Actors (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent) take on multiple roles in an epic that spans five centuries. An attorney harbors a fleeing slave on a voyage from the Pacific Islands in 1849; a poor composer in pre-World War II Britain struggles to finish his magnum opus before a past act catches up with him; a genetically engineered worker in 2144 feels the forbidden stirring of human consciousness — and so on. As souls are born and reborn, they renew their bonds to one another throughout time.
"The way the tales link up isn’t labored or obvious. It’s more like a stone skipping with surprising precision across the water, or a player moving from one video game level to the next."
"An intense three-hour mental workout rewarded with a big emotional payoff, “Cloud Atlas” suggests that all human experience is connected in the pursuit of freedom, art and love. As inventive narratives go, there’s outside the box, and then there’s pioneering another dimension entirely, and this massive, independently financed collaboration among Tom Tykwer and Wachowski siblings Lana and Andy courageously attempts the latter, interlacing six seemingly unrelated stories in such a way that parallels erupt like cherry bombs in the imagination."
"But what a spectacle. The cinematography is gorgeous, the editing artful and the production design impeccable. Each cast member is transformed into several disparate characters."