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Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) starstarstar

Reviewed 2001-06-23
: This one I had to see on the big screen. Sometimes I allow myself to have a little fun. Movies seem to be the cheapest option and cartoon (or "animated," if you must) films are the least intellectually taxing. But this was a Disney Second Look Reviewfilm. Who? Me watch a Disney film? As Disney films go, this was unusual. Where were the songs? Where was the goofy sidekick? The only thing making Atlantis: The Lost Empire recognizable as a Disney film was the political correctness! Otherwise, it was above average. It starts off with the quote from Plato (360 BCE), which is actually the only reference to Atlantis in any literature anywhere -- and it was used by Plato himself as a parable, a fiction created to prove a point. But this movie treats Atlantis as fact. So be it: I was along for the ride, anyway.

There was action, adventure, and even a love interest in this story, set in 1913, of a boiler repairman, Milo Thatch (voice of Michael J. Fox), who leads an determined and mostly corrupt crew of explorers, financed by an aged millionaire (voice of John Mahoney), to find the Atlantis. There he finds their world is dying because they have forgotten how to read the repair manual that Milo has thoughtfully brought with him -- and which only Milo can read. Milo is handed the keys to the kingdom by the dying king (voice of Leonard Nimoy), meets and falls in love with the beautiful Princess Kida (voice of Cree Summer) (the princess is always beautiful, of course), and is betrayed by the military commander of the explorers (voice of James Garner), who is interested only in plunder. The film is suitable for children, but I enjoyed it, too.

The cast never appears on-screen, but as I'm a V/O professional myself, I thought it important to get a look at the faces behind the voices. Fortunately, Disney facilitated this on its official Website. I have just one more question before I shut up about Atlantis: If their civilization is so advanced, how come they're not a democratic republic? There always seems to be some wise, benevolent king in charge of things in these fantasy cities. Historically speaking, that is a fantasy!

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Ronald Bruce Meyer is a freelance reviewer.