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YMMV / Cloud Atlas

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The movie:

  • Acceptable Targets: A majority of the film's villains include racists, homophobes, corrupt executives and politicians, and cannibalistic savages.
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: A three hour movie that combines six different plots is already a hard sell. Add the Yellow Face controversy, and the film subsequently lost money.
  • 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.
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  • Awesome Music: It wold be easy to say all of it, but special mention must be made to the film's final track, "Cloud Atlas End Title".
  • Complete Monster: Bill Smoke, from the Luisa Rey story, is a psychotic hitman who shows little regret for anything he does. Hired by Lloyd Hooks to kill anyone who knows about his company's nuclear reactor conspiracy, Smoke sets out to murder anybody who gets in his way. He kills a much older Rufus Sixsmith and makes it look like a suicide, and almost kills an unaware Luisa, backing off when she ends up not discovering him. When a man named Isaac Sachs gives Luisa a copy of the nuclear report Sixsmith tried to give her, Smoke kills Sachs by blowing up the plane he's in, along with the people inside it, later attempting to murder Luisa by running her car off a bridge. After discovering that Luisa survived the crash, he tries to murder her again, along with her partner, Joe Napier. Before his death, Smoke shoots an innocent Mexican woman's dog and calls her a "stupid fucking wetback" for not telling him where Luisa and Joe are.
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  • Cult Classic: The film appears to be heading this way, judging how it debuted at number one the week it was released on video and the more positive reactions that come from audiences than critics.
  • Director Displacement: Tom Tykwer's involvement doesn't get as much discussion as the Wachowskis'.
  • 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 of fun playing the roles he did.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Timothy talks about Herman Melville and Moby-Dick in the beginning of his story. Fast-forward to 2015, In the Heart of the Sea stars Ben Whishaw as Herman Melville.
    • The Kona are a tribe of all-male lawless marauders in a post-apocalyptic future who notably wear war paint that makes their faces resemble skulls. Are we talking about the cannibal tribes of Hawaii or the War Boys?
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    • The story revolves around six characters in different time periods, with separate story arcs in a single shared timeline and share a star-shaped birthmark. Sound familiar to any anime fans?
  • 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.
  • Narm:
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: It doesn't take long to figure out that any character in the film Hugo Weaving portrays is a Bad Guy, from the father-in-law that has no problem engaging in the slave trade, to the professional assassin, to even a Witch Doctor version of the devil himself. And then there's the Battleaxe Nurse.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: The film will probably be remembered more for the controversy over the decision to have white actors appear in Yellow Face than for its story.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: 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.
  • 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 over whether it was intentional or not.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Partially, anyway. It's discussed in the film; one of the many protagonists notes that once you stop trying to make sense of things and learn to roll with them, you can figure out what's going on.
  • Uncanny Valley: Some of the attempts to change the actors' race end up looking extremely creepy.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • Both 'future' segments, but especially Sonmi~451's.
    • Some of 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.
  • The Woobie: A multitude of them.
    • 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 is then promptly assassinated by a hit man hired by the plant.
    • Timothy Cavendish gets 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.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Fans of the movie felt this way about the potential of a Frobisher-Sixsmith reunion.

The Book:

  • 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.


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