Atlantis The Lost Empire 2001 Movie Scene The underwater city of Atlantis thriving under water

Atlantis: The Lost Empire [2001]

You probably know the story of the lost island of Atlantis. A story that’s been going around for centuries without a clear answer whether it is true or not. Atlantis: The Lost Empire uses it as a basis for a beautifully animated and ambitious adventure movie like no other. Taking place in 1912 it exudes that daring spirit of the early 20th century. This is a time when myths felt real and explorers ventured far and wide in search of glory. In that sense, it reminds me a bit of Laika’s stop-motion masterpiece Missing Link. Apart from the intriguing story, we also have stunning visuals.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire features a hybrid animation style that blends CGI with traditional animation. This means we get those exciting action scenes plus the charming static ones. A number of movies experimented with this style of animation during the late 90s and early 2000s. Most notable examples include Tarzan (1999) and Treasure Planet (2002). I know that in today’s world, these movies may look antiquated but I love their unique visual style. It also focuses the viewer’s attention on the dialogue and characters, not trying to dazzle them with breathtaking CGI scenes.

We will be following Milo, a linguist, and cartographer determined to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become a great adventurer. And where’s a will, there’s a way. That spirit of adventure is the thing I admired the most about this movie. It feels exciting, charming, and, above all, entertaining. And since we do not get a lot of these movies, we need to cherish the ones we already have. We will use strange vehicles to get to even stranger places with delightfully memorable characters. Compared to them, Milo will seem like an ordinary guy although he’s the lead.

Nobody wanted to hear what Smithsonian Institution employee Milo had to say about Atlantis. Nobody but quirky millionaire Preston B. Whitmore, who decides to fund his expedition to the lost continent of Atlantis. Before he sets off on this adventure, he will need to meet his team comprised of only the best people in their fields led by ruthless Rourke and dashing Helga. Their journey begins in a submarine Ulysses and they won’t have to wait long to get into trouble. However, if they work as a team, might just make it to the mysterious lost continent of Atlantis in one piece.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is not just a movie for kids and stoners. It’s a movie that everyone can enjoy and love. The cast is absolutely stellar led by none other than Michael J. Fox. Plus we get Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, what more to want? Perhaps a character as fascinating as Mr. Moliere or Sweet or Cookie? And since this is an animated movie, you can count on a short running time of 80 minutes and excellent pacing. You should also know there’s a straight-to-video sequel Atlantis: Milo’s Return that’s also watchable.

Finally I just want to briefly touch upon certain thought-provoking issues that might be considered spoilers. So, if you don’t want to know about them you should skip the following few sentences. When I said that Atlantis: The Lost Empire exudes that spirit of the past, it exudes it in its entirety. And this means we will have to deal not just with the colonial past, which includes the complete disregard for the natives but also the brutal robbing of them. The destruction of national treasures and symbols, followed by, for a Disney movie, unusually bleak fighting.

Something you won’t see in their modern cultural appropriation animated movies like Encanto, Raya and The Last Dragon, Moana, Coco, and Soul. Things have definitely changed and I just want to point out that this doesn’t mean these movies are bad. It’s just you have to look at them in their entirety.

Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

Writers: Tab Murphy, Kirk Wise, Gary Trousdale

Cast: Michael J. Fox, Leonard Nimoy, Corey Burton, Claudia Christian, James Garner, Phil Morris

Fun Facts: The Atlantean language was created by the same guy who created the Vulcan and Klingon languages, Marc Okrand.


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