Atlantis, the Lost Empire
Review by Susu and the Wraith6
Directors: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
Producer: Don Hahn
Rating: Victory Super Star Destroyer
This is not quite your standard Disney movie. In fact, some people didn't like it precisely because it didn't really follow the expected patterns that Disney is often criticized for. However, it was a fun and great movie.
We were really really surprised at the voice talent. No mention was made as to who played whom, and we were unaware that any major talent would be featured. Yet, you can see the list is impressive, and everyone was perfect for the role, no matter how big or small.
The story goes like this: grandson of a great archeologist hopes to live up to his grandfather's dreams. However, the grandfather, Thaddeus Thatch, was derided in his lifetime for his belief that Atlantis was a real place. He made it his life's work to locate evidence of its existence, and for that, he was ridiculed, treated as insane, and made a laughing stock. The man worked for the Smithsonian Institution, where compliance is required in order to get funding for such an expedition. He died a broken man.
The devoted and adoring grandson, Milo Thatch, also works for the Smithsonian, and is sequestered in a basement office as "The Department of Cartography and Linguistics." In truth, he was hired because he can make the boiler work properly in the large building. But Milo, the scientist, wants to fulfill his grandfather's dream, and seeks year after year the funding to go looking for this elusive evidence. The Smithsonian's Board of Directors resorts to trickery to avoid hearing his presentations and pleas yet again.
Downtrodden and dejected, unable to even resign his position without being made fun of, Milo returns to his apartment to find the power out and a beautiful, mysterious woman offering an intriguing proposal he couldn't refuse. Through a series of interesting (yet believable) bets and gambles, Milo ends up re-discovering Atlantis, and finds that its alive and kicking, after nearly a millenium. With the innocence of a scholar ("with your diminished physique and high forehead, you could be good for nothing else"), Milo befriends the illiterate Kida, the Atlantean royal princess, and the two discover information about the lost continent.
Of course, there is a really bad guy, looking to steal the power source that has kept Atlantis alive and youthful for all the years, and sell it to the highest bidder (for period reference, the world's great evil at this time is the Kaiser, which made me think of a sandwich bun with too many burnt onion bits). A really daring rescue ensues, one including gliders, big guns, betrayal, air balloons, chains, a bone saw, and flying fish. And there really is a happily ever after for ALL the good guys.
This movie breaks a bit from Disney tradition, in that there is no real coming of age for the hero or heroine, the characters who help Milo are not mice or other animals (perhaps except for the funny and mysterious Mole, their expedition geologist), death and some violence are actually shown, and the subject matter is deeper than the normal Disney fodder. Of course there is at its core the virtues of right and wrong, settling bets, and respect for all, whether machine or supernatural. There are also nods to other movies, both Disney and not, including the appearance of part of Darth Vader's costume, Medusa's pets from The Little Mermaid, a submersible worthy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and every dogfight ever seen (including the battles in Star Wars!).
It is a great "family" movie, and we watched it with friends who are Goth bikers, Ford truck owners, Geologists, D&D players, and appreciators of the recipes found on Hut Cuisine. We all liked it, and overall, gave it an average rating of Victory-class Star Destroyer. The voting went from Interceptor to SSD, with no abstentions!