Cube Critics

Cube Critics discuss ‘The Bikeriders’ and ‘Atlas’

Two movie posters side by side
"Atlas" is available on Netflix and "The Bikeriders" is in theaters.
Focus Features | Netflix

Cube Critics Max Sparber and Matt Mikus discuss a brand new ‘60s outlaw motorcyclist film and a film about really big robot that feels like it was written by a robot.

The following are capsule reviews edited from the audio heard using the player above.

‘The Bikeriders’

“The Bikeriders,” directed by arthouse filmmaker Jeff Nichols, follows an outlaw bike gang in mid-60s Chicago. Based on the authentic photographs and recordings by Danny Lyons, the film has an unexpected authenticity, with detailed costumes and a vivid setting.

Tom Hardy and Austin Butler lead the cast, with Hardy — who never needs that much encouragement to be incomprehensible onscreen — delivering an especially incomprehensibly thick Chicago accent. Butler, who played Elvis, gives his young biker role an Elvis-like broodiness; eventually, he just wanders away. Jodie Comer, narrating and starring, impresses with a thick accent so pronounced it borders on distraction.

The film is episodic, telling of picnics, bar fights and escalating violence as the decade progresses. Elevating the film is an outstanding soundtrack, a compilation of garage rock and blues rock from bands like The Animals and The Stooges. The soundtrack alone makes the film worth watching.

— Max Sparber


“Atlas,” available on Netflix, is set in a dystopian future where humanity faces extinction from rogue AI. Jennifer Lopez stars as a data analyst named Atlas, who harbors deep distrust for AI, contrasting with a society that still heavily relies on it.

Atlas seems like it would have been the name of the film’s robot; No, the robot is named Smith.

The movie offers stunning effects and several high-octane action sequences that showcase Lopez’s attempt to anchor the film emotionally. However, the script offers too much of her character’s backstory — it feels unnecessary and burdens the straightforward action and survival narrative.

The mecha designs are impressively realized, but the writing does not support the visual achievements, resulting in a storyline that feels emotionally overwrought for an action movie.

— Matt Mikus