Atlantis: The Lost Empire

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Directed byGary Trousdale
Kirk Wise
Screenplay byTab Murphy
David Reynolds (uncredited)
Story byTab Murphy
Gary Trousdale
Kirk Wise
Bryce Zabel
Jackie Zabel
Joss Whedon (Treatment)
Produced byDon Hahn
StarringSee Cast
Edited byEllen Keneshea
Music byJames Newton Howard
Distributed byBuena Vista International
Release dates
  • June 3, 2001 (2001-06-03) (Premiere)
  • June 15, 2001 (2001-06-15) (US)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$90–120 million[1][2][3]
Box office$186,053,725[3]

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a 2001 American animated movie made by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 40th movie in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series and the first science fiction movie for Disney. It follows a group of mercenaries on a quest to find the lost city of Atlantis. Released on June 15, 2001, it did not make much money as the company wanted. Disney stopped making both a spin-off television series and an underwater attraction at its Disneyland theme park.

Plot[change | change source]

In ancient times, a giant tidal wave threatens to submerge the island city of Atlantis. During a mass evacuation of the city, the queen of Atlantis is ingested by the "Heart of Atlantis", a giant crystal protecting the city, leaving behind her daughter Kida (Cree Summer) and her husband Kashekim (Leonard Nimoy).

Thousands of years later, in 1914, Milo J. Thatch (Michael J. Fox), a nerdy linguist and cartographer at the Smithsonian Institution, who is marginalized for his research on Atlantis, believes he has found the "Shepherd's Journal", an ancient book which supposedly contains directions to the lost city, but his proposal to search for it is turned down by the museum board. Milo later encounters the seductive Helga Sinclair (Claudia Christian), who introduces him to Preston Whitmore (John Mahoney), an eccentric millionaire who had previously funded a successful expedition to find the journal to repay a debt to Milo's grandfather, and recruits Milo to lead an expedition to Atlantis as soon as he deciphers it.

The expedition departs for Atlantis, led by Commander Rourke (James Garner), who also led the search for the journal, and a team of specialists including Vinny (Don Novello), an Italian demolition expert, Audrey (Jacqueline Obradors), a Latino mechanic, Mrs. Packard (Florence Stanley), a grouchy radio operator, Dr. Sweet (Phil Morris), a black medical officer, and Cookie (Jim Varney), a mess cook. The crew sets off on the Ulysses, a giant submarine, but are soon attacked by the Leviathan, a robotic lobster-like sea monster, guarding the entrance to Atlantis. The Ulysses is destroyed, but Milo, Rourke and part of the crew escape and make their way to a cavern, which the journal describes as the entrance to the city.

After travelling through a network of caves and a dormant volcano, the team reach Atlantis where they are greeted by Kida, who is actually over eight-thousand years old, but resembles a young woman, and discover that the Atlantean language is the basis for many existing languages. Kida enlists Milo's help in decoding the Atlantean language, which has been long forgotten by the natives. By swimming deep within the city's submerged ruins, and translating underwater murals, he discovers that the Heart of Atlantis provides the city with power and extends their lives through the crystals worn around their necks; he is surprised that this isn't mentioned in the journal, but upon examination realises a page is missing.

Returning to the surface with Kida, Milo discovers Rourke has the missing page. Rourke and the crew betray Milo, revealing they intend to bring the crystal to the surface world to sell off. Rourke fatally wounds the king while trying to extract information about the crystal's whereabouts, but finds its location for himself, hidden under the throne room. The crystal merges with Kida, and Rourke and the mercenaries lock her in a crate and prepare to leave, knowing that the Atlanteans will be killed when the crystal is gone. Milo calls his friends out for betraying their consciences and ultimately they join his side, and remain in Atlantis. As the king succumbs to his wounds, he tells Milo the crystal has developed consciousness, and when Atlantis is threatened, it will find a royal host. As he dies, he gives Milo his crystal and tells him to save Kida and Atlantis. With the encouragement of Sweet, Milo., the crew and the Atlanteans team up to stop Rourke.

During a massive battle inside the volcano, Helga and the mercenaries are defeated, and Rourke is killed when he is turned into a crystal statue, and cut to pieces by his airship's blades. As Milo and the others fly back to the city, the volcano erupts. As lava flows towards the city, Kida-in crystal form-rises into the air, creating a protective shield. The lava breaks away harmlessly, showing a restored Atlantis, and the crystal returns Kida to Milo. The rest of the crew return to the surface, vowing to keep Atlantis's location a secret, while Milo stays behind, falls in love with Kida and helps her rebuild the lost empire.

