The first thing I thought when I saw an ad for Atlantis: The Lost Empire was, “Wow, this looks similar to Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water.” Nadia was an anime TV series which started airing in 1990 in Japan, itself also based on the legends surrounding the lost city of Atlantis, as well as parts of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. Disney released this film about 10 years later in 2001, so there could definitely have been some influence.
The film follows Milo, a scientist with crazy ideas about being able to find Atlantis based on some ancient writings. This part reminded me a bit of Daniel Jackson in the Stargate film, and I am not the only one who noticed this. But, also as others have mentioned, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is not simply a rehash of these possible influences.
I was not enamored of the character designs, but I did enjoy the background and scenic look of the film. Disney’s artists spent a lot of time giving this film a more realistic look than other films from the same era, and this lent itself to a solid base on which to build the rest of the work. Each of the characters had their own motives for being where they were and doing what they did, beyond the simplistic “it’s in the script” which is, unfortunately, used all too often.
The music score for Atlantis: The Lost Empire was interesting and worked well with the film. It was not particularly memorable to me, however, and the song “Where the Dream Takes You” was pretty standard fare and not inspiring. It felt almost like a song I would hear in a piano lounge, with its soft, contemporary beats and dulcet tones from Mýa. She has a very nice voice, but I don’t think the song fit very well into the time period of the film.
I thought Michael J. Fox did a good job playing Milo. He has just the right amount of loveable goofiness about him to pull off an ignored and brilliant young scientist. I have always been a fan of James Garner, and he was spot-on as the pompous Lyle Tiberius Rourke. I enjoyed Claudia Christian as Helga Sinclair; she put just the right amount of edge into her character, while balancing it with a hidden, soft, caring side. And our beloved Leonard Nimoy, who recently passed away, skillfully played the part of Kashekim Nedakh, Kida’s father and the King of Atlantis.
In the end, the film was a great adventure, if a bit dark for the marketed audience. If this wasn’t a Disney animated film, it would likely have received a PG-13 rating due to some of the violent content. Still, I enjoyed Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and I will enjoy it into the future, too.
Release Date: June 15, 2001 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some social drinking and smoking)
Sexuality: 1 (some mild innuendo, some revealing clothing)
Violence: 3 (some intense violence, apocalyptic scenes, attempted murder, murder, explosions, gun fights, death)