Movie Review

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

MPAA Rating: PG for action violence

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
STAFF WRITER

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family Kids
Genre:
Animation Sci-Fi Adventure Family
Length:
1 hr. 33 min.
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
June 8, 2001
Relevant Issues
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
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About the worldwide Flood of Noah’s day—FAQs

Featuring: voices of Michael J. Fox, James Garner, Claudia Christian, Mark Hammill, Mark Hamill
Director: Kirk Wise, Gary Trousdale
Producer: Don Hahn, Kendra Halland
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures

Atlantis: The Lost Empire“Atlantis: the Lost Empire” is Disney’s early summer of 2001 attempt to take a familiar fable and bring it to the big screen. It is intended to be an animated/action-adventure film, so don’t go expecting to walk out of the theater singing their latest hit. “Atlantis” is clearly intended for an older audience (older children to adult) as the rating is PG and contains material inappropriate for younger viewers.

The story takes place in 1914. The look of the film is reminiscent of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” I enjoyed the character of Milo Thatch (voice of Michael J. Fox). Michael has already proven his voice talent in “Stuart Little.” In this story, Milo is desperately trying to get the museum he works for to sponsor another search for Atlantis. The museum laughs and mocks this young linguist’s dream. All seems hopeless until he is summoned by Preston Whitmore (voice of John Mahoney), an old friend of his grandfather. Whitmore presents him with an ancient notebook and offers to fund the discovery attempt. Rourke (voice of James Garner) and other ambitious adventurers join the trip. And the awkward band of misfits embarks.

Milo does reach Atlantis and meets Princess Kida (Cree Summer). She is hoping that this team of outsiders can rescue her dying world. The king (voice of Leonard Nimoy) objects to this plan. He wants to banish all outsiders.

“Atlantis” has its share of violence and narrow escape. The violence is comparable to that present in “The Lion King” and “Tarzan.” The animation is outstanding. That art form continues to expand and improve it’s boundaries. On the negative side, there is a sensuous woman in a suggestive dress used to entice Milo to visit Whitmore. Princess Kida is also shown in very revealing clothing. There is the usual name calling that is stereotypical of some adventure movies and some instances of using God’s name in vain.

My greatest objection is the high-powered promotion of crystals and ancestral worship in the film. It is presented in a very compelling way, proving to be dangerous to some who are not planted in the truth of Christ. Once they discover Atlantis, the theme of crystals almost completely takes over the plot. Parents should be warned and take note of this obvious theme.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out every film that was used like “cookie-cutters” in this story. It is a slightly above average afternoon matinee outing. I recommend this movie to only those parents that think all the “hype” is worth the risk and are prepared to deal with the obvious religious differences.


