Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a 2001 animated science fiction adventure film which is Disney’s 41st animated feature. It is one of their weakest outings.

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“You are a scholar, are you not?

Judging from your diminished physique

and large forehead,

you are suited for nothing else?”

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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I don’t know how they could have screwed a premise like this – A crew in 1914 goes to search for Atlantis, the lost civilization. They find it, but the trouble arises when their captain wants to use its resources. It definitely had a lot of potential, but the execution is so muddled that it ended up being one of Disney’s weakest films ever. Now I changed my mind upon second viewing and now I do not think it is bad but rather passable. But still that is very weak for Disney’s standards.

It is crazy to think about, but James Cameron basically ripped this movie off when making ‘Avatar’ which is just too similar to this storyline. That is because this is a good story that deals with important issues and themes. I liked its adventurous tone and it is also the first science fiction film to come out from Disney. But the storytelling isn’t the greatest and the film ended up being too simplistic and way too fast paced for it to work.

Let’s talk about the characters. They are unfortunate as the character development is Atlantis’ biggest flaw. The voice actors admittedly did a very good job plus it is a very interesting cast of characters as it is so diverse. There is a Black/Native American character than a Puerto Rican one and also an Italian and French guy. The movie is surprisingly ethnically and gender diverse for a Disney flick.

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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But that ultimately did not matter as the film is overstuffed with too many characters and neither of them ever get properly developed and they are all thin as a tissue paper and very forgettable. Milo James Thatch is such a boring central character who is actually more annoying than sympathetic. Rourke is such a typical villain who did pose some threat near the end, but is mostly forgettable.

Kida is a typical native love interest who is weakly developed and overly sexualized. Vinny is the most forgettable of the bunch and his jokes did not work. Sweet is highly likable, but also underdeveloped. Helga is interesting and has some great scenes, Ramirez is also interesting albeit not particularly likable and Mole is just too ridiculous of a comic relief and never really funny. But Packard was funny as this elderly bored lady and she is the only character who made me chuckle here.

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire is gorgeously animated. This is the first movie from the studio to be heavily influenced by anime as they really wanted to employ that Japanese style here. And they definitely could employ it successfully so it’s a shame that character and plotwise, all three Disney anime films are very weak (‘Treasure Planet’ and ‘Big Hero 6’ are better than this one, but still so problematic).

I loved its hand-drawn animation, the character designs are very good and particularly the scenery is gorgeous. Some scenes such as that last sequence were stunningly beautiful and that was probably the highlight of the movie. I loved the city, I loved the water and everything looked awesome. The attention to detail that went into this production is staggering as the Atlantean buildings are very unique and they even created an entire language for them. That was very fascinating to witness.

Even though Atlantis is not a musical and doesn’t have any songs whatsoever, it still features a stellar score. The sound is great, but the score is excellent from beginning to end and very atmospheric and grand. It pleasantly reminded me of those old adventure flicks and in that area, it managed to recreate that adventurous feel. That theme near the end is stunning.

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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So in the end it is a three-star movie and one of Disney’s weakest for sure. It is awfully fast in pacing and that is why it was a bit dull at times as I dislike excessive action and the third act here suffered from that. But the first act is very rushed too. I just wanted fewer characters in its cast and more time to breathe with more quality dialogue and emotion. This movie is so cold emotionally that it infuriated me. Disney movies are supposed to be heartwarming. So it is an okay film and intriguing, but ultimately frustratingly weak.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is one of Disney’s most intriguing experiments with a gorgeous anime-influenced animation, excellent score, an impressive attention to detail and a winning premise, but it ultimately failed to become a great sci-fi adventure as it is too fast paced, too emotionally cold and filled with way too many characters who are all very weakly developed. It is a film that had great potential, but is so frustratingly misguided that it ended up being one of Disney’s weakest efforts.

My Rating – 3

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Posted in 2000s, 2001, Adventure, Animated, Disney, FILM DECADES, MOVIE REVIEWS, Science Fiction and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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