This one I recommend.

The crew has reached Atlantis.

Fun; greatly enjoyable

I’ve recently noticed that I haven’t reviewed any of the Disney-films on my blog yet. So I thought “which one  should I write about?” After a while I realized that Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a film I really want to write about. So, here goes!

Now, the reason I picked this particular Disney-film was not only because it is one of my most beloved ones, but also because I find that, oddly enough, many people seem to consider it one of the worse Disney-films. It seems to be, partially, because this is a Disney-picture that tries to do something different than a fairy tale-film and/or musical; for some this did not work, for me it worked quite well.

The film brings to mind the writing of Jules Verne, being a steampunk-story that reminds me of the classic Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. It follows socially awkward linguist/cartographer named Milo Thatch (Michael J. Fox), who longs to go to Iceland to find The Shepherd’s Journal, which supposedly will tell him the location of the lost city of Atlantis. No one wants to fund his expedition at first, but one night he meets a woman named Helga (Claudia Christian), who escorts him to the house of Preston B. Whitmore (John Mahoney), who used to know Milo’s grandfather Thadeus Thatch.

To Milo’s delight, Whitmore already has The Shepherd’s Journal in possesion – turns out Thadeus Thatch had already searched for it. Whitmore provides a ship, a crew and many other things for Milo to go find Atlantis. This is where the film gets truly fun as we’re introduced to all kinds of fascinating, bizarre and hilarious characters. We meet a French, dirt-obsessed, crazed geologist named Gaetan “Mole” Moliére (Corey Burton), an intimidatingly large but very kind African-American doctor named Joshua Strongbear Sweet (Phil Morris), an Italian demolition expert, who loves blowing things up, named Vinny (Don Novello), a tough, young Puerto Rican mechanic named Audrey (Jacqueline Obradors), an elderly Texan cook, who loves to make nasty food, called Cookie (the late Jim Varney, who passed away during production) and an old, sarcastic radio operator, who won’t raise her voice, named Mrs. Packard (Florence Stanley).

Kidagakash has become one with the heart of Atlantis.

The commander aboard the ship is is Lyle Tiberius Rourke (James Garner), who has his own, greedy intentions. A large part of the crew is wiped out as the ship starts to reach Atlantis. The survivors end up going through caves until suddenly they come across a group of warriors, led by Princess Kidagakash (Cree Summers), but you can call her Kida, who are revealed to be from the hidden city of Atlantis. Milo and co. visit Atlantis but the king, voiced by Leonard Nimoy, is worried that they are up to no good, so he only lets them stay one night. During that night, Kida and Milo starts discussing the scribblings and texts on all the walls in Atlantis, as well as the mysterious Heart of Atlantis, all whilst Rourke sets his evil plans in motion.

I remember seeing a teaser for this movie when I was little; I was terrified by it. A bit later I saw the movie and, as I had expected, I was indeed rather scared at times. This film was an attempt by Disney to be cooler and a bit more adult and judging from the way this young boy reacted, I would say it worked fairly well. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which also was done by Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, tried something similar but still, that film had talking gargoyles and a cute little goat. Atlantis: The Lost Empire is less cartoony in tone, but strangely more cartoony in its animation. Interesting.

To me, this is one of the more underrated and unfairly treated animated Disney-movies. I can say safely that I enjoyed it more than most who have seen it. Sure, some thing make little sense – how, for instance, could Atlanteans speak all languages just because they evolved from theirs? – and the animation is not as well-done as in Beauty and The Beast or The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but there are still plenty of moments when it is astounding to look at. Atlantis: The Lost Empire is most certainly strongest when it comes to characters. All those crewmembers I mentioned above are all delightful in their own odd ways. My favourites are dirty little Moliére, Jim Varney’s character and Vinny, but everyone else is amusing also.

The film also seems to be disliked due to its absence of musical numbers, but I don’t really get why we should complain about a Disney-film simply because no characters break out into song. This film certainly has a story that doesn’t really require Alan Menken’s help. Who knows? Perhaps I am missing something, but I like this movie greatly; I like its vast collection of interesting characters, its score by James Newton Howard, its cartoony yet nice-looking animation, its visuals and its enthralling action scenes.

I keep hearing claims that the film is flawed, but everytime I watch it I still really like it. Case closed, sez I.

4/5 whatever.

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