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Atlantis: The Lost Empire

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Starring: Michael J. Fox, James Garner
Director: Gary Trousdale
Rated: PG
RunTime: 88 Minutes
Release Date: June 2001
Genres: Animation, Kids, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Cree Summer, Leonard Nimoy, Don Novello, Claudia Christian, Jacqueline Obradors, John Mahoney, Jim Varney, David Ogden Stiers

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

Disney dives into summer as an inexperienced young explorer follows his grandfather's long-lost journal on a mission to find the legendary island of Atlantis. It's 1914 when a nerdy linguist named Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox) is recruited to "advise" an expedition on the Ulysses, a state-of-the-art submarine under a gruff military Commander (James Garner), his cool assistant (Claudia Christian) and a motley crew that includes an explosives expert (Don Novello), a flippant mechanic (Jacqueline Abradors), a crusty cook (the late Jim Varney), a fast-talking doctor (Phil Morris), a zany geologist known as The Mole (Corey Burton), and a cranky, chain-smoking communications op (Florence Stanley). Milo thinks it's going to be all "discovery, teamwork and adventure," but they're a Jules Verne-like "Dirty Dozen." En route, their most memorable encounter is with the ferocious Leviathan, a mechanical, lobster-like sea-serpent, who shreds their sub. Then, after surviving some fiery flies, they meet the Atlanteans who are in the midst of a "crystal" crisis, losing their mystical source of power and healing. Romance sparks between Milo and Princess Kida (Cree Summer), much to the dismay of her father (Leonard Nimoy) and there's a treacherous twist from the mercenary Commander. Directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise opt for a non-traditional approach - no songs, no cutsey animal sidekicks. Instead, they're into the courageous derring-do, solidly punctuated by James Newton Howard's music.

The flat characters pale in comparison with the flashy, eye-catching action and it's best to just ignore some of the obvious plot loop-holes. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Atlantis" surfaces with an imaginative, spectacular 7. Another triumph for Disney animation.

Copyright 2001 Susan Granger

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