Viewer Comments
I was very anxious to see this movie, expecting spectacular underwater sequences. Though the animation was typical Disney quality, the movie was a terrible disappointment. What a BORE! There was no plot, no storyline. Even in a cartoon movie there needs to be a plot. In addition, all the women in the movie save the chainsmoking elderly character were portrayed as sexpots. It was particularly objectionable when one woman used overtly sexual mannerisms in approaching Milo about the expedition. Later, his Atlantian girlfriend was also scantily clad. Even the little Mexican mechanic had a chance to sashay her hips. Meanwhile, none of the men in the movie were scantily clad or behaved in an overtly sexual manner. Hmmm. Also, the violence was extreme for a Disney cartoon. There were several instances that would no doubt leave little one’s having nightmares. From the stand point of the Christian viewer, as with all Disney movies, don’t expect the Biblical point of view. it’s fantasy, and as such pushes the notion of power in crystals, etc. The most objectionable part for me was when the Atlantian woman walked on water! One last aside, I personally would like to see Disney use some “unknown” actors to do the character voices. Having Michael J. Fox speaking as Milo was just plain distracting! I wouldn’t recommend this movie unless you have a high tolerance for boredom.
My Ratings: [3½]
—Kelly D., age 44
I think that people should be told that this film is nothing more than a blatant copy of the Japanese anime series “Nadia-The Secret of Blue Water”. The people at Disney decided that money was more important than originality, so they ripped off that series and have passed it on as an original work. If you don’t believe me, then go to: www.oldcrows.net/Atlantis/
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Josh Johnson, age 20
Just to clear something up; Atlantis is NOT a rip-off of the Japanese anime series Fushigi no Umi no Nadia (a.k.a. Nadia and the Sea of Mystery a.k.a. Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water). A lot of people had been led to believe that it was before the movie opened, because there were several Web sites with one-on-one comparison charts between Nadia and Atlantis that were very misleading because they focused on a handful of similarities (a few of the similarities were legitimate, but most were exaggerated), while ignoring any context or importance in the overall stories, which are very different. Mark Hairston, who operates the oldest and most exhaustive English-language Nadia information site on the Web, has a long article which debunks point-by-point most of the claims made by the sites that made the allegations made by the Nadia vs. Atlantis sites at http://utd500.utdallas.edu/~hairston/atlantis.html For those of you that visited the link contained in one of the above messages for “proof” that Atlantis is a Nadia rip-off (www.oldcrows.net/Atlantis/), the day the movie opened, Michael Hayden, who wrote the page, admitted that it was all a hoax, an “experiment in propaganda”. After the movie opened, you won’t find too many anime fans on message boards or in anime newsgroups who would still claim that Atlantis is a rip-off of Nadia; not with a straight face at least. There’s a tiny bit of influence from the films of Hayao Miyazaki—Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke are quoted (in the film critic sense of the word “quoted”; which roughly means that the filmmakers copied specific shots that they liked)—but nothing from Nadia. As an anime fan, I’d have to say that Atlantis is a huge step in the direction I’d like to see Disney films go in the future. My only real problem with Atlantis was I get the feeling that Disney invoked the “90 minute rule”, 90 minutes being the maximum running time for a traditional Disney feature film. 90 minutes is more than enough time for the usual Disney mix of songs and celebrity-voiced comedic sidekicks, but Atlantis wasn’t your usual Disney film; it was much more of a straight adventure film and probably should have been at least 2 hours long. Watching Atlantis felt like I was watching only about 3/4ths of a film—I’m fairly certain that a lot of the film was left on the cutting room floor to keep it within 90 minutes. For a film about Atlantis, you really don’t see too much of it. An Atlantis TV series had been planned, but due to the mediocre box office performance of the film, the TV series has been scrapped, which is a shame since there was so much in the movie that could have been further developed.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Steve Brandon, age 26
I saw this movie with my youth leaders and a couple of the youth. The general feeling was that aside from the Pagan Diety stuff, the fact that the lead girl was NOT wearing enough clothes (I’m female, and I felt uncomfortable, especially for the guys with us), and that ideas from the Bible are woven in (Leviathan, Tower of Babel, etc) it was an okay movie. Probably not for children under that age of 11 or so though. The quality of movie making was good as was the language (I don’t recall any cuss words, but I wasn’t watching for them). There was one character that made at least one sexual comment, but it would go over the heads of children. All in all, I don’t think I would recommend this movie to anyone that would not be capable of knowing that it’s not real, and its just a messed up legend.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Carrot, age 18
I watched Atlantis to satisfy my curious nature for archeological discoveries. The movie was extremely action paced, with amazing graphics and an intelligent storyline. However, there was lots of things that I felt would terrify or disturb children. First, I detected one use of the Lord’s name in vain. Second, all the Atlantean girls, especially Kida, is dressed in amazingly teeny tiny bikini tops during the whole show, which always expose cleavage and supermodel type long legs. Quite disturbing. It was definitely meant to make them appear “sexy”. Third, the plot is so deep, I, being a 16 year old, had to slowly relive it through my mind afterward just to understand what I was actually seeing. For most kids it probably went right over their heads. Fourth, The plot has new age-greek mythology-ancestor worship all thrown into one gigantic Atlantean religion. These beliefs were basically the whole climax of the show—not good for new Christians or children trying to search for the Truth. There are some good parts about the show of course, like courage, sacrifice and the preservation of culture. The action was great and very intense. The main character, Milo, is a basic good guy. But all of the violance and the disturbing spirituality in this movie is what will remembered in viewer’s minds. Definitely NOT for kids under 10.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Nadia K, age 16
Why are so many critics praising this movie? Please, would somebody tell me what was good about this script?!? They tried to cram waaaayyy too much in this! Imagine you take a movie like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and cut out every frame where someone is not speaking, and nothing is getting blown up, and you’ve got a much shorter film that feels like Atlantis. The characters just rattle off their lines in rapid-fire staccato fasion, like machine guns. Ugh!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 1½]
—Timothy Blaisdell, age 37
