More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 24.24%
Average: 4.55%
Pretty Bad: 16.67%
Total Crap: 3.03%

4 reviews, 42 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Dumbo (2019) by Peter Sobczynski

Starfish by Jay Seaver

Rodents of Unusual Size by Lybarger

Transit by Jay Seaver

Dragged Across Concrete by Peter Sobczynski

Crossing, The (2018) by Jay Seaver

Us by Peter Sobczynski

More than Blue (2018) by Jay Seaver

Three Husbands by Jay Seaver

Furie by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Atlantis: The Lost Empire
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Andrew Howe

"Not quite buried treasure, but close enough."
4 stars

For someone who is an adult in years (if not necessarily in action), reviewing an animated Disney film is always a risky endeavour. Misty-eyed memories of hours spent in the embrace of Disney products at a tender age can lead one to ignore the film’s obvious crimes, while on other occasions the shallow characters and childlike nature of the subject matter will see it dismissed as a “kid’s film”. However, if we accept that these films must be judged by a different set of standards than those applied to, say, the latest Scorsese production, then Atlantis is a qualified success. It’s not the next Aladdin, but it’s still an entertaining, unique release from the studio that wrote the book on animated adventures.

Since nobody’s expecting a multi-layered, labyrinthine narrative, a plot summary is almost redundant. For what it’s worth, it concerns the trials and tribulations of a band of adventurers on the trail of the sunken city of the title. It wouldn’t be much of a film if they didn’t stumble across it, which opens the way for the second half of the film to dole out new-age mysticism and old-fashioned derring-do in equal proportions.

The film’s selling point is its unique visual style. Many present-day animators are obsessed with maintaining the illusion of reality, but Atlantis turns this notion on its head by serving up a gloriously twisted vision of the early 1900’s. Inspired by comic book artist Mike Mignola, it does what animated films do best, which is to create an atmosphere which would be impossible to replicate in a live-action film.

Atlantis is a steampunk odyssey, with fantastic turn-of-the-century contraptions rubbing shoulders with Victorian values and lifestyles. The character designs are a grab-bag of styles – some are unusually angular, while other doe-eyed individuals appear to have been flown in from an anime production. The background art design ranges from the pedestrian (the Heart of Atlantis is nothing more than a bright light hovering amidst a ring of standing stones) to the breathtaking (the final shot is especially memorable), but it’s a brave and distinctive creation which makes few concessions to anyone expecting another vibrant, colourful excursion in the vein of The Lion King.

The film’s structure also defies conventional Disney wisdom, which is to concentrate on a couple of main characters and shoehorn in a dose of high-level cute. Compared to most Disney efforts Atlantis features a cast of thousands, with the available screen time divided amongst ten major characters and numerous supporting players. There’s no loveable rabbits or crickets amongst this bunch, either – most of them are either mentally unstable or self-serving (or both), with Princess Kida (Cree Summer) providing the only “traditional” Disney protagonist (she’s nice to everyone, and something of a babe).

The ostensible hero is Milo (Michael J. Fox) – he’s a typical nerd, and the only reason he doesn’t have a battalion of biros in his top pocket is because they haven’t been invented yet. His ineptitude is endearing (everyone loves a big-hearted klutz), and Fox’s vocal delivery is perfect for the role. The rest of the characters are a mixed bag: I could have lived without the sledgehammer humour of Mole (Corey Burton), but Vinny (Don Novello), a florist who switches careers to become an explosives expert, is a genuine delight, and everyone else has their moments (Helga’s perpetually-disgusted expression, Mrs. Packard’s nocturnal habits, and many others).

While the film features plenty of laughs, it’s somewhat darker than your average Disney flick. Low-level violence abounds, bodies litter the landscape, and there’s nary a trace of political correctness to be found (a chain-smoking supporting character being a prime example). As a result it’s difficult to determine the film’s intended market – the absence of traditional Disney staples will not endear it to the pre-teen market, but its concessions to younger viewers ensure it will never be mistaken for adult entertainment.

