movie reviews


No, you don't need to watch it to see how bad it is, just please don't watch.

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Do you ever watch an interview with a writer or director where they talk about how the story of their movie needed to be told? Yeah, well you'll never hear someone speak that way about Atlas. This movie sucks. I can't be bothered coming up with a clever intro or witty way to get started here because this epitome of background viewing inspires nothing except for its viewers to find the nearest cliff and jump.

Unless it's secretly an existential experiment to force its viewers to come to terms with the fact that they are mortal and they are spending 2 hours of that mortality watching utter garbage, then Atlas fails in almost every way imaginable. It's a sci-fi film trying to capitalise on the buzzword of 2023 and 2024, that being AI. Actually, instead of a sci-fi, it's a poorly disguised action thriller as the AI are just normal people who act as super terrorists. Some time in the future, one AI known as Harman (Simu Liu with hilariously bad blue contacts) becomes the first AI terrorist, going rogue and trying to wipe out humanity after freeing his buddies. He's then defeated and escapes to space.

28 years later, we meet Atlas Shepherd (Jennifer Lopez) a woman who knows Harman better than anyone and apparently can't sustain a relationship even though she looks like Jennifer Lopez. Considering that is the least of this movie's logic problems, we'll let it slide. Atlas finds out through interrogating Harman's minion Casca where the AI terrorists are hiding out, and for some reason she gets put on a team with expert soldiers to track him down and bring him in.

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This is all within the first twenty minutes or so, by the way. So much exposition is thrown at you in that time that soon enough the dialogue all forms into one consistent brown sludge where the only words you really notice are "Harman" or "AI." Stepping back a moment on that interrogation scene, it is laughably bad. Jennifer Lopez forcing what the script considers to be techno-jargon out of her mouth, the poor acting of Casca, the horrible CGI making him look like just a head on a desk, the fact that anyone thought this looked cool, or interesting, or anything that a movie is supposed to be. It got my first real laugh, which at least was some kind of reaction.

From there, we head off to the Andromeda Galaxy of all places, and after warning the soldiers of a trap but giving them no solution for one, Lopez and co. end up getting ambushed, leaving Lopez stranded on a planet with a toxic environment, locked inside a mech suit that feels as if it's stealing equally from Avatar and Titanfall in its design. That mech, like the other ones the soldiers have, is controlled by AI, but here's the kicker kids, Lopez doesn't like AI. She even gives out paper notes... in the future?! How zany she is! Except for the fact she has an AI in her home she plays chess with. Throughout the movie, Atlas and her mech buddy Smith engage in some weak action and the worst banter dialogue I've ever heard as they struggle to bond.

For most of the runtime, we're stuck with Atlas and her robot buddy, so you'd assume the makers of this "movie" would at least have put some effort into making her somewhat likeable, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. Not only does Lopez do a bad job of acting here, but the character flip flops so much between a staunch hatred of AI and a near willingness to accept the neuro link with it that it's impossible to like her or even know who she is. She comes off as annoying throughout, especially so considering we don't find out why she hates AI until the last 30 minutes or so of the film, which is baffling considering we had so much exposition otherwise. Also, her reasoning for hating AI is that she is the one who caused the AI revolution by getting jealous of Simu Liu spending too much time with her mum. Smooth move, idiot, you inadvertently caused the death of millions because mummy didn't want to see you do the latest TikTok dance.

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There are so many things that just refuse to make sense in this 2-hour advert for Elon Musk's neuralink. Why do all of the soldiers absolutely suck at their jobs? Why did humanity even hunt down Harman in the first place if he hadn't done anything in 28 sodding years? Why did they have to make Simu Liu's eyes blue? How does Atlas go from screaming in peril to suddenly calm when she notices her leg is broken so bad the bone is poking out?

As the movie reaches its climax, these questions only get worse. I don't care about spoiling this because I seriously urge you spend your time in another way. At the end of the movie it's revealed that Harman led Atlas to him so he could steal a ship to return to Earth. He's also been hoarding gear and other things he needs for another uprising, which begs the question of how the hell did he get stuff from Earth if he needed to call a ship to get back there? In the final fight, Atlas' mech buddy Smith takes a beating and she's knocked unconscious. Smith drops her on the floor, in front of Harman who then proceeds to hack away at the mech, with Atlas still in his eyeline. A moment later, Atlas stabs him from behind. It's hair-ripping stuff, lads, it really is.

Atlas is not the worst movie I've ever seen (that honour goes to Sausage Party) but it is up there. It's uninspired, unoriginal, and fails to even entertain as an action film. It also portrays the AI as the bad guys despite them believing they're saving humanity by stopping it from destroying itself. I've always hated this trope because it makes humans look like idiots who actually would love to die by blowing each other up. If you want an AI story, go watch Terminator, if you want human and robot friendship, watch Big Hero 6 or play Titanfall 2. If you like the name Shepherd, go play Mass Effect. I know it's a different spelling, just don't watch this movie. I shudder at the idea of Netflix celebrating 20 million views for this movie in its first weekend.

02 Gamereactor UK
2 / 10
Sometimes you can at least get a chuckle of how bad it is, it might make a fun drinking game to take a shot every time the word AI is used
Poor acting, writing, boring action, can feel your finite time on this Earth draining as you watch it
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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MOVIE REVIEW. Written by Alex Hopley

No, you don't need to watch it to see how bad it is, just please don't watch.

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