You should definitely watch Atlantis: The Lost Empire

“Criminally underrated”-Me, 2019

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*theatrical poster*

Its really crazy how viewing a movie at a completely different age can completely change the experience.

I had thought I saw this film back when I was a kid. My memory of it was “eh it was I guess?”. Well, either at some point I had my memory wiped or my memory is in a much graver state than I previously imagined. Because after watching this charming animated adventure again on Disney+, I feel really really silly and also slightly disoriented.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a 2001, animated, Sci-fi action adventure, and at the time was Disney’s 41st animated feature film. It was one of the few Disney animated features at the time that instead of being a musical, was focused solely on being action-adventure film inspired by the works of Jules Verne and old Sci-fi comic serials. It also had a art style heavily influenced by comic creator Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy.

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concept art for atlantis by Mignola

The film follows Milo Thatch, a cartographer and linguist at the Smithsonian Institution, who is mocked and chastised for his passionate research and belief in the Sunken city of Atlantis. He however catches a break when an old friend of his grandfather, funds his expedition, and gives him a jaw dropping submarine, the Ulysses, with a very eccentric yet highly skilled skilled crew.

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The Expedition Crew From left to right: Cookie (Head Chef), Mrs Packard (Radio operator), Dr Sweet (Medical officer), Vinny– (Demolitions expert), Mole ( Geologist), and Audrey (Mechanic)

The crew depart on their expedition but are quickly attacked by the monstrous Leviathan, a robotic lobster-like creature that guards Atlantis’ entrance. The Ulysses is wrecked but the crew narrowly make it inside the city, which is where Milo meet Princess Kida. From there we learn of the tragic fate of the lost city, and where the true conflict of story seeps in.

While the overall plot of Atlantis is pretty straight forward, save for maybe a twist or two, the biggest strengths of the movie come from the beautiful animation and art direction, as well as the very quick paced and intelligent dialogue, with the dynamic of the crew tying everything together. The whole movie could have been just these characters riffing off of each other and I might have been satisfied. But if that happened we would have never gotten the visual feast for the eyeballs that is the action packed climax or the beautifully drafted piece of art that is the lost city itself.

It was Written and Directed by Gary Trousedale and Kirk Wise ,who also directed Beauty and The Beast, along with The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Another writing credit also goes to JOSH WHEDON, ya know the guy who’s responsible for things like *ahem* :

  • Toy Story
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Firefly
  • Angel
  • Serenity
  • Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  • The Cabin in the woods
  • The first two Avengers movies

Yea. That guy.

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The gangs all here

Listen, by no means am I saying Atlantis is a perfect movie, it has a few flaws. Some of the characters (including the villain) are bit one dimensional, and the climax starts pretty quickly. But I believe this movie deserves more than a 49% on rotten tomatoes. An animated movie with this much passion put into it, deserves a another look. In contrast to some of the mindless corporate garbage we get, this is absolutely a movie worth your time.

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