Atlantis - The Lost Empire
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From the creative team who brought you THE LION KING and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST comes an exciting quest of adventure and discovery. Join the expedition and search below the sea for one of the greatest mysteries of all time ... ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE. The world's most highly qualified crew of archaeologists and explorers are led by historian Milo Thatch as they head deep into the mysteries of the sea. The underwater expedition takes an unexpected turn when the team's mission must switch from exploring Atlantis to protecting it. Filled with stunning visual effects, this captivating story is loaded with laughs and messages of friendship and teamwork. Dive into ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE -- it's an adventure your family will enjoy taking over and over again.|This is Disney's first 70 mm film since 1985's THE BLACK CAULDRON.|According to the writings of Philosopher Plato dating back to 360 B.C., "...in a single day and night of misfortune, the island of Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea."|The filmmakers turned to real-life linguistics expert Marc Okrand to create an original readable, speakable language for the film. Using a 29-letter alphabet, Okrand made up hundreds of Atlantean words for the actors to speak.|To prepare for the production, the filmmakers visited museums to study World War I-era clothing and machinery and toured old army installations to look at submarines and tanks. They also traveled 800 feet underground in New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns to observe the subterranean trails that would serve as the model for the approach to Atlantis in the film.|When creating the look of Atlantis, the filmmakers wanted to avoid the common conception of "Greek columns under the sea somewhere," says art director Dave Goetz. Instead, they modeled their Atlantis on the architecture of ancient civilizations in China, South America, and the Middle East.
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Taking place in 1914, Milo Thatch is an expert in cartography, but unfortunetly stuck working in the boiler room of a history museum. After failing to convince his curators to investigate some recent findings he believes will proove the existence of the lost kingdom of Atlantis, he is luckily hired an eccentric millionaire who was an old explorer buddy of his grandfather. Milo becomes part of an excavation team going in a totally ahead of its time submarine to find Atlantis, commanded by the opportunistic Rourke. Using an ancient journal, they track their way underwater to a tunnel that is supposed to lead to their goal, but they're attacked by a giant mechanical sea monster and have to abandon their submarine into smaller mini-subs. They manage to find a series of underground caverns, which eventually leads to the actual city of Atlantis. Milo and the others are shocked to discover that there is an actual living civilization of people there who can conveniently speak English. They are turned away by the xenophobic Atlantian king, but his daughter Kida(who is Disney's finest Princess, and the first black one!)befriends the nerdy-as-hell Milo, and together they manage to decipher where the mysterious power source that supports their society, and has kept them alive for the last few millenia. However, its revealed that Rourke and most of his team were really looking for the power source too, which is a mystic floating crystal, and after taking the king hostage, they make their way to the crystal chamber. Kida becomes infused with the crystal's powers, and Rourke makes off with her, leaving the king dying of a gunshot wound. Milo gets some of the remaning crew along with the other Atlanteans to go after them with some reactivated flying machines. After a pretty intense chase scene, they catch up with Rourke and stop him. The crystal is restored, and Kida becomes the new tribal leader. Milo decides to stay behind(who wouldn't want to spend eternity with a hot bikini babe?!)while the other explorers make it back to the surface with a bunch of treasure.
Atlantis was a serious step up from some of Disney's other action/adventure films. Granted, ones like Aladdin, The Black Cauldron, and Treasure Planet had decent elements of thrills & spills, but Atlantis went that extra couple of yards to make it real swashbuckling ride. There's a fine use of CGI along with traditional 2d Disney animation, although its one of the few ones they did in anamorphic widescreen which totally broadens the scope of visual experience for an underwater adventure. The movie also has one of the finest casts in a Disney film, with Michael J. Fox as Milo, James Garner as Rourke, veteran voice actress Cree Summer as Kida, Leonard Nimoy as the king, and Jim Varney in his last film role. If you passed on this film when it was in the theatres, make sure to catch it on DVD(and hopefully soon on Blu-Ray). Even though you can sorta skip on the sequal.