Atlantis is waiting...
While Disney's Pearl Harbor has critics running for
cover, I think most of them will have good things to say about Atlantis.
Atlantis is refreshing because its a family movie that avoids coming
across as a morality tale. Foremost, Atlantis is an imaginative
Our film begins with a quotation: "...in a single day and night of
misfortune, the island of Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the
sea." -- Plato, 360 B.C.
In my eighteen hours of college philosophy, I must have missed that one.
Then again, I was a lousy student. Let's just say that my GPA doesn't
appear anywhere on my resume'. But, I digress.
The movie quickly plunges us into action with a flashback of Atlantis'
demise. A giant tidal wave crashes through the outer shield of the city.
Mysteriously, the queen leaves her daughter and ascends into the sky.
The king and the princess take shelter as the city is enveloped by the
ocean. I liked the fact that we aren't spoon fed anything. The secrets
of Atlantis' advanced technology and the civilizations decline is never
answered until the film's conclusion.
Flash forward roughly 2,300 years to 1914 A.D. Nerdy linguist Milo
(Michael J. Fox) believes he has uncovered the location of the lost
city. A friend of Milo's late grandfather bankrolls the expedition (like
Jurassic Park, sparing no expense). A formidable team is assembled
headed by Commander Rourke (James Garner). Garner is 73-years-old, but
his voice is as strong as ever. The rest of the crew includes an icy
blond, a kind-hearted doctor, a French demolition man, a tough woman
engineer, an odd-ball geologist, a lousy cook (the late Jim Varney in
his last role) and a lazy secretary.
Despite the early influx of characters, the movie focuses on action. The
party immediately encounters the outer defense of Atlantis: a terrific
mechanical sea monster that has littered the ocean floor with hundreds
of boats that lucklessly wandered too near the lost city.
The remainder of the movie is a wondrous travelogue that only animation
can provide. When the expedition finally reaches their destiny, the
movie provides us with eye-catching scenery and extraordinary aliens. I
was impressed with the artistry and voice work of Atlantis' Princess
Kida (Cree Summer). Perhaps the greatest performance comes from gravelly
throated Leonard Nimoy as father King Nedakh.
Some will wonder about the coincidence that Atlantis features the voices
of Fox (with Parkinson's Disease), septuagenarians Garner and Nimoy and
a man dying of cancer (the late Varney). I don't believe that any of the
casting arose from sentimentality, but from the Atlantis filmmaker's
sincere desire to find the best actors for the job. If there was an
ulterior motive, it hardly matters because everyone involved performs
Criticisms? Hardly any really. The Hispanic engineer seems poorly drawn
compared to the rest of the characters. Her lines are hard and she has
strange, puffy lips. And, why would she be wearing bell-bottom jeans in
1914? She looks like she belongs in Speed Racer. Our villain is also
disappointing. He's appropriately threatening, but he's too obvious.
I think older kids will enjoy Atlantis (and perhaps the wee ones). Big
kids like me certainly will. Disney proves with Atlantis that the mouse
is still the king of animation.