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Do Critics Want to Put Atlas on the Map?

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Photo: Ana Carballosa/Netflix

This is her … now … on Netflix. Jennifer Lopez is trying to save humanity as the titular character in Brad Peyton’s new sci-fi film, Atlas. Simu Liu and Sterling K. Brown also star, but the movie’s main focus is on Atlas and her sentient mecha suit, which is voiced by Gregory James Cohan. Atlas delivers a pretty positive message about AI … hmm, how do we think that will land with a group of critics who likely don’t want to be replaced by robots? As it turns out, the AI story line is only one of the problems that critics have with the project. Early reactions so far have generally been a shrug at best — for example, a Hollywood Reporter headline politely drags it as “another Netflix movie made to half-watch while doing laundry.” While some reviews have offered praise for Lopez’s performance, she was also involved as a producer on the film, so the overall response is probably still something J.Lo’s PR team might want to keep on the lo. Below, what critics are saying about Atlas. 

“When, someday not so long from now, Netflix begins serving up personalized AI-generated sludge content based on each of our viewing histories, it probably won’t look all that different from Atlas, which barely looks like it was made by humans anyway. But the point of Atlas isn’t to make its actors look big — it’s to remind us that AI is our friend, even when it occasionally tries to exterminate us, and that we should get over ourselves and our tetchy objections.” —Alison Willmore, Vulture

Atlas feels like an underwhelming return to the kind of projects that have maintained Lopez’ place in the Hollywood firmament, but not the ones that catapulted her there in the first place.” —Todd Gilchrist, Variety

“In a moment when everyone is legitimately concerned about the role that AI will play in our lives going forward, creating such a limp, insecure film that deals directly with the subject, yet says absolutely nothing about it, isn’t just a waste of money. It’s a waste of valuable time.” —Coleman Spilde, Daily Beast

“For a futuristic, planet-hopping adventure, Atlas feels awfully tiny; as a romance (minus the actual romance), it treads no new emotional terrain. But there’s something oddly relatable, even romantic about its hope that healing one’s heart might be the first step in saving the world.” —Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter

“The script teeters between high-concept and a showcase for Lopez’s versatility, and despite a decent premise for some futuristic thrills, Atlas often feels like a missed opportunity, hampered by sluggish pacing and a lack of depth in character development for everyone else except Atlas.”
—Valerie Complex, Deadline

“At times Atlas feels like pure pastiche, and it looks, in a fashion we’re getting used to seeing on the streamers, kind of cheap, dark, plasticky and fake, particularly in the big action sequences. Science fiction often earns its place in memory by envisioning something new and startling — but with Atlas, we’ve seen it all before.” —Alissa Wilkinson, the New York Times

“Ultimately Atlas either needed to be much dumber or much smarter to be good. It also needed to let Jennifer Lopez walk. But its biggest sin might be what it ultimately says about the possibility of artificial intelligence at a time when corporations are force feeding useless A.I. garage down our throats.”
—Mikey Walsh, Nerdist

“Mostly, it all looks like a video game cut scene, which isn’t just a ding on its overall aesthetics (cheap), but its general narrative thrust (weak, silly). The closer you pay attention to those elements, the harder they are to ignore, and the less even vaguely entertaining this all is. The less worth saving, too.”
—Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“[T]he entire affair is powered by a B-movie air of cheesy fun, and Lopez makes for a convincing high-kicking heroine when she buddies up with the mech robot snappily voiced by Gregory James Cohan. It’s an action film an AI could have scripted but you’d have to have a circuit loose not to get caught up in the high-octane silliness.” —Ed Power, The Telegraph

“In another world, all it’s really guilty of is being just okay. But I felt completely inactivated by this movie. I connected to no one, cared about nothing. The emotional tenor of scenes rose and fell without moving me in the slightest.” —Alex Harrison, Screen Rant

“While Lopez’s star power and raw appeal are palpable as ever, that’s not enough to flesh out a guilt-ridden, self-loathing genius whose intellect is key to humanity’s survival. The dismal writing does her no favors, true, but she’s the sort of actress who can save The Wedding Planner — not Earth.”
—Johnny Oleksinski, the New York Post

“There’s just none of the awe we should get from a film such as this, director Brad Peyton […] never able to edge his film away from being just another streaming simulation of a real blockbuster. For a film that wants us to stop worrying and love big tech, Atlas does an awfully good job of showing us why we should still be wary of it.” —Benjamin Lee, The Guardian

Related

  • Not Even Jennifer Lopez Seems to Know What Atlas Is Meant to Be
  • Can You Handle Another Bennifer Breakup?
  • J.Lo’s Never-Ending Love Story

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Jennifer Zhan , 2024-05-25 02:26:32

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