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Review: Originality lacking in sci-fi flick 'Atlas' starring Jennifer Lopez

Mark Meszoros, The News-Herald (Willoughby, Ohio) on

Published in Entertainment News

The screenplay for “Atlas,” a new Netflix science-fiction movie starring Jennifer Lopez as a woman desperate to save humanity from a dangerous artificial intelligence, is the work of Leo Sardarian and Aron Eli Coleite, whose respective IMDb credits include the TV series “StartUp” and “The Spiderwick Chronicles.”

If we didn’t know better, we’d guess “Atlas” was composed by an AI.

It feels as though the movie’s producers instructed one of today’s intriguing (but also at least vaguely frightening) programs built on large language models — maybe OpenAI’s ChatGBT, maybe Google’s Gemini — to spit out a script about a future in which humanity is at war with robots that once served them. That would help explain why “Atlas” feels like it consists of bits and pieces from so many other movies and why it is plagued by such subpar dialogue.

Regardless, it’s a bit of a slog.

Directed by Brad Peyton, “Atlas” is set in the future, when humanity’s needs-attending robots have rebelled.

“For years,” says a TV newswoman, “we have been told they would never harm us, but tonight, all of that has changed.”

 

We get images and sounds of chaos around the world. Many people perish. You know the deal.

This robot revolution has been led by Simu Liu’s Harlan, who flees to Planet GR39 in the Andromeda Galaxy after his war with the International Coalition of Nations tilts humanity’s way.

The main narrative begins 28 years later — about 150 years from now, according to the movie’s press notes — with Lopez’s heavy-handedly named Atlas Shepherd a military analyst and an expert on all things Harland, thanks in part to a shared past with the once-gentle robot that will be revealed in time.

She wants in on a mission to that unstable planet, but the operation’s commander, Sterling K. Brown’s Col. Elias Banks, prefers to have nothing to do with her, noting to a superior officer, Mark Strong’s Gen. Jake Boothe, that she failed the exam to become a ranger four times and that her psych evaluation says she’s “rigid and hostile.”

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