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Movie Review: Netflix Atlas

Updated: Jun 6



Four Stars out of Five

Staring:

Jennifer Lopez

Simu Liu

Mark Strong

Sterling K Brown



Ok, so I thought I would regale you my faithful fans with another inciteful and entertaining movie review. I know, I know my taste is impeccable and you all immediately watch every movie I recommend and shun every film I despise and have been waiting in rapt anticipation for my next recommendation. I understand, I would listen to me as well if I were you.


Joking aside, I had some down time recently due to a sudden attack of the plague that had me bed ridden for a week. During the times of lucidity when Advil or Tylenol were keeping the fever at bay, I binged watched my usual fair of Amine, adult and some not so adult animation, Disney plus shows and movies that are now on digital that I missed in the theaters. Having already exhausted the stuff that was on my list, I decided to give this new film a shot.


Now, I'm not going to lie, the fact Jennifer Lopez was the lead in this movie almost made me pass on it. Her age defying physical beauty aside, she isn't really one of my favorite actresses. Sure, she was fine in the 90's and early 2000's Rom-Com's she was known for, but I have never been able to see her a serious actress. Especially as an action star. I know she has tried her hand at both drama and action, but I generally have passed or found her performances simply passable.


Her being chosen as the lead for this film isn't really a good selling point. In fact, I have a few friends that either passed on the film or couldn't take her seriously in the roll. Sadly, it will most likely stop people from giving this film a chance. I do understand since I felt the same way, but I was wrong. What? Am I praising Jennifer Lopez for something other than being hot? Yes, Yes I am.


The first time we are introduced to her she actually looks her age. No grievous amount of makeup or digital grading to make her look younger. Nope, just a slightly disheveled Jennifer Lopez who looks like a fit and still attractive 54 year old woman. They didn't hide her wrinkles and she wasn't wearing outfits that showed off the assets she is so famous for. Nope, just Jennifer, or Atlas which is the name of her character in the film. This made her more believable as the main character and I truly enjoyed her performance.


Jennifer Lopez aside, the story is actually pretty good. It felt more like a short story to me, which of course most films are, but it managed to hit just the right amount of both story and emotional beats. I even cried once or twice. (yes I cry at movies. Get over it.) It isn't anything we haven't seen before, but it works well. If I didn't know any better I would have thought it was written by Terry Mixon of the Empire of Bones fame. The main character being a strong female using an AI driven Mech to defeat another AI that has gone crazy and decided humanity needs to be destroyed for their own good. A little Terminator esk, but different enough to be interesting.


The always great Simu Liu plays the fallen AI and I found his performance haunting and believable even though he usually plays the good guy. His performance as the AI terrorist Harlan is subtle but conveys a deep sense of emotion that I connected with and made me both hate and understand the evil robot. Harlan is not evil in the traditional way, but more in the Thanos kind of way. He is the kind of villain that feels what he is doing, no matter how horrible, is the right thing. His conviction makes him unwavering and willing to even commit genocide if that is what is required. This kind of villain is more frightening than the unhinged completely evil for evil's sake type. They can not be reasoned with, because they have absolute conviction that they are right.


Mark Strong plays the mentor father figure that is trying to help Jennifer Lopez overcome the guilt that has held her back since Harlan rebelled and killed her mother. Her mother was the foremost expert on AI and is responsible for pretty much all of the worlds AI technology. Atlas is completely hyper focused on destroying Harlan since she blames herself for his turn to the dark side. Sterling K Brown plays the commander of the mech Ranger battalion that is assigned to go kill Harland now that they have finally found out where he is hiding. His ranger battalion is different, because their mech suits are run by AI's that they have neuro linked with in order that human and AI can become one and therefor better. Her previous history makes her hateful and untrustworthy of any AI, so of course their is conflict between the two over it. He tries to build a friendship with the closed off and taciturn Atlas, and in the end manages to succeed.


Without giving away to many spoilers, the story isn't really anything new, but it is surprisingly intimate for an action sci-fi movie. Most of the emotional draw of the film is in the forced relationship between Atlas and her AI mech "Smith", which comprises a majority of the story. Due to unforeseen events, she is forced to put on the mech suit she hates and mistrusts and must learn to connect with Smith or they are both going to die. In order for her to completely bond with the AI, she must become totally vulnerable and this leads to the character growth Atlas needs to move on and overcome her past. Can Atlas and Smith overcome their differences in time to stop Harlan and save Earth?


Overall, Atlas is a good movie. I was pleasantly surprised by, not only the story, but Jennifer Lopez's performance. The effects were well done, even if the HD of today is unforgiving. The only forced political message I noticed was the usual environmental one, mankind bad and will destroy itself and the environment if left unchecked. I'm genuinely tired of this trope, but it seems to be the go to for most writers today. it's almost like they can't write a good villain without this philosophy being their motive. Surprisingly, there was a lot about honoring the fallen, sacrifice and standing up for what is right no matter the personal cost and this always hits home for me. All in all, I really enjoyed Atlas and it has a lot of rewatch ability. In truth, I like it better than both the Rebel Moon films and would recommend it over them. If you get a chance check out Atlas on Netflix, you won't be disappointed.

J




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