Atlas Review: Feels Like a Sci-Fi Movie You’ve Already Seen

With filmmakers churning out science fiction cinema more frequently than ever, it has become relatively rare to find a good sci-fi flick that offers something the viewers aren’t already familiar with — and Jennifer Lopez’s latest Netflix original “Atlas” is a living testament to it. Makers nowadays have become so obsessed with the idea of duplicating the success of blockbuster franchises of the genre like Star Wars that they seem to have forgotten the key ingredients of a good film, which should resonate with the viewers instead of being just a compilation of high-tech scenes with overused dialogues. In Lopez’s Atlas, you’ll find similar flaws — unimaginative concept, high predictability, and superficial portrayal of beaten themes.

Atlas Review: Another one about AI

Jennifer Lopez plays an analyst in the movie

The film introduces us to the world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) terrorist, Harlan, who has corrupted AI bots globally and convinced them to destroy humanity. As the dance of death goes on for days and humanity retaliates, he leaves the planet with a promise to return someday and finish what he started.

Cut to 25 years later, the world now has a special organisation called “International Coalition of Nations” (ICN) to combat AI terrorists. When it catches Casca, one of Harlan’s confidantes who left along with him, ICN decides to seek help from Lopez’s data analyst, Atlas Shepherd, who shared her childhood with these two tech monsters, making her the last hope of saving humanity.

However, Shehphers is no ordinary analyst; She is moody, loud, rigid, sarcastic, anti-social, emotionally scared, lives off quad americano, and doesn’t trust AI even a bit — even though her house is full of AI technology. Shepherd has spent her entire life speculating a bit about Harlan, and when the opportunity comes at her door knocking, she is no need to take it easy. Despite the ICN’s numerous protests — since she doesn’t have the physical training needed to face the challenge that outer space might throw her way — she argues to be sent alongside the special unit to the plant where Harlan is hiding.

Atlas Review: Where it loses fizz

A still from Netflix’s latest sci-fi Atlas

Although Atlas starts on a strong note, it soon loses all its fizz with shallow writing and Lopez’s loud acting. Instead of the high IQ analyst she is supposed to be, Lopez’s character comes off as a raging teenager perpetually throwing tantrums. The movie can hardly establish her as a mysterious personality and an emotional baggage. Lopez is unconvincing in the role and lacks the kind of sincerity that such a character demands.

While the film claims that she has been in immense emotional pain for decades, the portrayal falls flat. It barely touches the complex layers of emotional erraticity that Lopez’s character holds and thrives on superficiality. Given that the entire film focuses on Lopez and her inner turmoil, with no regard for anything happening outside this premise, the work seems criminally undercooked.

However, irrespective of a disorganised and kiddish portrayal, I enjoyed the occasional respite that came in the form of a special AI bot suit character, voiced by Gregory James Cohan, who is the polar opposite of Shepherd. This super adaptive suit is poised, calm, and patient. It believes that all AI bots, including himself, are alive and that all things with consciousness have a soul. He balances the erraticity that Shepherd brings to the table, making their paring perfect. The simplicity with which he addresses Shepherd’s problems will make one crave such a suit.

Sadly, Cohan’s character isn’t enough to carry the weight of the film alone. Atlas is a big no for ardent sci-fi fans or someone looking for a movie with advanced CGI or complex.

If you wish to explore a more serious take on the complex relationship that AI and humanity might share, Joaquin Phoenix‘s Her still tops the charts even after a decade of its release.

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