The Wachowskis join forces with Tom Tykwer and overhaul the meaning of the word Epic! Kudos to all the filmmakers for adapting this famously "unfilmable" novel in such an inventive way. There are SIX separate timelines that switch after every scene, but instead of the plot, the narrative continuity follows the theme of the film. Once you clue in to that overall theme, it is no longer confusing when the story jumps from a runaway slave in the 1800s to a post apocalyptic future battle between some of the last humans remaining on earth.
All this audacious style and structure makes Cloud Atlas a curiosity to say the least, but the film is lifted to the realm of "Masterpiece" by the all-star ensemble cast. This impressive collection of actors fires off amazing performances like the Expendables 2 fires off high caliber bullets. I mean this will long be considered one of the greatest acting clinics ever filmed, and a high point in some already outstanding careers, as the end credits alone are astonishing to watch.
Overall this is a movie that transcends the simple elements of stars and plots and special effects, and boldly assumes to take the cinema to another level of storytelling, much like Avatar took film to a new level of technology a few years ago. The ambition, the technical brilliance and the passion that was put into this film makes it one of the great epics of our time.