Love this movie very much, watched it twice in the cinema. Definitely in my top 3 fav movies of all time.
The first time I watched, I actually fell asleep halfway (not because it was too boring but because I was way too tired that particular day), and even then, I loved the movie very much! And thus went back to watch a second round. There were several critics who totally misunderstood the point, they criticised the movie for not explaining anything. In my opinion, the movie was not trying to explain anything. Same goes for that other great movie, Prometheus, which got criticised for the exact same reason. Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean the movie is bad or in the first place, why not question yourself whether the movie was even trying to answer anything? Or were you, the audience, just ingrained to find an explanation in everything. What I feel is that the movie re-introduces to us what it’s like to be wowed by movie magic and the imagination that is lacking in a lot of films nowadays, resulting in films looking all alike, of a single mould.
What great movies should do is the same as a great teacher; not to give you all the answers but to raise questions that lead you to the answers on your own. Thus, critics who want all the answers gave so much negative reviews and it was definitely snubbed by the Oscars.
Even the great movie critic Roger Ebert, gave full stars for the movie, 4/4 and argued it was definitely one of the best movies in 2012, with so many critics missing the point. http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/cloud-atlas-2012
I don’t think the movie was underwhelming, it was perfect in my opinion, gave you everything you needed to know. If you want an example of a similar movie where the same actor play different character, you can watch ‘The Fountain’ starring Hugh Jackman. It has a smiliar premise, but this was a movie that really was everywhere. If done right, it might have been another success like Cloud Atlas but it was too badly edited.