ok so! Cloud Atlas the movie is a mixed bag, i think.
i went with one friend who had read the book and one who had not. my friend who had read the book found it fairly easy to follow, the one who had not, did not.
the movie makes hash of the book’s already-unconventional turducken storytelling style. rather than having only 11 jumps between major characters’ stories, it has bazillions. which i think is rather brave of the filmmakers, and an interesting choice. it works ok for sure if you’ve read the book.
the other choice the filmmakers made–to have the cast take on myriad different roles–doesn’t work so well for me. for one, i don’t get the point of it (this does not exist in the book, so the movie has to make its point clear without recourse to it, and it doesn’t). some folks have cried foul over using white actors to portray asians, and that’s a legitimate point, particularly as the makeup is done soooo badly that it’s not as if they even look asian.
others have said that the movie portrays all asians in stereotypical ways, but this criticism i think is unfair. i think they went quite far out of their way to show that the dystopian future of Sonmi-451 includes everybody, regardless of race. the actors one could see in this part of the movie were clearly of nearly every racial composition one could concoct–there was even a black guy in fake-asian makeup.
for me, the one thing about the movie that makes me not in love with it (besides the shitty makeup), though, was its dumbing-down of the book’s complex themes, and the added hollywood candy. it’s not a total axe job–some of mitchell’s philosophy comes through–but ya, they indulged in hollywood’s worst vice.
but! i will say that despite it being a loooong movie, nobody in the packed theater got up and left. they seemed quite rapt throughout, and applauded at the end. when the credits started to roll of course people got up to leave, but the credits included a little playbook at the end of who played which parts, and people actually stopped in their tracks and watched that.
so, mixed bag. but if i were you, i’d still read the book before you see the movie.