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Reviewed February 11th, 2002 by Brian White


I approached Atlantis - The Lost Empire with pretty low expectations, as the film was greeted with relative apathy upon its release last summer. To me, it seemed that the latest Disney animated feature wasnít inspiring the masses so there must have been something wrong with it. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this great movie when I watched the newly released DVD.

Atlantis is really great action adventure movie, that just happens to be animated as well. Youíre probably wondering how much action there can be in a Disney cartoon. In what must be a departure, Disney has actually upped the action bar by injecting a much-needed sense of urgency into many of the action sequences. Yes, people die. There is real danger. Itís not too much for older kids.

Atlantis is obviously inspired by the Indiana Jones movies. In the early part of the last century, Milo Thatch is a bookish anti-hero who works in the boiler room at the Smithsonian Institute. He dreams of following in his grandfatherís footsteps and going on an expedition to find Atlantis. Disney fate kicks in, and a wealthy, former friend of Miloís grandfather invites him to join a major trek to the Lost Empire.

So the tone of the film is very much Indiana Jones, but the visuals are more than could be achieved in the Raiders movies (until, Indy 4, I hope). Given the freedom of animation, this is a great action adventure. Speaking of the visuals, Atlantis has a very interesting style. First of all there is the science fiction, from the mindset of the early 1900ís. There is a real Jules Vern atmosphere to the technology, especially the big submarine. Also, there is a very stylish (donít ask me which style), gritty look to the soldiers, when they put on their gas masks and helmets. The animation looks like something out of the forties, combined with very modern techniques. Which brings me to the CGIÖ In other recent Disney flicks, the CGI stuck out like a sore thumb. In Atlantis, a combination of the thematic and technical use of the computer generated animation makes it perfect for this movie.

The voice acting is really top notch. Michael J. Fox is great as Milo, James Garner is a formidable enemy, Father Guido Sarducci is excellent voicing the explosives expert. Leonard Nimoy voices the Atlantian king.

How does the disc look? Atlantis is presented in 2.35:1, anamorphic widescreen. This is very different for an animated picture. The transfer is quite good for the most part. There is a little jaggedness evident on Miloís round glasses from time to time, and I swear there is a little blurriness here and there. I donít know if the blurriness is intentional. Colors are quite vibrant. A full-screen version of the film is also available on the disc.

The audio mix for this film is very dynamic and satisfying. The sound design is reminiscent of Star Wars. When vehicles start up, and fly around, youíd swear you were hearing X-Wings, and Pod Racers. There are plenty of surround effects to punctuate this fun movie.

For extras, thereís a little feature on the Atlantian language, a bit about 3D models, an unused prologue for the film, and an audio commentary by the filmís two directors: Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, and producer Don Hahn. This commentary is the best of both worlds, as you get some really interesting technical conversation, along with some thematic discussion. There is a feature-packed 2-disc Collectorís edition available for this film, but the commentary on this disc really makes the single-disc edition worth while. Menus are cool, but the disc is a little difficult to navigate.


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