ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE
Two Disc Collector's Edition
Review by Michael Jacobson
Michael J. Fox, James Garner, Cree Summer, Don Novello, Phil Morris,
Corey Burton, Claudia Christian, Jacqueline Obradors, Jim Varney, Florence
Stanley, Leonard Nimoy
Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Walt Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 96 Minutes
Release Date: January 29, 2002
supper will be baked beans. Musical
program to follow. Who wrote
one hand, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a welcome change of pace from most
of Disney’s animated fare. There
are no cute animals, no bombastic songs, and no fairy tales, even though it
comes from the same directors who made the Oscar nominated Beauty and the
Beast. Instead, they’ve created an animated film for the older kids
and up…ones that probably appreciate what Japan has been doing in anime for a
few decades. It’s more of a
throwback to the great Disney live action adventure pictures than any cartoon
movies in its past.
the other hand, what the movie misses is good strong characters and a solid
story to go along with its visual flair. I
give the movie a somewhat hesitant three stars because of how incredible it is
to look at, and how masterfully well many of the best segments have been done,
but I’d be false if I didn’t say the movie didn’t leave me a little cold
about some crucial points.
didn’t have a problem with the new mythology of Atlantis, or the way the city
or its residents looked. In fact, I
found the movie’s overall visual style to be an unqualified triumph.
The setting is 1914, a year before the first filmed version of 20,000
Leagues Under the Sea would be released, and I’ll be darned if the
designers and animators didn’t give Atlantis the appearance of some of
the earliest comic books. The characters are all strikingly drawn with generous bits of
exaggeration, the angles and POVs are all reminiscent of comic panels, and the
over-the-top action sequences are fresh out of the pages of the most heroic
too bad neither the characters nor the story were worthy.
You’ll never think of Milo Thatch as Milo Thatch, but as Michael J.
Fox, whose recognizable voice dominates the empty shell of a character
shamelessly. The ragtag group of
adventurers fare no better, making up a comic sub-cast mix of races, sexes and
ages, but without a single one breaking out of one-dimensional mode.
Even the plotline, which starts out as a quest for the legendary lost
city, ends up with a forced and frankly unnecessary sense of conflict created
from one of the biggest clichés possible in this kind of picture.
Walt Disney would have certainly approved the technological advancements of this
movie, the experimental visual style and the overall design and layout, with
him, character and story always came first. If you have good character and story, it can salvage a
picture with less than spectacular production values.
It’s not so easy the other way around.
overall, I enjoyed Atlantis for what it had to show me, and not for what
it had to tell me. A couple of days
after viewing the movie, I barely remembered any of the characters at all, which
is a bad sign to me. I didn’t
have any problem, however, remembering my favorite sequences, which didn’t
depend on who was in them rather than what was being shown.
On that level, at least, the picture works.
stunning…this anamorphic transfer boasts a digital-to-digital reproduction,
and it’s gorgeous. Images are
sharp and crystal clear throughout, and the wide array of colors come across
beautifully and truthfully, with no distortions or bleedings. Several sequences are an all out visual assault of motion and
changing color and light schemes; don’t look for blemishes in them, they all
work perfectly. Reference quality
all the way.
your pick of 5.1 tracks and sit back…this is an incredible audio experience.
There are plenty of action sequences that will keep your system’s
processors running hot, sending action in multiple directions, but always with
smooth crossovers and pans. An
underwater chase sequence and the triumphant finale will center you right in the
crux of the action. Dialogue is
always cleanly rendered, as is the majestic musical score.
Dynamic range is strong, and the .1 channel offers plenty of punch.
A superb effort!
double disc Collector’s Edition is a triumph…Disc One starts with choice of
audio or video commentary from directors Trousdale and Wise and producer Don
Hahn…in video mode, they occasionally break away from the movie to show you
storyboarding sessions, meetings, concept drawings, and others before taking you
back to where you left off…if you don’t want that, just listen to the audio
commentary, which is detailed and entertaining. This disc also features a DisneyPedia on the fact and fiction
and mythology of Atlantis, some of which was used in the film, some not.
Two has three ways to navigate…I recommend starting with “tour”, which is
a 2 hour making of documentary. After
that, you can go into “explore” or “file” mode to find even more
detailed information. Each section
contains it’s own segment of the making-of film, plus more to peruse.
Under these sections, you have an interactive version of the Shepherd’s
Journal, and a “How to Speak Atlantean” segment on the very real dialect and
alphabet created for the movie. There
are four deleted scenes (some of which are most impressive), an original
treatment, galleries on design, style, characters and more, a look at the
voiceover actors, digital production and tests for effects, vehicles and more,
and even virtual tours of CG models.
in all, a most impressive offering!