1914: Milo Thatch, grandson of the great Thaddeus Thatch works in the boiler room of a museum. He knows that Atlantis was real, and he can get there if he has the mysterious Shephards journal, which can guide him to Atlantis. But he needs someone to fund a voyage. His employer thinks he's dotty, and refuses to fund any crazy idea. He returns home to his apartment and finds a woman there. She takes him to Preston B. Whitmore, an old friend of his Grandfathers. He gives him the shepherds journal, a submarine and a 5 star crew. They travel through the Atlantic ocean, face a large lobster called the Leviathan, and finally get to Atlantis. But does the Atlantis crew have a lust for discovery, or something else? Written by
The fish in Whitmore's aquarium are coelocanths. The coelocanth is a sort of "living fossil" in that they were thought to be extinct until specimens were caught in the 1930s, over 20 years after the film is set. See more »
During the campfire dinner, Cookie says that a caesar salad is on the menu. The movie is set in 1914 and the first Caesar Salad wasn't tossed until the 1920s. See more »
On Screen Text:
[the text that appears on screen]
"... in a single day and night of misfortune, the island of Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea." - Plato, 360 B.C.
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Disney, the film name that once stood for all things innocent and suitable for all ages, has finally started to realise that to survive it needs to become more diverse. Such diversity has been very apparent in the last couple of years. Films like "Tarzan" and "The Emperor's New Groove" have made an attempt to move away from the traditional song-driven routine of Disney's past and into new, uncharted territory. "Atlantis" is the boldest step yet, but we have to remember: This is STILL Disney. The first ever serious film to come out of Disney's animation studio is a major achievement for them - in fact it's so serious it makes it into PG territory. Perhaps why a lot of families were scared off from seeing it this past summer.
But despite the more mature subject matter, this is still a film that Disney wanted to draw in the families with, not just mature audiences, so the plot had to be kept simple enough for children to understand, but interesting enough to take it away from the realms of "The Little Mermaid" et al.
So what we get is actually a potentially detailed plot, unfortunately suffering the blow of being condensed into a 96-minute movie. Ultimately, this is an action film about Atlantis, not about the exposition preceding it, so we are whisked through the first half hour with as many sequences bombarding the screen as is possible without losing coherency. Suspend your disbelief of how the characters get from point A to point B so quickly, you're unlikely to find an animated film that detailed coming out of Hollywood! If you want epic levels of detail in the plot, turn to James Cameron's "Titanic". Both films feature a boat in some manner.
And let's talk about love, shall we? Yes, as with a lot of films, the lead male (one Milo Thatch, a bumbling archaeologist) and lead female (Kida, the clichéd Atlantian princess) are set to fall in love with each other. But what I found was not as clichéd as I was expecting. By film's end, for once, the characters touching/feeling/kissing sequence was far more subdued. There's various points in the film where the attraction grows, but it's just not in the ballpark of, say, "The Little Mermaid" (A good thing).
You may have grasped that this is a rather clichéd film. Correct. You have your leading hero and heroine, backed up by more than half a dozen crew members who go on the expedition, all being given their moments during the film. Numerous other characters appear, take up the few minutes of screentime, then disappear. It doesn't take a genius to do the maths a 96-minute film with a focus on action and visuals, and with a considerable cast, has very little time to expand the characters to any major extent. So what does it rely on? Clichés, and lots of them. Every character emulates something that has been done a thousand times before. You have the bumbling scientist, the attractive princess, the square-jawed colonel, the rich eccentric, the maniacal sleazebag, the Russian femme fatale need I go on?
I don't know why this got to anyone I found the tongue-in-cheek nature of this film quite amusing. Alright, this is meant to be a serious flick, but do you really expect Disney to give up every single trait of their history? At least the writers have tried to come up with consistently witty dialogue, and sometimes it even is a little inspired.
But in the end it's those big stunning visuals that put the icing on this cake. The CGI animation is truly amazing in places, and doesn't dwarf the characters, which was a flaw that let the recent "Titan A.E." down. Speaking of characters, Disney hired an outside comics industry artist to create the designs, bringing an anime style to the film. Infact the visual presentation of the film as a whole owes a lot to anime, much more so than any previous Disney outing. This resulted in a conflict with fans of the Japanese anime, "Nadia", for the film's overall similarities with said cartoon series. Having not seen this anime, I can't comment.
With picture, there is sound. Gary Rydstrom heads up the sound team, and what a soundtrack! From the opening shot the sound stage is alive and is a treat. James Newton Howard treats us to a dynamic musical score, which compliments the film in every way, never sounding out of place and always helping to build the tension or subdue it.
Perhaps I missed the point of what the creators intended. To me, the film conveys that it's an adventure thrill ride, albeit with a more serious tone than any Disney film before it. If you don't like the clichéd tongue-in-cheek attitude, then perhaps the effort that has been poured into the visuals will delight. Heck, at least the mythology is far more correct than can be said about other Disney efforts (*cough*Hercules*cough*).
This is a positive, 10 out of 10 review, from someone who was blown away by this film. I always suspend my disbelief with any animated film after all, the laws of the real world are more than frequently broken in the cartoon medium. So sit back, enjoy the ride, and perhaps everyone can find something to enjoy about this film.
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