Atlantis: The Lost Empire


Atlantis: The Lost EmpireStarring:
Michael J Fox as Milo Thatch
Jim Varney as Cookie
Corey Burton as The Mole
Claudia Christian as Helga Sinclair
James Garner as Commander Lyle T Rourke
John Mahoney as Preston B Whitmore
Phil Morris as Dr Joshua Sweet
Leonard Nimoy as King of Atlantis
Don Novello as Vinny
Jacqueline Obradors as Audrey Ramirez
Florence Stanley as Wilhelmina Bertha Packard
David Ogden Stiers as Fenton Q Harcourt
Cree Summer as Princess Kida

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a fun and unique animated action adventure.

Milo Thatch is a lowly researcher at the Smithsonian Institute. He has devoted much of his life and studies to finding the lost city of Atlantis. He has built on the research done by his late grandfather. However, Milo is the laughing stock of his colleagues. Nobody believes Atlantis exists.

All of that changes one day when Thatch is approached by a wealthy businessman named Preston Whitmore. He was a friend of Milo’s grandfather and intends to fulfill a promise to search for the lost city. Whitmore has assembled an expedition to conduct a search based on newly uncovered evidence. Included in the expedition are the militaristic Commander Rourke, the beautiful and tough Helga Sinclair, the deadpan explosive expert Vinny, the dirt obsessed Frenchman Moliere, and more. They all man a massive submarine full of fantastic equipment.

Milo agrees to guide the expedition and translate the strange Atlantean text. They discover an incredible world beyond their imagination and a lost civilization on the brink of collapse. Milo holds the key to saving it all.

This film is rated PG for action violence.

What Worked:
This is a classic action adventure film. It is equal doses of Jules Verne, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Star Wars. Atlantis is filled with action, adventure, comedy, and more all set against the backdrop of a mysterious world. The animation in this film is beautiful. While it doesn’t necessarily break new technical ground, it makes up for it in excitement and imagination. The characters use fantastic machines, wear wondrous costumes, and have distinctive looks. The world is based on the unique styles of famous comic artist Mike Mignola. His touch is all through the movie and gives it a feel different from any other Disney film.

The characters in this film were perfectly cast. Michael J. Fox is spot on as the quirky researcher Milo Thatch. Other notables include Don Novello (aka Father Guido Sarducci) as the demolitions expert Vinny. His deadpan performance is hilarious. Phil Morris (better known as lawyer Jackie Chiles from Seinfeld) as Dr Joshua Sweet adds quite a bit of humor. In fact, almost every character in this ensemble cast has great moments in the film. The creators did a good job of developing characters.

The Atlantean culture was really interesting to me. It was a mix of a lot of different real world cultures. They used architecture from Asia, tattoos from Polynesia, bits of Egyptian, Greek, Norse, and more. At the same time they did a few all-new things that made the Atlanteans truly unique. It was an impressive and imaginative interpretation of the legendary city.

I must also comment on the rousing soundtrack by James Newton Howard. He does a great theme to the adventure that you’ll have stuck in your head well after the film. He also creates some unique music for Atlantis that is an interesting mix of Asian and Indian music. This will be an interesting CD to add to your collection.

Highlights of the film include an attack on the submarine by a Leviathan, an underground aerial battle, and a grand finale involving an exploding volcano. If you’re a fan of animation or adventure films, you’ll want to see Atlantis.

What Didn’t Work:
I don’t have much to complain about with this film. If I were going to point anything out, it would be the occasional lack of back story. For example, the early origins of Atlantis, the people, and their unique technology are never really explained. The logistics of their population are never really explained either. If the people are 8800 years old, why haven’t they overpopulated their city? Why haven’t they tinkered over time and created new machinery or writing? Why haven’t they advanced some? And why are there strange alien monsters running around everywhere? These are nitpicky questions and ones you shouldn’t be asking in this type of film. But I was so intrigued by the concept of this city and the sense of exploration that they are thoughts that popped in my mind.