**** stars
Opens Friday

My best friend from childhood, a ravenous science fiction reader, has been bugging me for several years to pick up David Mitchell’s 2004 novel Cloud Atlas. Since my friend once read every Hugo Award winning novel ever written (in a single year, on a dare), I try to pay attention to his recommendations. But I never got around to it.

I wish I had. Cloud Atlas has been adapted into a fierce, visionary and deliciously baffling sci-fi epic from co-directors Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix). For fans of speculative fiction — the polite term for science fiction that dares to take itself seriously — it’s the must-see film of the year.

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