Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Main cast: Michael J Fox (Milo Thatch), Jim Varney (Jebidiah Allardyce "Cookie" Farnsworth), Corey Burton (Gaetan Moliere/The Mole), Claudia Christian (Helga Sinclair), James Garner (Commander Lyle T Rourke), John Mahoney (Preston B Whitmore), Phil Morris (Dr Joshua Sweet), Leonard Nimoy (King Kashekim Nedakh), Don Novello (Vincenzo "Vinny" Santorini), Jacqueline Obradors (Audrey Ramirez), Florence Stanley (Wilhelmina Bertha Packard), David Ogden Stiers (Fenton Q Harcourt), and Cree Summer (Princess Kidagakash)
Directors: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
Artistically, Atlantis: The Lost City is a triumph. A triumph as in it seduces me into enjoying this movie fabulously. It has atmosphere, it has action, and boy, it reminds me a lot of everything from Doyle's The Lost World to Verne's 20,000 Leagues Beneath The Sea. But it's not enough to draw into a lull that I can't overlook the slipshod plotting and lack of continuity.
The story is typically "geek gets hot chick", the fuel of many young nerdy boy's fantasies. What it is doing here instead of a B-grade horror movie or teen flick, I have no idea. Maybe they want to, er, "show that brains rule, brawns drool" or something. Then why not make the chick a nerd too?
Milo is the nerd in question. He is obsessed about Atlantis. He wants to prove it exists. He wants to study it, not excavate it for financial betterment. When his late father's friend Preston Whitmore organizes a trip to Atlantis, Milo is more than delighted to come along. The rest of the crew are... well, pretty much a ragtag team, but the only memorable characters are Vinny, a droll florist turned explosive expert, and Mrs Packard, who is everyone's evil granny nightmares come true. There's also a cute Mole-like guy, but he reminds me too much of that mole-like guy in Titan AE, a cartoon from Disney's rival, Dreamworks. Oops.
Of course, Milo discovers that Atlantis is not what it seems, and he wins over buxom hottie Princess Kidagakash ("Kida") in what seemed like a PG-13 version of skinny-dipping courtship (alas, no nudity and hot sex, and am I not sad to want these elements in an animated movie?). His colleagues turn out to be money-mad grubbers who want the money (surprise), but after Milo's rousing speech, only the non-cute characters remain baddies to be vanquished.
The action scenes are really good. The undersea voyage, the leviathan guardian of Atlantis, the final battle involving great vertical horizon, these scenes have infectious child-like exuberance in them that make me sit at the edge of my seat. But I don't understand some things, like what the heck this "lifeforce crystal deity" of Atlantis want Kida for? Why does this crystal return Kida safe and sound to Milo when it claims Kida's mother in the beginning of this movie? Why doesn't the crystal-possessed Kida fight the baddies, when it knows that its capture will destory Atlantis? Why is there so many loopholes in this plot, loopholes that I can drive a double-decker bus through?
Atlantis: The Lost Empire is good. But it's good in a stuff-myself-with-popcorns-as-I-gape sort of way. Plotwise, characterwise, upon even a little dissection, it falls to pieces. This movie is a popcorn movie masterpiece in every sense of the phrase.
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