Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

in Movies & TV Shows3 months ago


It's one of those movies that I know I watched but had very little memory of. So Beyond a few things, it felt like I was watching this movie for the first time. And while I recall finding it overall boring as a kid, watching it again I think I enjoy it a lot more now than I did when I was younger.

Milo, a researcher at the museum, is a bit of a laughing stock for insisting Atlantis was a real place. He wants to follow in his grandfather's footsteps and finally discover the lost ruins. An old acquaintance of his grandfather contacts him, and he is finally able to set off on a journey to Atlantis. He joins the same crew his grandfather traveled with to discover the Shepherd's Journal, which has the knowledge to lead the group to Atlantis. It's a pretty basic idea, the rest of the crew besides Milo are just in this for the money, and of course, the main idea is finding the power source behind Atlantis. It's a pretty basic 'evil guy tries to steal ancient civilizations power ignoring the consequences' style of story. There is pretty much no twist too obvious for this movie.

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There is also an issue with most of the characters being a bit flat. There are some funny bits, like the guy who is obsessed with explosives wants to open a flower shop, and other funny gags, but pretty much all of the characters are one-note. The movie does make up for it by hitting that note with everyone very well, and because of that, they do start to feel like a cohesive group. The only characters who really come to life, however, are Milo and Kida. Kida is the princess of Atlantis and is easily my favorite part of the movie. I'm going to need to get into some minor spoilers as to why, so be warned going forward.

Atlantis is a society that is likely going to crumble. Their written language has been lost to them as it was forbidden by their king. Milo is a professional Linguist, so when he shows up he's the only one able to read the inscriptions around the city. The spoiler I mentioned is you learn the power was sealed away is the King had used the power source as a weapon of war, but lost control of its power and destroyed most of Atlantis, the current city underwater is all that is left of the empire. The king acts in fear of the power, whereas the villain of the movie is more than happy to hand that same power off to the highest bidder.

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If there is a theme to this movie, it's that knowledge itself has no tendency towards good or evil. That is where Milo and Kida come in, as a foil to both the fear of the king and the hubris of the villain. And it's here that the movie manages to win me over from being just a dull movie with some fun jokes to being something I'm glad I sat down to rewatch. It does a really good job handling the themes because you get to see firsthand both the good and bad that comes with this power. From the terror wreaked by the Leviathan to the healing properties of the crystals, the power source of Atlantis is just as capable of good as it is evil. At the same time, Atlantis can't survive if it just lives in perpetual fear of power.

The other great thing about the movie is there are a lot of fantastic visuals. It is a great showcase of how good CG can look in an animated film when done properly. The action is all fantastic, there are some really good visual gags, and just from a visual style it does a great job and making Atlantis look distinct from the outside world. I'm a bit surprised I don't see this movie brought up that often when people talk about animations that just look great.

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All that said, I can't quite call this a classic among Disney's library. The great visuals and themes do a lot to make it worthwhile, but that isn't enough to completely cover up the bland story and most of the cast. I do recommend watching it, and I don't think you'll regret it at all, but it's not something that is going to really stick itself into your memory.

Also, between Jane and Kida have I been unfairly sleeping on some of Disney's best girls? I think I have been.

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