TNMC Movies: Reviews
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Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Directed by:
Gary Trousdale
Kirk Wise
Written by:
Tab Murphy
Joss Whedon
Bryce Zabel
Jackie Zabel
Starring:
Michael J. Fox
Jim Varney
Claudia Christian
Corey Burton
James Garner
John Mahoney
Phil Morris
Leonard Nimoy
Don Novello
Jacqueline Obradors
Florence Stanley
David Ogden Stiers
Cree Summer


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Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

3 stars3 stars3 stars

Picture this... I get out of my car at the Oak Tree Cinemas at 9:15 in order to be early for the 10 am screening of Atlantis. I round the corner and see a line of 300 kids, parents and theater staff all waiting to get in to see the movie. It turns out that both Radio Disney and the local easy listening station had been promoting the screening and giving free tickets. I get stuck in the Radio Disney crowd. Joy. I will now never be able to forget that Radio Disney's jingle is, "Radio Disney, we're ALL ears!" Lots of kids, lots of parents. I noticed that while the kids were ready just to sit down and watch the movie, the parents were worried about seating arrangements. God forbid that you tell some father, "Sorry, this seat is taken" and make him have to find another row with 5 seats all together. But I digress...

You're probably wondering why I go into such detail about the kids that were there. It's a Disney movie, of course there are going to be kids there. However, I found something in this movie that struck me. Atlantis was not written for kids. Sure, it incorporates all the things that kids enjoy, interesting characters that make them laugh, big bad guys, the good guy that gets the girl in the end... But this movie was totally designed for the parents bringing their kids. Keep that in mind when you think about going to see it.

The premise of the movie is simple enough. Nerdy guy (Milo Thatch played by Michael J. Fox) translates an ancient language and figures out how to find Atlantis. He leads an expedition of military types funded by a wealthy proprietor. Once they find Atlantis, the nerdy guy is the only one who understands the ancient language and falls in love with an Atlantean girl (Princess Kida played by Cree Summer). Then the military types turn on him, hoping to sell the artifacts for huge amounts of money.. Lots of fights, lots of action, good vs evil & a budding love story.

Sound familiar? Kinda like Stargate? I thought so too. That kinda put me off to the movie as I was mulling it over in my head. But then I started thinking about the rest of the movie. Once you get past the similarities between Atlantis and Stargate, the movie is really cool. One of the best things about this movie are the different characters. They're acted so that the kids will like them, but the dialogue is all adult. Lots of great actors lending their voices to a wonderful script helps as well. Michael J. Fox plays Milo Thatch, the hero. James Garner gives a voice to Commander Rourke. Leonard Nimoy shows up as the Atlantean King, and the late Jim Varney stars as "Cookie" the crew's cook.

One of the things that I found cool was that there are LOTS of references in Atlantis. Star Wars, Star Trek, & Raiders of the Lost Ark all have influences. When Milo meets with the wealthy Mr. Whitmore, he is given the "Shepherd's Journal" which holds the secrets of how to find Atlantis. "Your grandfather wanted you to have this when you were old enough," Mr. Whitmore says to Milo. The Phantom Menace even has a cameo when the submarine is attacked by a large underwater beast that looks a lot like the one that attacked Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan & Jar-Jar.

The animation is true Disney magic. Wonderful landscapes, underwater cities, monsters, people, flying fish vehicles, everything. The characters are well drawn and truly come to life with the voices given to them. They totally make the movie worth seeing.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A must see for Disney lovers. This is the best movie Disney has produced in a long time. For those of us who don't like being bothered by hordes of kids, catch the late show. It's well worth watching it on the big screen.

- Punk Jr

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