I would warn Christians to be cautious about deciding to see this movie. I felt that it spent too much time dealing with the “religious” aspects of its storyline. There were a couple scenes that made me uncomfortable with their occultic content. The story spends a lot of time dwelling on the crystal power source of Atlantis. The crystal power is usually floating in the air, encircled by Aztec-like masks. It keeps Atlanteans alive and can heal wounds. This crystal power is the focus of several parts of the movie, including two where characters are swallowed up in the crystal energy and it harbors in them to protect itself (one of these scenes is quite long and eerie, preceded by the character bowing down to the crystal and speaking in the Atlantean language). In another scene the crystal power turns a character into a glowing blue form that is pretty weird looking. This movie is also rather violent for a Disney cartoon—not too bad for older kids, but I’d advise using caution for the younger ones. Also, one of the main characters is a skimpily-dressed Atlantean princess. In one scene the adventurers comment that in the book of Job in the Bible, it speaks of a leviathan (which in this movie guards the entrance to Atlantis) as breathing fire, but they then say that it’s probably not true and they give another explanation for it. There are a lot of elements in this movie that might well be objectionable to Christians—including a man practicing yoga, a couple suggestive lines/scenes, slightly crude jokes, one use of profanity, and the deeply-interwoven use of occultic elements which are presented as being “good.” I’d suggest that you carefully research this movie and pray about it before deciding to see it. There’s just too much of an occultic element for me to recommend it.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Anonymous, age 19
Come on Christians, lets not get too uptight. With all the stuff our kids get subjected to on tv, music, and other movies, this was a fun movie and a light movie. My kids and I enjoyed it a lot. This is science fiction, and not to be taken seriously. Crystals are just rocks after all. Parents, take your kids and have fun.
My Ratings: [Good / 4½]
—Scott Snyder, age 49
Disney has taken their penchant for occult magic and mixed in a whole bunch of eclectic religious symbols to make a spiritual stew that, well, smells sort of funny. Our heroine: 1) walks on water, 2) is transfigured into glory, 3) ascends upwards, 4) descends with light beams aplenty, 5) saves her people on return, and 6) lives in a world previously destroyed by water, and later by fire. All this is mixed into a depiction of Atlantis that looks like a weird cross between Mayan and Polynesian cultures, as well as Bablyonic totems and pagan death masks and new age karmic energy sources. The effect is, well, that it spiritually stinks. This is long way from the simple “magic spells” that used to set up plot-lines from Disney movies of yesteryear. Rather, it is in incessant assault to the spiritual senses that never lets up. You keep wondering, “How far will they GO with this?” On the lighter side, you get shades of TRON with luminous light-blue tracers over surfaces. And of course, the moral theme is that explorers are exploiters and ruin everything they touch. While the pace and action of this movie are not bad, the outrageously syncretistic vision of Atlantis is neither fair to the legend nor to the many religions whose elements have been blended into this unholy religious stew.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 3]
—Laura and Dean VanDruff, ages 30 and 40
…no profanity whatsoever, violence that is only implied and fantastic, no sex whatsoever but plenty of old fashioned romance. Atlantis is a animated pulp serial adventure in the style of the Rocketeer (for story) and Titan A.I. (for animation quality). Despite being made by Disney it lacks a great deal of the trademarks of that corporation in playing with traditional myths, animals that can talk, and even musical numbers with the score being rather haunting melodies with no lyrics meant to enhance the acting and not replace it. The story follows Milo Thatch, a Smithsonian employee (he runs the boiler despite being a genius) and his millionaire backed crew in their quest for the mythical lost continent of Atlantis which isn’t as uninhabited as they’re studies first led them to believe. I dare not give away too much of the story but the dangers in finding Atlantis and surviving it once there are both external and internal as the story for once offers difficult and real moral choices for the characters. The motivations of the individuals include science for its own sake, the elevation of their own culture from a low point to a high point, base greed, preservation of traditions, and friendship. The choices are neither easy nor are they wrapped up without great cost but I am proud to say I can admire the decisions of the characters onscreen and find nothing that I would not be happy for my children to observe or question. Questions that Atlantis might contain some “New Age” or other occult influence are completely unfounded as all “magic” is strictly scientific in origin.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Charles Phipps, age 20
I’ve seen most of the theater-grade animated movies, and I’d say that Atlantis is excellent in terms of overall quality. There was a fair amount of action toward the end—a lot of fighting which would be too intense for younger children. My 9—and 12-year-old boys enjoyed it a lot, but I don’t think I’d take any kid younger than 7 to this. it’s more of an older-kid movie, and is heavy in drama. The music was excellent, and the animation so good that I’d rate it “tops” in the number of awesome, stunning scenes depicted. Plot twists were plenty, with plenty of suspense. A significant number of people in the original expedition are killed by various mishaps along the way, but all of this is non-graphic—submarines exploding, etc.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Geoffrey Bard, age 39
From the previews, I had the idea that this movie would be slightly New Age. I initially thought it was stupid. Nevertheless, I went to see it with some friends. Atlantis turned out to be very well scripted and animated. There was a nice balance of action and seriousness within the characters. The Atlantian woman was NOT dressed “sultry” in any way. You can see MUCH worse on any soap opera or television show. I would take any child to see it. Atlantis was a pleasant surprise. I will be back to visit it.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Netanya Shull, age 18
Movie Critics
…keeps the action moving, but plays like a Saturday morning cartoon. …Some sequences may be too intense for the very young.
—Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
…C+ …the essence of craft without dream…
—Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
…The song-and-dance numbers are out. The cheery sidekicks are nowhere to be seen. The predictable villains in black are nonexistent…
—Max Messier, FilmCritic.Com
…When it moves, the film is wildly exciting, recalling the great adventure films of the past. When it’s funny, it’s outstandingly so. It doesn’t have the emotional punch of, say, “Beauty and the Beast,” but the overall combination of humor and thrills makes up for whatever it lacks in the gooey department…
—eFilmCritic.com
…its rich in exotic atmosphere and top loaded with high adventure, soaring music and impressive widescreen visuals. it’s a summer movie that delivers on breathtaking images and the sheer excitement…
—Dennis Willis, SoundWavesTV
…3½ stars… a lot of gusto and a wowser of a climax. …rousing in an old pulp science fiction sort of way…
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…Who knew Atlantian princesses were so hot? …too many gun battles… not so see-worthy after all.…
—E! Online
…We see a sultry woman in a slinky dress exposing cleavage and long legs… A woman is seen in native Atlantian dress—which is like a bikini top and a skirt that is slit to the hip. A woman removes her skirt to swim revealing a small bikini-type bottom…
—Kids-in-Mind