After bombing spectacularly in America it's clear that no one on this side of the pond knows what the hell to do with Cloud Atlas. It's been pushed back several times and its release has barely been pushed into public consciousness so it's highly unlikely to make any money here, either. Still, after four years in development hell that involved budgets being withdrawn and the project being put on ice numerous times, Cloud Atlas was always going to be something of a punt.
Based on the 2004 novel of the same name by David Mitchell (not the one from Peep Show), the 171 minute drama follows six different storylines across six different eras with the cast taking on numerous roles with varying success. I know movie make-up is capable of achieving most things but transforming an Asian white, a mixed-race Africa-American into a blonde, white woman, and several Caucasian actors in Chinese is not only utterly distracting (Why does everyone have a massive nose?) but unnecessary in most cases.
That aside, the decision to mix the stories was a good one as the pace is so swift that for the most part the 3 hour running time flies by and there's always another set piece around the corner. Cloud Atlas has had the kind of polarising effect on critics and audiences that only something quite original and ambitious could have and to be honest, I'm not even sure if I like it or not. But having said that, I was never bored, and even though it'll never reach the audience it deserves, Cloud Atlas should be praised for its bravery in tackling so many stories, characters and eras with impressive technical production that believably creates not one, but six other worlds. Just bring a snack.