When I went to see "Cloud Atlas" at an AMC theater, the theater management informed me that they were no longer showing it on any screen that night. The new Twilight movie had just come out that weekend, so they literally shut down what they thought would be less profitable films to ensure enough screens for Twi-hards. I had really wanted to see Cloud Atlas, and had been excited every since I first viewed their 5 minute trailer. AMC gave us free movie passes for our trouble, which we used a bit later, for a different film.
Finally I got to see Cloud Atlas today, but from the comfort of my living room... and I must say, it's not a horrific loss that I missed this one in theaters.
Imagine if someone tried to cram all 6 seasons of Lost into a 3 hour movie... that's what Cloud Atlas felt like. Or better yet, if you were a Lost fan, imagine your watching one of their infamous recap episodes... imagine it's a 3 hour long recap... and you had never seen the episodes it was reviewing.
"Cloud Atlas" strings together 6 different story-lines without taking a breath in-between anything. These stories are of massive conflicts in the characters lives, some of which revolve around their deaths, and the whole thing is supposed to be a very emotional experience... but... it's hard to feel emotion for characters in plight who we are hurriedly introduced to... and then quickly see suffer.
Some of the characters stories are indeed moving... but more often than not I find myself asking "why do I care so much about this character?". Characters without any substantial background are hard to like, because they're hard to know. Between 6 interconnected but ultimately separate story-lines... we have an equal half hour a piece. It is possible to build up characters worth caring about in a half hour, as so many short films have managed to prove... but with all the characters swirling around (and re-swirling around) Cloud Atlas, it becomes an exhausting and tedious affair keeping up with them.
It became one of the only movies I've ever seen that I became annoyed that it was a movie... the whole time I kept thinking if they wanted to bring the story to the screen, why not a TV show? A miniseries? Multiple movies? We can have 5 movies about whether a girl dates a vampire or a werewolf (and shut down other films for them), but just one movie to thinly spread out 6 different stories about the plight of mankind? It's madness!
I plan to watch it again, because I think there's some good meat in this film and some good messages that can be taken away... but my initial reaction is that it wore me out- and not in the emotional roller-coaster way the creators obviously intended.
Also on a side note, they kind of failed hard at trying to make white people look Asian and the one Asian girl look Irish. It was on par with Sean Connery as James Bond disguised undercover in "You Only Live Twice"... who did he (or they) think they were fooling?
I bet it's still better than Twilight.