Atlantis: The Lost Empire (DVD, 2002, 2-Disc Set, Special Edition)

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire -- Floats Then Sinks

Feb 20, 2002
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:It's an animated feature.

Cons:Sexual situations and bomb guy.

The Bottom Line: Not recommended for young kids (under age 10), ok for older kids - but strays away from Disney's trust in quality animated movies.


If it meant bringing up the long lost city of Atlantis to the surface for all to see and exploit – I’d be for that much more than Disney bringing it to the screen. I’ve heard the argument in the past about how Disney has been creating more “adult” films yet continuing to market them towards their traditional demographic – kids. I’ve been a strong supporter of the fact that Disney can choose to release some movies for adults and kids and other movies simply for kids. But I cannot remember the last time Disney released a film simply for kids. For the past several years in the month of June, Disney has released a pre-summer vacation movie. First it was The Little Mermaid, then Beauty and the Beast, then Aladdin, then The Lion King, then The Hunchback of Notre Dame, then Mulan, then Hercules, then Tarzan, and now Atlantis: The Lost Empire. The first story based solely on a place and not on a person or animal. Tarzan may of stretched the patience of parents by the mere fact that Tarzan wore very little clothing – but Atlantis is void of any fair amount of entertainment value towards our kids.

The movie stars off with a boiler maker. No, not the alcoholic drink, but a man who is confined to the boiler room even though he obviously has the smarts for something far more sophicated. Then, he is seduced, by a strange visitor in his apartment, who has to show him her finely shaved naked legs in order to get him to go along – thus making the story go along. When all is said and done, our main character (voiced by Michael J. Fox) finds himself in the company of not one – no, this isn’t an evil witch or wizard – no, not two – no, this isn’t a team of calico cats – no, not three, not four, but a whole mess of individuals who make his life unpleasant. We don’t need any more evil individuals prancing around in our children’s mind so they can recreate their actions on the school yard.

Although I’ve had some problems with previous Disney films, I do have to say that I was quite proud of the fact that they seemed to be empowering more individuals in their films than simply the traditional kind – the manly hero. In The Little Mermaid – the girl fought evil, overcame the prejudice of her father, and found herself in the arms of her true love. In Beauty and the Beast, Belle overcame a whole town of “burn him at the stake” type individuals and found true inner love before the rose died. In Aladdin, here’s a poor guy, who has to fend for himself for food in a time where there were not local shelters. In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the main character was an ugly ogre – someone who could not possibly star in a movie (and then, there’s Shrek!). Mulan overcame gender prejudice and saved her country. And let’s not forget Hercules, actually let’s forget him. Then, there’s Tarzan, who, who, who, who, ok….yeah, let’s forget him too. My point is(hitting the spacebar with meaning)this – there is no empowerment left in Disney films, unless you count the accountant who gets promoted each summer. Disney is in dire need of a new officer. Someone who will bring back the true sense of Disney – someone who will remember the dream of a man who built a landmark called Disneyland –movies made for kids. I wish Walt were still alive. I think he would force Michael Eisner to pitch a tent at the bottom of Space Mountain and see if he likes the heat down in hell.

The story of Atlantis is this. There was a time, back in the good old days, where this city that had extreme power, extreme technology, extreme anything and everything but was one day swallowed up by a huge oceanic wave and thus buried at the bottom of the sea. It has been said that this place is mystical and thus explorers from all over have tried to not only locate it’s whereabouts but also find it’s power and thus become more powerful. Maybe Bill Gates didn’t discover Windows, maybe he discovered Atlantis. You see, discovering Atlantis means you will automatically become filled with greed for you have the power. If not, it means that you are a true historian out to not conquer a way of life but to find it and give praise to it.

I never thought I’d actually say this – and who knows I may retract my statement later on in life – but Disney movies should stay family orientated. I know that as a company they need to continue to change if not to expand their creativity but to expand their profits. But Disney as a whole has really strayed away from family orientated programming. Disney, a parent company, has plenty of sub-companies that they use to expand into the realm of movies that at a time no one would ever imagine that name Disney would be associated to. Yet, no matter how many companies they swallow up to expand their overall profit margins – the powers that be must think they need to continue to exploit the brand name Disney. I know it’s a futile dream, but I wish the leaders of Disney would make a clear boundary between Disney the family orientated company and Disney the not-so-family-orientated company. That way, a parent could see the difference between the type of programming one offers and know from a quick glance that they need not worry about taking their kids to see a Disney movie compared to a Miramax movie.

If there was one great thing I could say about Atlantis: The Lost Empire it would be that it seemed in this movie, Disney strayed away from hiring some famous pop star to contribute songs to the movie. You won’t find any Elton John or Phil Colins songs here. In fact, I cannot remember a single song in the movie including the end credits. Also, Atlantis didn’t have a romantic underlying theme (except for the seduction sequence) which normally fuels the romantic pop songs. The main female in this movie even finds herself trapped in a box – an underlying theme that I’m sure plenty of critics will point out and focus on. But through it all, Disney threw the romance and the instant commercial hit soundtrack to the wolfs – now if only they’d refrain from sexual undertones.

Would I recommend Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Yes, but I’d say for kids aged 10 and above. It’s not a kiddie movie. Yes, it’s a cartoon and your kids will probably enjoy watching colorful images dance around on the screen and in their imaginations – but the movie had too many themes that if I was a parent I’d be a little ticked off at. I almost forgot to mention this. But there is even a particular character in the film that is an explosive expert and makes light and makes jokes to the fact that he greatly enjoys making bombs especially when they explode. I’m not saying that a kid especially with some parental guidance couldn’t come to the determination that this bomb guy is simply a fictional character – but again, in the minds of our children I’d rather they were not exposed to these type of characters, especially at a very young age. There is of course always room for discussion. Some could argue that watching palace soldiers chase Aladdin around with huge swords was putting unmoral images into our children’s eyes – but at least they did it with a song and dance – unlike a bomb guy that simply smirks at the mere fact that he enjoys blowing things and potentially people, up.

Michael J. Fox leads the vocal talent as Milo. Other voice talent is provided by: James Garner as Rourke, John Mahoney (Fraiser’s Dad) as Preston Whitmore, Leonard Nimoy as the Atlantean King, Corey Burton as Moliere, Claudia Christian as Helga, Phil Morris as Dr. Sweet, Don Novello as Vinney, Jacqueline Obradors as Audrey, Jim Varney as Cookie, David Ogden Stiers as Mr. Harcourt and Jim Cummings doing many other voices. The vocal talent is average probably because none of them are asked to sing any songs. Plus their characters pretty much fit the voice – instead of the voice being changed to fit the character.

Overall, Atlantis is an average family fare movie. I’d restrict the age limit to the above 10 crowd, but then again with so few movies being made these days that cater for young people, Atlantis is probably not all that bad. If I had to, I’d much rather take them to see Atlantis over any PG movie, that’s for sure. But I do still long for the day when Disney movies meant trust. For now, we may just have to see the movie first before allowing our kids to see it. Perhaps that what Disney has in mind. That will definitely increase their profit margins.


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