I would hope that writing a review of Cloud Atlas would be nowhere near as daunting of a task as actually making the movie, but I can't help feel like I wouldn't be able to do it justice by just typing a few words.
I will not even dare to make an attempt at describing the story as there are just too many moving pieces, so many different timelines, and a cast that includes the talents of Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, and Doona Bae. Each actor in the movie actually plays multiple roles as they represent a particular character at each point of time in the movie.
Andy and Lana Wachowski along with co writer and director Tom Tykwer all deserve praise for taking on such an amazingly complex story, but I also have to wonder what the heck they were thinking when they agreed to take on a movie most felt couldn't be made.
The overall feel of the intertwining stories is that we all have a place within the history of the world along with a certain amount of destiny to fulfill. During one lifetime, a person might write a series of love letters that will someday inspire another person to do good in the world who will then help to start a revolution as the souls of each person continue to cross paths over the course of time.
As the various stories unfold, you begin to see how they all are supposed to fit together and yet I never really felt the audience was given a chance to invest in any one of them. You are so busy keeping track of who is who in what timeline and what they represent to the world and each other that it all becomes muddled and any emotional impact ends up just getting lost in the shuffle. Each story on its own seems very compelling, but even with a nearly three hour running time, there just isn't enough space to bring any of them home.
Visually, the movie was beautifully shot with a very interesting mix of intimate moments that demand attention to detail and large-scale action that is more dependent on sweeping vistas and elaborate effects shots. While there are moments throughout that make you want to just freeze the frame so you can enjoy every detail, this also ends up adding to the clutter of too much going on. I also had some serious issues with how some of the characters' varying ethnicities were represented and some of the makeup effects that just didn't seem to work very well at all.
For anyone that chooses to see this movie, it will be a very personal experience. I'm not convinced either way whether I would encourage someone to see it or not. If you love watching movies and everything they have the ability to offer, you will appreciate Cloud Atlas on some level although you may still find it hard to enjoy the experience.