Atlantis: The Lost Empire (U)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/10/2001

Two out of five stars
Running time: 96 mins

Watchable Disney adventure in the classic tradition – it features some impressive visuals and a strong vocal cast, but lacks the necessary kick to put it up there with Disney’s best.

Atlantis was something of a flop for Disney when it was released in the States earlier this year. This is unfair, because, while it’s some way off the heights of Beauty and the Beast, or even Tarzan, it’s still a decent adventure film with some superb visuals and a strong vocal cast.

Our hero is bookish museum-worker Milo (Michael J. Fox), who dreams of one day embarking on an expedition to discover the lost city of Atlantis.

His wish comes true, when he’s bankrolled by wealthy philanthropist Preston B. Whitmore (John Mahoney, aka Frasier’s Dad), who also provides the impressive submarine and hand-picks the exploration team, including Commander Lyle Rourke (James Garner, excellent), Helga Sinclair (Claudia Christian) and ship’s cook Wilhelmina Packard (Florence Stanley, who promptly steals every scene she’s in).

Wisely, the filmmakers have chosen to ditch the cuddly-animal-comedy-sidekicks and the oh-so-vomit-inducing songs usually associated with this sort of thing, aiming instead for a more traditional adventure that draws on the stories of Jules Verne.

Ironically, of course, it may be the very lack of an out-and-out ‘comedy’ element that scuppered its chances in the States.

Some of the early underwater sequences, particularly those involving the submarine, are undeniably impressive. It’s a shame, then, that the later scenes involving Atlantis aren’t nearly as impressive – after all, that’s what the film is supposed to be about.

Also, the plot takes a bizarrely mystical twist that may leave younger viewers either confused or bored.

With that in mind, it’s fair to say that the target audience of Atlantis is probably quite small, consisting of 10-13 year old children who like to read adventure stories (and, of course, hardcore animation fans).

To sum up, then, Atlantis is by no means a disaster, but more of a noble failure.

It has all the right ingredients, but lacks that certain something, though kids of a certain age are likely to enjoy it as a straightforward adventure movie of the kind they really don’t make anymore. Flawed, but worth watching.

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Content updated: 22/04/2019 19:44

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