a critiQal film review Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: The world's most highly qualified crew of archaeologists and explorers are led by historian Milo Thatch (Fox) as they board the incredible 1,000-foot submarine Ulysses and head deep into the mysteries of the sea. The underwater expedition takes an unexpected turn when the team's mission must switch from exploring Atlantis to protecting it.

502 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 30s)

When I first saw Disney’s animated feature Atlantis: The Lost Empire, I was once again impressed by how Disney could turn a legend into a fantastical film. Of course, since that first viewing was more than a decade ago, I’d forgotten a lot about the film. So, when Atlantis: The Lost Empire showed up on NetFlix®, I figured it was about time I took another look.

Would this adventure be as impressive as what I remembered, or had I overestimated the film the first go ’round?

Michael J. Fox is perfectly cast as Milo Thatch, a nerdy linguist with a passion for finding the fabled lost city of Atlantis. His timber lends the perfect blend of charm and uncertainty to this geek with a heart of gold, and his expected turn-to-heroism as the film progresses.

Other notable names are easily recognizable among the voice cast, with 80’s flashback Jim Varney (who played the title character in that cheesy Ernest Goes to Camp series) foremost among them, lending his voice antics to the role of Cookie, the “chef” of the trip. James Garner, (memorable for his role in classic 80’s film Tank, among many others in his long career) is easily recognizable as well, lending his voice talents easily to the strong-willed leader of the trip, Rourke. John Mahoney (of “Frasier” fame) also gets in on the action, lending his voice (and a note of hearty glee) to the role of eccentric billionaire Whitmore.

Surprisingly, one of the most recognizable names among the voice cast is also the hardest to spot, as Leonard Nimoy so encompasses the expected voice of the King of Atlantis viewers may not even realize it’s him until the credits roll.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire, unlike predecessors like Aladdin (1992), finally manages to combine hand-drawn and computer animation seamlessly, with the viewer never noticing the difference between the two (unlike, say, Aladdin (1992) with the two clearly different versions of lava chasing down our hero). The animation is top-notch, and viewers will easily find themselves caught up in the storyline, rather than focusing on spotting errors in the animation.

The storyline isn’t without it’s faults, the entertaining characters and the overriding sense of grand adventure imbued within the movie will keep viewers entertained throughout. The storytellers do a great job bringing each character to life, and the storyline and quick pacing keep the viewer enraptured.

With a strong voice cast, solid animation, quick pacing and a strong storyline, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is another solid Disney movie worth watching again and again. While it’s definitely more in the action/adventure category than the romantic adventures viewers might be used to from Disney (Cinderella (1950), etc.). The lack of sing-along songs and the violence (which helps give the film it’s PG rating) also help differentiate this film from the Disney norm, and make it seem more of an animated film for adults than it’s predecessors.

A solid effort by Disney, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is worth watching time and again.

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