A Movie Everyone Can Enjoy

 

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) Review 5
Director:Gary TrousdaleKirk Wise,
Starring:Michael J. Fox, James Garner, Claudia Christian, Jim Varney, Florence Stanley, Phil Morris, John Mahoney, Leonard Nimoy
Length:95 minutes
Rated:PG

 

A little perverted Frenchman, a pyromaniac (resembling Hitler), and a chain smoker that sleeps in the nude — who’d have ever thought all of this would come from our trusted friend Disney? But it has, and in Atlantis, Disney has finally broken away from their traditional, “safe,” G-rated string of movies and made one worth seeing.

We’ve all heard of Disney’s annual “flops” — the last movie of theirs that was really good (what I’d consider classic Disney) was The Lion King. Since then we’ve only seen attempts at recreating such magic, most of which have been brainless kiddie flicks. Atlantis succeeds at getting back at this magic, but in a different way: No longer do we have to sit through countless musical numbers or annoying sidekicks. And you won’t have a surefire guess at who the villain is right away, and parents of rowdy youngsters won’t be falling asleep midway through the movie, either. No, Disney has finally reclaimed its past glory.

Our leading man this time is Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox), a rather charming, well, nerd with a dead end job. Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, he is an expert in ancient languages and in search of the lost civilization of Atlantis. Now, with the help of a sympathetic billionaire, Milo’s quest can finally get underway. With a mystical journal, a team of explorers, and a small army, Atlantis will be sought.

With most animated films today produced by means of computer-generated images, one might think that this could take away from the effect of Atlantis — but this isn’t the case at all. In keeping with their “old school” style of animation, Disney has successfully created a world full of beauty and splendor that matches up to their contemporary classics. Also, with a starker, more angular appearance than most Disney animation, Atlantis has a different, engaging look to it.

Atlantis also has the added benefit of more action and adventure to replace the increasingly tepid musical numbers. There are firearms, explosives, a submarine chase, and a surprisingly high body count — this isn’t a sanitized Disney film of old. But even with this new approach, Disney managed to keep Atlantis parent/child-friendly. The small audience members might be a little frightened, but overall the kids will be taken in by the excitement.

As is par for the course on Disney films, there were plenty of great characters voiced by recognizable Hollywood talent. Michael J. Fox led the cast in the hero’s role of Milo, and screen veterans James Garner, Jim Varney, and Leonard Nimoy also lent a hand — er, voice. In fact, contrary to most recent Disney films, there wasn’t a truly annoying or obnoxious character to be found, and my only problem was with Milo. With such an abundance of supporting characters, Milo had a tendency to get lost in the crowd. And surprisingly enough, there wasn’t much from the Atlantians. We were able to meet Kida (voiced by Cree Summer), the princess of Atlantis, but there isn’t any real development of her character (except a surprising look of her in a bikini).

Overall, Atlantis is a fun movie that everyone will enjoy — after years of releasing half-hearted animated films, Disney has finally made a good one that is worth seeing in the theater. And FYI, there are no songs or career-resurrection attempts by Phil Collins, Elton John, or Sting.