The big Cloud Atlas is comprised of six little stories that span the ages (1849 to 2144) and the universe (five take place on Earth), with the same actors playing parts in each, all just to proclaim that we're interconnected through time, and that one person can make a difference. Those notions (I hesitate to call them "ideas"), however true they might be, sound hokey when you say them, and even hokier when you say them over and over.
Helmed by the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), and adapted from David Mitchell's novel, Cloud Atlas moves gracefully back and forth between its fanciful shortened stories, so you'll have to pay attention, at least until you get acclimated (give it 30 minutes). Then, just relax and enjoy its often violent and occasionally uplifting tales of racism, sexism, homophobia and corporate murder, from America's slave past to an interplanetary post-racial future.
The cast (unrecognizable at times) includes Tom Hanks, Ben Whishaw, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, and a less-dull-than-usual Halle Berry. It's entertaining if you're inclined to think so, it's not if you're not, and if you want to meditate on its narrative connections, then knock yourself out. But despite its often weighty subject matter, it isn't worth an argument.