The film is overlong (an extended bonding sequence with the Heart of Atlantis seems to go on forever), which suggests that a little judicious pruning would not have gone astray, and for every inspired line of dialogue there’s another which will have adult viewers wondering if they were ever young enough to mistake inane banter for top-shelf scripting. However, the film’s strengths more than compensate for its occasional missteps – it’s not for everyone, but if you’re looking for a rousing, artfully-designed adventure laced with adult concepts and laugh-out-loud humour, then Atlantis is worth seeking out.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 09/16/01 11:34:32
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

9/24/15 WALTER The humans look like refugees from SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS and PINOCCHIO. 5 stars
3/09/13 dr.lao Doesn't really feel like a Disney movie...but who cares?!? 4 stars
10/20/11 Magic A cynical attempt to get teenage boys to watch Disney movies. It's Stargate all over again. 2 stars
4/01/10 Fievel Best Disney offering since THE LION KING. 5 stars
3/23/10 Fievel The characters are hand-drawn similarly to those in SNOW WHITE,PINOCCHIO and FANTASIA. 5 stars
2/21/06 Quigley why bother being blasted with more Disney crap? Disney has sold out BIG TIME! 2 stars
8/18/05 ES Nonsense jeremy this is a fine and entertaining film, far better than hercules and mulan 4 stars
7/18/03 Kelli interesting, unlike most disney movies this requires intelligence! good job disney! 5 stars
7/13/03 WWE HHH-HATE CLUB this was a very good film 4 stars
4/19/03 Ubu the Ripper A worthy addition to the Disney animated canon. 5 stars
9/27/02 John McNew Stick to your song-and-dance numbers Disney, they're more fun... 3 stars
8/17/02 Andrew Patrick This PG Movie Rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This Movie kicks butt!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/26/02 Charles Tatum Better than "Shrek," but so are your home movies 4 stars
2/14/02 baby satan YOU ARE THE ONES WHO ARE THE BALL-LICKERS! 5 stars
2/11/02 Cat This was good!! 4 stars
11/01/01 Mariel Lynch This is a really good movie i don't know critics say its bad. 5 stars
10/10/01 Mark Miles Wonderful animation and somewhat inventive storyline 5 stars
10/10/01 Andrew Carden Extremly Confusing and Unexciting Cartoon. 2 stars
9/27/01 Shane Robert Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My first favourite Disney film... IT RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/27/01 everybodiesmom very enjoyable, I really liked it and Im well over 40 4 stars
9/27/01 no one Well, I liked it. 5 stars
9/27/01 Lefty Great graphics and story held both my 4 yr old's and my attention 5 stars
9/25/01 viking You're a fool, Erik. At least it has a story to compliment the animation 5 stars
9/18/01 Alvaro Sensational Animation 5 stars
8/19/01 miyax Disney should just give up while they still have a chance 1 stars
8/05/01 Moira Best damn animated film I've seen by an American company: Intelligent, sophisticated, funny 5 stars
7/15/01 Rampage at least it beat Pokemon: The Movie 3 5 stars
7/13/01 ALEXIS this movie kick butt 5 stars
7/08/01 the scarecrow It was amusing but there were too many plot points left unanswered. 2 stars
7/01/01 Roy Smith Stargate II - The Animation Version. Plus Michael J is annoying + the animation is uneven. 3 stars
7/01/01 gloria interesting, funny, enjoyable 4 stars
6/29/01 Geebo Very enjoyable, more so than anything else in theaters right now. That girl was hott. 5 stars
6/27/01 John Y No talking animals and no silly musical numbers - What A Relief! 5 stars
6/27/01 Mario Better than Groove? No way! But worth it for the cool scenes and deep backstories. 4 stars
6/20/01 Hentai Not as good as earlier Disney classics but an enjoyable experiment. Very good on its own 5 stars
6/20/01 Jenni Beautifully drawn. Better story than most Disney films and I should know. 5 stars
6/17/01 Michael pretty good 4 stars
6/17/01 Anne For a kid's movie pretty good. But didn't you have the feeling it was missing heart? 4 stars
6/17/01 Coda Only worth the throw-away jokes, which is a bad sign. Maybe the toys will be cool. 3 stars
6/16/01 J Sorry Erik but I am going with Eric on this one. A very excellent movie. 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  15-Jun-2001 (PG)


  20-Sep-2001 (G)

Directed by
  Gary Trousdale
  Kirk Wise

Written by
  Tab Murphy

  Michael J. Fox
  Jim Varney
  James Garner
  John Mahoney
  Leonard Nimoy
  Don Novello

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast