Atlas Lacks Imagination But Has One Bright Spot

Atlas still of Atlas (Jennifer Lopez). Courtesy of Netflix.

It’s tragic and hilarious that the character who is only a voice runs rings around the rest of the cast in Atlas

Atlas is like a lesser version of Aliens meets I, Robot. Jennifer Lopez’s (HustlerOut of Sight) character, Atlas, faces off against the human-like robot that caused a massacre and his various AI-adorned minions. It feels like two films where the first half is shoddy dialogue with constant attempts at pained expressions by Jennifer Lopez. The latter contains comical banter as the A.I. program Smith (Gregory James Cohan, VelociPastor) and Lopez develop chemistry throughout the rest of the film. Inarguably, Smith is the highlight of Atlas, creating humorous moments, but there is too much that feels hollow or a knock-off of more impressive pictures.  

Directed by Brad Peyton (RampageSan Andreas) and written by Leo Sardarian (StartUp) and Aron Eli Coleite (The Spiderwick ChroniclesLocke & Key)Atlas‘s mostly horrendous dialogue raises questions about the script. However, let’s delve into the plot. The film follows Atlas, an analyst in a bleak world of robots and A.I. She must fight to stop her mother, Val’s (Lana Parrilla, The Lincoln LawyerOnce Upon a Time), robot creation, Harlan (Simu Liu, BarbieSimulant), from destroying humanity. 

Dialogue in Atlas is Atrocious

Atlas still of Colonel Banks, played by Sterling K. Brown, holding a big weapon.
Sterling K. Brown as Colonel Banks in Atlas. Photo credit: Ana Carballosa/Netflix. Courtesy of Netflix.

The dialogue is flat. In addition, the dialogue and its execution feel clunky. Mark Strong (1917Zero Dark Thirty) as General Boothe executes his dull dialogue as best he can. Meanwhile, Simu Liu’s wooden delivery feels like he gave up before the director shouted, “Action.” Jennifer Lopez emotes grief as best she can, but given the dialogue, it’s understandable. Sterling K. Brown struggles as well. Although out of this quartet, his style of delivery works the best. 

The conversations only shine when a determined Smith converses with Atlas, needling her to discover why she distrusts A.I. To catch Harlan, whose base is on a planet that humans cannot survive, they gear up in ARCs. It’s a mecha robot with a person in the cockpit. However, to utilize all the robots’ potential, humans must sync with them via a neural link. Therein lies the problem for Atlas. Their banter is hilarious as Smith whittles down her defenses. As he learns from her mind, he becomes more human despite being nothing more than a standard-issue voice for a computer program. In the movie, their camaraderie sings thanks to Gregory James Cohan’s delivery. 

It Feels Like a Lesser Merger of Two Movies

Atlas still of Harlan, played by Simu Liu, standing in front of a robot.
Simu Liu as Harlan in Atlas. Photo credit Ana Carballosa/Netflix. Courtesy of Netflix.

If this were an anime, it’d have a better chance of getting away with some cliched, airball conversations. On top of that, the similarities between films like Aliens and I, Robot do Atlas no favors. As Atlas, at the behest of Colonial Elias Banks, played by Sterling K. Brown (American FictionHotel Artemis), explains the dangers in store, it’s a challenge not to laugh for all the wrong reasons. As the crew heckles her, their conversation drowns out as Ripley’s “I hope you’re right. I really do” from Aliens replaces them. So, its similarities harm the film.

As I mentioned, it’s similar to I, Robot. So, it’s easy to guess Harlan’s motivation. He’s Thanos without a sliver of depth. Harlan is one of the dullest, most unimpressive, standard-issue villains. It’s tragic and hilarious that the character who is only a voice runs rings around the rest of the cast in Atlas

Every Bad Movie Needs a Smith

I don’t know if Smith’s character does enough to save Atlas. But I’d rewatch it. Although, I’d probably skip the movie’s beginning or read a book until Smith’s voice rings out on screen. Plus, Lopez is not a bad actress, and neither is the rest of the cast, as evidenced by their respective previous films. However, working with special effects and CGI at this level left her unable to connect to her character or story. 

Dramatic action scenes that focus on her feel flat. One word to sum up: Atlas is lackluster. Aside from the A.I. Smith, which brings to mind The MatrixAtlas falls short on dialogue and action, and CGI looks incomplete. So, it’s only a watch for the scenes with Smith, but you might endure the rest.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

DarkSkyLady Reviews