Book vs. Movie - don't even try it!
Reading the book first makes you quite biased about the motivations and the directions taken by the movie, until the ending wraps it all up.
Hard core readers might nag about some choices but, come on, to unravel the six stories in their entirety it would require an 11 hours show and this ain't Lord of the Rings.
As a movie it got its own reasons, they kinda make sense, this thing has to walk on its own two legs. They had to shorten some things, some choices were quite interesting (specially in Frobisher's story) to reach the same effect of rise and fall of the characters.
Supreme humiliation could not be avoided and had to be rushed through other means.
No movie should be like the book. No movie should require for the audience to read the book before you watch it.
So unplug from the book when you watch it and take it for somebody else's take on that same story because it's a whole different thing: meaning, intentions, all gone.
This movie is about connection, depending on others and the repetitions of meetings.
I also find this which is quite nice.
Choice justification good vs bad
The main problem I found in the script is that it does not justify certain choices and so certain things looked convenient (what? No security?), some line where delivered in a cheesy way (the ones over the montages sounded like explanations of what you had just watched) and overtook the plot because they were the only things that stood out clearly made sense in something that is definitely very fragmented.
Some important details were left behind too quickly, audiences need visual reiteration (like imbibing soap) other dismissed too quickly (Sonmi ascending).
The new element injected and reincorporated in other stories I did not mind. I did not mind for characters' change of age and race through make up (although suggesting that every purebreed in New Seoul was facesculped might have helped digest these freakish looking Neo Koreans) it was the least one could do to state that soul have no race and it's the most universal and least racist thing I've seen in movies in ages.
But I do think that purebreed becoming pureblood is the one thing that did not sit in with this ethnic problem.
The fact one is bred "pure" would make me think about genetically engineered towards perfection futuristic Neo-Koreans.
Old Georgie's make up did not work for the masses (muddy green=zombie, not devil! - Green has to go wicked to feel devilish).
Transition wise it wasn't very consistent and that's why people got lost in trying to find connections betweent the story (btw it's different in the movie than in the book but in the movie was right in the audience's face all the time: the birthmark), they've only shown the matrioska connection twice the rest was linked through words.
Sometimes it was too short: Ewing's book under Frobisher's bed should have been picked up.
Cavendish reading Louisa's book stay on screen for 90 frames only.
At least for Somni they overlapped the Cavendish movie with Cavendish's reality and repeated his line 4 times.
Frobisher-Sixsmith-LouisaRey was clearer.
Zachary and Sonmi could have been longer too.
I liked how Zachary found Ewing's button and used it as a pendant.
I don't think the directors should have relied so much on words, it required a level of attention that a society of images does not have. Some things should have been shown and shown better, longer and often.
Other than that I enjoyed the words-to-visual transitions and the editing enormously, the last time I saw something like that was in Love Actually (and nobody there questioned the connection between the stories, I wonder why?), of course this one was more refined and made me go "oooh brilliant!" a couple of times.
All I am saying is that here and there it needed more consistency.
Overall I consider it to be a great experiment, good effort but only the beginning of it (meaning they should have pushed it more, I feel it's only 70% accomplished and it should have taken longer in the making).
The miniplot felt disjointed within the same story, in an attempt to make them all feel like ONE big story connected through words - which only worked (wonderfully) about 60% of the times. I bet some people felt like grandpa was crazy zapping through six different movies.
And even though I felt emotionally disconnected from everything on screen up until the very end I don't know why the ending made me tear up a little - which I never ever do - must have been the soundtrack.
So the story seem scattered.
The book gives the same feeling of "hard to enter the story and settle" until it's too late for you to get out.
The movie is also goody-two-shoes compared to the book, positive, upbeat, geared towards the love story.
The voice over the minimontage, as I said, at times feel a bit patronizing. They would have been more efficient if they had picked less sentences from the book to work with, repeat them more than once, in different circumstanced and applying different meaning to them according to the circumstances... until the sentence reaches its final meaning having finally ascended.
Theme brought forth: meeting again, a threat to society might one day be the foundation of the next society and we are all connected in the great scheme of things.
A would have liked to see the great Cloud Atlas theme instead, the social ladder and the predatorial nature of men which here has actually become instead a constant fight with temptations and inner demons as everything is a trickery from Old Georgie (the first introduced THROUGH WORDS again by Zachary at the very beginning of the movie).
Mr Ewing... before you spit out your line which is the last one in the entire book... please take a freaking pause... then deliver! What the heck! It was so rushed!
The structure worked as a Frame here.
We begin from the end of each story, all the characters are introduced one by one, in a round, and then it felt as if every section should have a chapter header: meeting the devil, the trickery, the bridge, the escape, ascension, final revelation, disobedience and final stand.
I did enjoy the visual repetition and composition of the shot, very subliminal though.
Cavendish peeping from the doorframe, like Sonmi was the cutest.
Calls for a rewatch :D but I did find it quite nice and aaaaalmost there!
Criticism by other
I found most of the criticism move to this movie so lost and scattered.
I cannot believe most people can't quite tell what ungratified them and start pointing at useless details... it's like... you show them the map of Europe and they see Poggibonsi before they even read Tucany, Italy or Europe.
No, it's not the connection between the stories that pissed you off.
No, it's not the racism.
I'll tell you what it was: lack of information.
Zachary mentions Old Georgie yet he never addresses the green zombie guy with that name.
Cavendish never does register to Aurora Home for the elderly mistaking it for Hotel, he only tells us he does.
Louisa Rey never clearly mention what her investigation is all about.
As for Somni we never know how she ascended, why she was chosen and why was Yoona so different to begin with.
Try and put the stories together in chronological order (somebody on the web will most definitely do it) and you'll see that the ones who make more sense are Frobisher's and Ewing's.
They are the only ones who state their goal and therefore help us determine the nature of the conflict, they are also the only ones who cannot make a stand for themselves.
Did you notice?