Cast[change | change source]

Awards[change | change source]

Award Category Name Outcome
29th Annie Awards[4] Individual Achievement in Directing Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise Nominated
Individual Achievement in Storyboarding Chris Ure Nominated
Individual Achievement in Production Design David Goetz Nominated
Individual Achievement in Effects Animation Marlon West Nominated
Individual Achievement in Voice Acting – Female Florence Stanley Nominated
Individual Achievement in Voice Acting – Male Leonard Nimoy Nominated
Individual Achievement for Music Score James Newton Howard Nominated
2002 DVD Exclusive Awards[5] Original Retrospective Documentary Michael Pellerin Nominated
2002 Golden Reel Award[6] Best Sound Editing – Animated Feature Film Gary Rydstrom, Michael Silvers, Mary Helen Leasman, John K. Carr, Shannon Mills, Ken Fischer, David C. Hughes, and Susan Sanford Won
Online Film Critics Society Awards 2001[7] Best Animated Feature Nominated
2002 Political Film Society[8] Democracy Nominated
Human Rights Nominated
Peace Nominated
World Soundtrack Awards[9] Best Original Song for Film Diane Warren and James Newton Howard Nominated
Young Artist Awards[10] Best Feature Family Film – Drama Walt Disney Feature Animation Nominated

leading to a re-evaluation, with many critics hailing it as a mistreated classic.

In particular, much praise has been given to the character of Kida, who was the first Disney Princess of color.[11] Summer has regarded the character of Kida as her favourite role and even considers the character among the official Disney Princess line-up.

In 2015, Katharine Trendacosta at io9 reviewed the film and called it a "Beautiful Gem of a Movie That Deserved Better Than It Got" and said that the film deserves more love than it ended up getting.[12] Ricky Brigante of InsideTheMagic considers the film the "most underrated, under-watched, and under-appreciated" Disney canon film, praising it for its themes and characters.[13] Lindsay Teal considers "Atlantis" to be "a lost Disney classic". Describing the film as highly entertaining, she praises the writing and characterisation – in particular, Sweet, Helga and Kida.[14]

Video games[change | change source]

There are several video games based on the film. Atlantis The Lost Empire: Search for the Journal (commonly known as Atlantis: Search for the Journal) was developed by Zombie Studios and published by Buena Vista Games, a subsidiary of Disney Interactive. It was released on May 1, 2001, for the Microsoft Windows platform and was a first-person shooter game, the first of two games based on the film developed by Zombie Studios and released for UPC labels from Kellogg's products for promotion. Atlantis The Lost Empire: Trial by Fire (commonly known as Atlantis: Trial by Fire) was the second game developed by Zombie Studios and published by Disney Interactive, and was released May 18, 2001, for the Microsoft Windows platform.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is an action game developed by Eurocom for the PlayStation console which was released June 14, 2001. The player controls Milo, Audrey, Molière, Kida and Vinny as they traverse Atlantis, unlocking its secrets. Some features in the game unlock others (such as a movie) by finding items hidden throughout the game. THQ released Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire for the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color. On Game Boy Color, it is a platform game in which the player controls Milo and three other characters from the film across 14 levels on a quest to discover Atlantis. On Game Boy Advance, it is a platform adventure-based game that hinges on searching and collecting crystals over 10 different levels including an epic battle against Rourke, the evil mercenary captain. The game was met with average to mixed reviews upon release. GameRankings and Metacritic gave it a score of 74% and 73 out of 100 for the PlayStation version; 65% for the Game Boy Color version; and 56% and 51 out of 100 for the Game Boy Advance version.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Atlantis: The Lost Empire". The-Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  2. Lyman, Rick; Fabrikant, Geraldine (May 21, 2001). "Suddenly, High Stakes for Disney's Film and TV Businesses". The New York Times. Retrieved July 4, 2011. Besides, Disney executives maintain that they have made it easier for their animated features to break even by a cost-cutting campaign that made Atlantis, which cost $100 million, about 35 percent cheaper to produce than the studio's other recent animated efforts.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
  4. "Legacy: 29th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners (2001)". International Animated Film Society. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  5. "2002 DVD Exclusive Winners". Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on August 11, 2004. Retrieved August 31, 2011.
  6. Benzuly, Sarah (June 1, 2002). "Black Hawk Down Among MPSE Winners". Mix. Archived from the original on March 10, 2013. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
  7. "OFCS Awards for 2001 Nominees". Online Film Critics Society. Archived from the original on February 19, 2002. Retrieved August 31, 2011.
  8. "Atlantis: The Lost Empire". Political Film Society. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
  9. "Belgian Film Fest to Host World Soundtrack Awards". Billboard. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
  10. "Twenty-Third Annual Young Artist Awards 2002". Young Artist Foundation. Archived from the original on April 10, 2016. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
  11. "All hail Kida of Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Disney's forgotten queen of color | SYFY WIRE". Archived from the original on 2021-04-21. Retrieved 2021-04-21.
  12. Trendacosta, Katharine (2015-08-28). "Atlantis: The Lost Empire Is a Beautiful Gem of a Movie That Deserved Better Than It Got". Retrieved April 22, 2021.
  13. "Review: "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" Blu-ray dives deep into must-own, action-packed and underrated Disney animated film". 22 April 2021.
  14. "'Atlantis': The Lost Disney Classic". 22 April 2021.