Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says Iffy for 15+
Enormous scale and spectacle, but weak characters, story.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Cloud Atlas -- the Wachowskis' massive sci-fi epic that takes place over six time periods, with several actors (including Tom Hanks and Halle Berry) playing roles in each -- has strong fantasy violence, including bloody attacks and battles with both guns and blades. Main characters die, and one commits suicide. Language is strong, though sporadic, with several uses of both "f--k" and "s--t." There are a few sex scenes, with one female appearing topless. Many characters drink, a few smoke cigarettes, and two smoke pot. Like Avatar, the movie's sheer, overwhelming size, scale, and spectacle may appeal to many audiences, and teens will likely be clamoring to see it; whether they'll enjoy it is less clear.
- Families can talk about Cloud Atlas' violence. Does "fantasy" violence have a different impact than "realistic" violence? How does the violence contribute to the story in this movie?
- How does the movie portray sex/sexual relationships?
- If the movie's theme is "connections" and events resonating throughout time, what are some examples of this? Can you think of a way that this has happened in real life?
- Which character is the most admirable? Which story affected you the most?
The good stuff
Positive messages: Amid the sometimes convoluted storytelling, the film promotes the ideas that all things/people are connected and that love can transcend space and time. There are small examples of bravery and trying to help others throughout.
Positive role models: None of the film's many characters has enough screen time to achieve much depth or resonance. But a few of them are good and brave, and a few fairly strong female characters emerge. One character has a kind of "bad conscience" demon that tries to convince him to do selfish and/or cowardly things. At first he gives into the demon's commands, but eventually he learns to stand up for himself and do things for others. Some characters risk their lives for what they believe in.
What to watch for
Violence: Many of the main characters die, and many are shot or stabbed, with spurting blood. One dies in an airplane explosion. There are bloody attacks and battles with blades and guns, a few one-on-one fights, and threats; both children and adults die. A character commits suicide with a gun (put in mouth). A man throws another man from a high balcony. A bad guy shoots a dog (off screen). A little girl is shown to be fatally sick, with a poisoned, swollen foot.
Sexy stuff: At least one female character appears topless, and there are two sex scenes (it's questionable that the act is consensual in one), with no other nudity shown. There's some strong innuendo in one scene as a rude customer in a futuristic restaurant uses a squeeze bottle of mayonnaise and pretends to ejaculate on a waitress' back. There's a scene in which a man escapes his lover's bedroom, presumably after sex; they share a kiss. In another scene, sex is interrupted by a cat, and there's some innuendo around the term "p---y."
Language: Sporadic strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," "p---y," "hell," "ass," "damn," "goddamn," racial slurs like the "N" word and "wetback," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation).
Consumerism: Samsung phone is shown, but not prominently.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Many characters drink alcohol (ranging from beer to wine to harder drinks), mostly in a social way. Once or twice, characters overindulge in a comic way, but only briefly. In one segment, the main characters smoke some pot. Some characters smoke cigarettes in a background way. In a futuristic sement, a character is addicted to a drug known as "soap" and overdoses.