These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Acceptable Targets: A majority of the film's villains include racists, homophobes, corrupt executives and politicians and cannibalistic savages.
Award Snub: It was completely ignored by the Academy. Many thought it should have at least been nominated for Make-Up, given how all the actors are transformed, or Editing for the way they cut back and forth between different stories. The score was also highly acclaimed, some even going so far to say Atlas had the best soundtrack of the year.
Complete Monster: BillSmoke from the Lusia Rey story shows zero regret or empathy as he ruthlessly and methodically kills a good amount of the cast in that segment ranging from "suicides" to even blowing up a plane with innocent people on board just to get his target. He also shows himself to be a nasty bigot as well, outright calling an innocent Mexican woman a "fucking wetback" and shooting her dog right in front of her.
Double Standard: People who criticize the Yellow Face aspect of the movie rarely even mention the fact that non-white actors change their race too.
Or that all of the Polynesian characters are played by African or African American actors (perhaps to make the slavery parallels more apparent)
He Really Can Act: Some people feel that Hugh Grant plays the same character over and over again in some of the movies he's in. There's a very good chance that those same exact folks are also utterly shocked to see him play the cannibal in the post-apocalyptic segment. Even Grant admitted he was having a lot fun playing the roles he did.
It Gets Better: Though the first twenty minutes or so of the film are hard to follow, it becomes easier to comprehend the non-linear stories after you get to know all of the protagonists.
LGBT Fanbase: The relationship between Frobisher and Sixsmith. For example, type in Cloud Atlas on tumblr and about half of the results will be those two.
Special Effect Failure: In spite of some very good instances of makeup, the attempts to change the races of several actors runs straight into Uncanny Valley and is highly distracting. There's some amount of contention between critics whether it was intentional or not.
Rewatch Bonus: The film is loaded with little touches and Foreshadowing you'll probably miss on the first go around. On top of that, some viewers found themselves having different opinions after watching it second time. Mark Kermode outright called the film a failure (albeit an honorable one) on his first viewing but on his second viewing, he found a new appreciation for it.
Technology Marches On: Averted for Meronym, as she is mostly dependent on the exact same technology as Sonmi~451's era, some 175 years prior, such as the floating half-silvered video screens and the Mauna Sol broadcast facility. Inverted entirely for Village folk and Kona, who don't have a shred of anything beyond the stone age, aside from a single book, and crossbows.
Uncanny Valley: Some of the attempts to change the actors' race end up looking extremely creepy.
Vindicated by History: When the film came out, many critics were polarized as to what to think of the split 6-story-line arc, the strange make-up work, and the borderline New Age-esque philosophy of the film. As the years pass, it seems like the movie has done nothing but gain ground in its stature, being viewed as a masterpiece. Many critics that disliked it on its first viewing watched it again, saw the rewards of multiple viewings, and changed their mind. It's still a slow process for this film, though, with some people still finding it stilted and pretentious.
Both 'future' segments, but especially Sonmi~451's.
Some of the the makeup effects are amazing. While part of the point of re-using actors is for the audience to notice that the same people keep popping up in various incarnations throughout time, the makeup can make it difficult to tell who plays whom at times. Unfortunately, the Special Effect Failure of some makeup takes a lot away from the overall achievement.
All what Adam wants is to go back home to his wife, but is sadly under attack from a nasty parasite and the Deadly Doctor who is trying to kill him.
Rufus Sixsmith. In the 1936 story, not only is he an active participant in a same-sex relationship (no doubt very much taboo at the time) with Frobisher, but he has to deal with his lover somewhat stringing him along at various times. And yet he stays very much loyal to Frobisher up through the point where he arrives to visit him, only to find he has just committed suicide. Then in the 1973 story, still very much haunted by his old love, he provides Luisa Rey with an expose on the corruption at the nuclear power plant where he works. He then promptly is assassinated by a hit man hired by the plant.
Timothy Cavendish get abused by gangsters, his older brother and a sadistic nursing home but because his tale is Played for Laughs, he falls between this and a Butt Monkey.
Sonmi~451 was birthed right from the get go to be a simple servant and nothing more. She witnesses multiple deaths of friends, is on the receiving end of sexual abuse during her previous life at Papa Song's, is imprisoned and interrogated by the Government and by the end, gets executed for her troubles. However, due to her perseverance through her tale, she evolves from this to an Iron Woobie.
Zachry is constantly haunted by the death of his brother-in-law, his visions of Old Georgie and the ruthless Kona Tribe. And when he sees the devastation of his tribe at the hands of the Kona, especially Rose, all he can do is fall to his knees and weep.
Genius Bonus: The name of the music piece Robert Frobisher creates is called the Cloud Atlas Sextet. A sextet, according to The Other Wiki is "a formation containing exactly six members. It is commonly associated with vocal or musical instrument groups, but can be applied to any situation where six similar or related objects are considered a single unit." The novel is told through the Point of View of six different people.