 
Speed Racer and finally Matrix Revolutions with 36%.

Wachowski's rotten tomatoes audience film scores

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Ratings
Whilst user submitted ratings tell us a slightly different story: Cloud Atlas leads the way with 95% (accurate on 20/02/2013 - I am aware that at the time of posting this the rating has dropped to 73%, placing it 3rd and by the time you read this this figure would have been altered even more. presumably  upwards after release in the UK today), second The Matrix with 81% and the subsequent sequels with Reloaded - 74% then Revolutions 1% lower at 70%, 11% further below Speed Racer at 61% and finally Bound with 49%. Bound's Audience rating is calculated by those that want to see the film rather than submitted ratings, presumably because of its early release date 1996 the fresh Rotten Tomatoes audience have not caught up yet.

In Conclusion
Critics loved Bound and The Matrix but didn't like Speed Racer and surprisingly Matrix Revolutions even less so.

The public (20/02/2013) loved Cloud Atlas coming in with a staggering 95% with The Matrix coming in second and Matrix Reloaded third. However audiences disliked Matrix Revolutions and Speed Racer even less. It is worth noting that the Wachowski's lowest scoring Speed Racer - 61% scored only 20% less liked than The Matrix- 81%.

Bound cannot be accurately added into the mix with the lowest rating of 49% of the audience wanting to see it.

IMDB loves The Matrix followed by Cloud Atlas
The Tomatometer loves Bound followed by The Matrix
Rotten Tomatoes Audience loves Cloud Atlas followed by The Matrix

    The Matrix Revolutions

The Matrix trilogy ended in November 2003 with the release of The Matrix Revolutions. The final film in the trilogy follows Neo as he fights to end the war between the machines and humans. Neo must finally defeat the rogue Agent Smith while the human city of Zion defends itself against invasion by the machines. The Matrix Revolutions made over $425 million at the box-office worldwide and provided audiences with an explosive ending to the franchise, packed with ground-breaking CGI and an epic one-on-one battle between Neo and Agent Smith.

Video: The Matrix Revolutions - Official® Trailer [HD]


Awards ***

So now we know which of the Wachowski films were financially successful and which are rated by audiences and critics - but what of the Academies and official awards bodies? Below I have used actual wins as the benchmark rather than nominations.

the wachowski's film awards

Well the ground breaking Matrix leads with 36 Nominations, 29 Award wins and 4 Oscars. Hard to beat. Surprisingly coming in second is Cloud Atlas with 16 nominations, including a Golden Globe nomination for Best Score and 8 Wins. Followed by Bound with 10 nominations and 6 wins.

On the other end of the scale The Matrix Reloaded was nominated 19 times and won 5 awards, The Matrix Revolutions had 18 nominations and only 1 win whilst Speed Racer had 8 nominations but no wins.

In Conclusion
The pioneering genre bending The Matrix leads the way and it would be hard to top 4 Oscar wins for  technical achievements:  Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Best Effects, Visual Effects, Best Film Editing and Best Sound but it is a real surprise that Cloud Atlas comes in second with 8 wins and 16 nominations  as well as a Golden Globe nomination for Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer's Best Original Score - Motion Picture.

The Matrix and Cloud Atlas

    V for Vendetta

The Wachowski’s wrote the 2006 thriller V for Vendetta, based on the comic book of the same name by Alan Moore and David Lloyd and starring Hugo Weaving, John Hurt and Natalie Portman and was directed by James McTeigue. The film followed a shadowy freedom-fighter known only as ‘V’ who uses terrorist tactics to bring down the totalitarian society in which he lives. Caught in between the government and ‘V’ is Evey (Portman), who must decide whose side she is on before the explosive finale.

Video: V For Vendetta - Official® Trailer 2 [HD]


Overall Winners

Using the 2 highest ranked films from each of the categories above I have scored the films of the Wachowski's to see which of their films should be considered their greatest. The answers were quite surprising.

the wachowski's greatest films
The Wachowski's Greatest Films

Lana and Andy Wachowski's greatest films in order are: 

1. The Matrix (5)
2. Cloud Atlas (3)
3. The Matrix Reloaded (1)
4. Bound (1)

This is currently the state of play and things could change I suspect that Cloud Atlas will move up the rankings but will not win 4 Oscars so its unlikely to overtake The Matrix. Hopefully this irrefutable evidence for a trip to the cinema to give Cloud Atlas a chance for yourself  is self evident. I enjoyed it and there should be enough in it for almost anyone with imagination and a heart to connect with in some way.

Cloud Atlas

The Wachowski’s latest release is the epic Cloud Atlas, based on the best-selling novel by David Mitchell and stars an award-winning cast including: Tom Hanks, Jim Broadbent, Ben Wishaw, Jim Sturgess, Hugh Grant, David Gyasi and Susan Surrandon. This powerful film is full of drama, mystery, action and enduring love, thread through a single story that unfolds in multiple timelines over the span of 500 years.  Characters meet and reunite from one life to the next. As the consequences of their actions and choices impact one another through the past, the present and the distant future, one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.


The Establishing Shot shall return soon with my Top 10 List of why to hate people who create baseless Top 10 lists - The End!
Cloud Atlas Poster
Cloud Atlas Poster
Cloud Atlas will be in UK Cinemas this Friday 22 February, 2013
From acclaimed filmmakers Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski comes the powerful and inspiring epic “Cloud Atlas,” based on the best-selling novel by David Mitchell.
Drama, mystery, action and enduring love thread through a single story that unfolds in multiple timelines over the span of 500 years.  Characters meet and reunite from one life to the next.  Born and reborn.

As the consequences of their actions and choices impact one another through the past, the present and the distant future, one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.
Everything is connected.

Tom Hanks
Halle Berry
Jim Broadbent
Hugo Weaving
Jim Sturgess
Doona Bae
Ben Whishaw
James D’Arcy
Xun Zhou
Keith David
David Gyasi
with Susan Sarandon
and Hugh Grant

* Financial figures come from Wiki who got most of them from Box Office Mojo and were accurate on 20/02/2013 
** All ratings are accurate on 20/02/2013 from their respective websites.
*** Awards information comes from IMDB


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