Not all Disney films are created equal. For every Lion King made, there’s a Home on the range that is just waiting to be released and leave audiences scatching their heads in befuddlement. You could argue that the Disney films from the late 1980s through to the mid 1990s showcased the best that the studio had to offer in 2D animation.
But the late 1990s and early first few years of the 2000s are played host to some of the most experimental films from the Disney vault. And when it came to telling the tale of Atlantis, Disney deviated pretty far from their usual formula. And what a blast it was.
1914: Milo Thatch, grandson of the great Thaddeus Thatch works in the boiler room of a museum. He knows that Atlantis was real, and he can get there if he has the mysterious Shephards journal, which can guide him to Atlantis. But he needs someone to fund a voyage.
His employer thinks he’s dotty, and refuses to fund any crazy idea. He returns home to his apartment and finds a woman there. She takes him to Preston B. Whitmore, an old friend of his Grandfathers. He gives him the shepherds journal, a submarine and a 5 star crew. They travel through the Atlantic ocean, face a large lobster called the Leviathan, and finally get to Atlantis. But does the Atlantis crew have a lust for discovery, or something else?
Just from a technical standpoint, Atlantis is a magnificent film. There is not a single scene present here that would bore your eyes. Everything, everything has motion here. Something as simple as drinking a glass of wine to doing yoga is just so beautifully animated in Atlantis. And it goes beyond that. I loved the core designs in this film, how wildly different the surface world was to the sunken city paradise of a civilization that once ruled the world. And when those concepts got applied to the characters, the results were astounding.
I don’t think Atlantis had a single character that felt out of place. You had Michael J Fox bringing a manic intensity and energy to his role as Milo Thatch, that shone through in the animation. James Garner was effortlessly charming and lethal as Rourke, a mercenary with plans of his own. And you can see that that smarmy attitude in the way he moves and acts in the film. I could go on about how Phil Morris probably never had an off switch when he portrayed doctor Joshua Strongbear Sweet, or how I Cree Summer won me over as the young at heart and intimidating Kida. This is a film which cast each and every single role perfectly, and it’s a pity that the late Jim Varney never got to see it before he passed away from lung cancer.
But it’s also not your average Disney film. It breaks away from the setup of previous films, and tells a great story first, one that doesn’t need musical numbers. It’s either action or story, and this works wonderfully in its favour. It’s also one of the more intense films amde by the company, with people dying constantly and comeuppances being brutal at time. This ain’t your average kids film, and there’s more than enough content to keep adults in line.
I can’t believe that this movie bombed at the box office when it first came out. It oozes charm, is sueprbly animated and just sparkles from the all the development and research that was sunk into it. It’s one film that deserves to be raised from the depths of the ocean floor of history.
Last Updated: September 4, 2013