Reunion with one of Disney’s biggest animation risks, 20 years later
To my previous readers A look back series here on this NotVeryProfoundFilm Medium Blog, Hello! Welcome back! It’s been a while since my last participation in this series, the last one was my essay on Satoshi Kon’s Anime Classic, Perfect blue. For the new ones here, this series covers meaningful essay films that are (typically) over 10 years old and that have some degree of significance to me personally, with previous posts, among others. Tron: Legacy and Speed Racer. I can not even begin to list all the planned other pieces I had planned to make for this project over the last two years, just let them fall by the wayside due to lack of motivation, but hopefully, and I mean hopefully, I’ll be writing about them all over the next few months! That being said, after spending last year on almost the entire Disney animated film catalog, I felt it best to kickstart this official reboot of A look back series with at least one of those movies, and shockingly enough I landed on Atlantis: The Lost Empire and not Monsters Inc. or Treasure Planet, despite having more admiration for them. So why choose this movie instead? Again, with the word hopefully, I plan to get to the bottom of this article, so stick with me and maybe you will find out too! Let’s take a look back at the 2001 Disney animated film, Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
IN Atlantis: The Lost Empire, an inexperienced young adventurer becomes the key to unraveling an ancient mystery as he joins a group of daredevil explorers to find the legendary lost empire Atlantis. A naive but determined museum cartographer Milo Thatch (Michael J. Fox) dreams of completing the mission that his late grandfather, a famous explorer, started. When a journal shows up, an eccentric billionaire finances an expedition and the action shifts to high gear.
The expedition is led by Commander Rourke (James Garner), who also led Journal recovery expedition. The crew includes Helga (Claudia Christian); Vinny (Don Novello), a demolition expert; Molière (Corey Burton), a geologist; Dr. Sweet (Phil Morris), a physician; Audrey (Jacqueline Obradors), a mechanic; Mrs. Packard (Florence Stanley), a radio operator; Cookie (Jim Varney), a chuckwagon cook; and several trained soldiers. They set out in the massive submarine “Ulysses”, but are attacked by a mechanical leviathan guarding the entrance to Atlantis. “Ulysses” is devastated, leaving only a handful of survivors.
After Journal’s instructions, they enter a cave and travel through a sleeping volcano after Milo accidentally starts a fire in the camp, falls into a hole, and eventually arrives in Atlantis, where they are greeted by Kida (Cree Summer ), miraculously still alive and young.
Against her father’s wish, Kida gets Milo to help Atlantis regain his old glory and leads him to an underwater mural in the sunken part of town. Milo learns from the mural that “The Heart of Atlantis” gives people there a long life, and once operated their devices, via smaller crystals, they all carry. He discovers a side of Journal, which also contained this information, is missing. When he returns to the surface, he is confronted by Rourke, who reveals that he has the missing side, and reveals that he plans to steal the heart and sell it at a high price, without worrying about the fate of the Atlanteans. He and the crew capture Milo and Kida, and Rourke mortally wounds the King of Atlantis (Leonard Nimoy) and demands to know where the heart is.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire, is a 2001 sci-fi animated film from Walt Disney Feature Animation, the 41st film in the Disney animated catalog. The film earns $ 181 million at the box office on a budget of somewhere between $ 90 million and $ 120 million, with the film opening to very mixed reactions from both audiences and critics.
From the start, the film’s plot was already a step above previously animated Disney excursions in terms of its scope, and chose to take on this amazing Science-Fiction adventure ala Jules Verne style, alternating history with different science for the world these characters inhabit. This also had to be something Disney knew, because even though there is a Disney princess in the movie in the form of Kida, this was far away from its classic princess tales such as. Beauty and the beast, Aladdinor The little Mermaid. Instead, we have this mysterious tale of the legendary Lost City of Atlantis being infused with pure sci-fi acting on the big screen with a truly breathtaking animation.
That said, the quality of the film is also worth talking about, with the aforementioned reactions from both the general public and film critics, as they were mixed to say the least. And I would to some extent agree that the film is a mixed bag, as it often feels either a bit too ambitious in certain parts of the film or as if it was pulled in two different directions elsewhere, and feels as if one may still feel conflicting visions of the final product. Even still, the film remains a tentacle, at least in my eyes, for what mainstream 2D animation could be twenty years ago, and what it can still be today if Disney were ever to find the will or courage to give audiences yet another 2D style movie where their last came back in 2009 with The princess and the Frog.
What I personally love about the film is that it carries its heart on its sleeve. The film still feels to this day as if it was trying to be so much more than what it actually ended up being, and would like to be an animated 20,000 leagues under the sea on crack rather than some random throw away sci-fi children’s film as the possible failure that was Mars needs mothers. With Atlantis: The Lost Empire, you get a truly spectacular opening sequence that shows the fall of the city of Atlantis, a breathtaking setting that once reached, and some wild animated scenery that still holds true today in 2021, twenty years later.
For further analysis in Atlantis: The Lost Empire and its overall history, watch this video essay from Ladyknightthebrave over on Youtube, which covers the film’s storytelling as a whole! It’s really worth seeing!
In terms of characters, the film offers a wealth of variations ranging from the lovable nerd who is Milo Thatch, to the now iconic Princess Kida (shoutout to Doja Cat for the perfect cosplay a few months ago!), To Rourke is a real well-finished villain, or to Leonard Nimoy, who does some voice work, which was always a pleasure to hear in any film he leaned on, even Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The rest of the expedition crew also feel like mostly embodied characters that make sense to exist in the world presented in the film here, where the majority come out as actual people and others, like Molière, feel like total caricatures. Either way, the variation in the characters is really great, with representation of a variety of backgrounds, and for 2001, everything else I can say is a good job Disney, all in this was not a white character!
And when I talk about the aforementioned Rourke … for those fans of Disney Villains, though I do not think Rourke is anything special in terms of being iconic as a character or anything, despite being a proper villain here, he without a doubt one of the best, most deaths in any Disney movie to date. Seriously, I can imagine kids in the theater were not okay when his transformation into a monster happened. But even then, it suited his character when the man became too greedy and had no care for the people of Atlantis because he just wanted the fame, honor, and wealth for himself, where it literally consumed him in the great climax.
In the end is Atlantis: The Lost Empire an animated masterpiece like Monsters Inc. or Treasure Planet (hot take, I know)? No, absolutely not. When you look at the film back in 2021, it feels pretty clear why this did not become a huge success. That said, despite medium-sized reviews, the film still made a profit and got a direct-to-DVD sequel from Disney, even though its planned integration into Disney’s theme parks was shelved in favor of the ultimate success that would be finding Nemo. I was still a very young child when this first came out, so I actually can not remember how the movie was marketed, whether it was marketed well at all, or whether it was another Treasure Planet situation where it was clear that Disney was asking for its downfall, but whatever the reason may have been, with the failure that the film was in Disney’s eyes since its release is Atlantis, just as its pseudo-sister film, Treasure Planet, was abandoned by The Mouse for two decades …
It was not until a few weeks ago when rumors began swirling online that Disney was watching Tom Holland for the role of Milo Thatch in a live-action remake of the often-overlooked 2001 film. Will It Happen? I do not hold my breath for it as it would feel very out of the left field for Disney to rectify their current trend of making their already popular films such as. Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), Lions King, Beauty and the beast, Aladdinand the coming The little Mermaidwith Atlantis be a really random choice for them to make amidst this wave of live action remakes.
That said, Atlantis is the target movie for what Disney should turn into live-action movies if they are crazy about doing this. It was a mistake for them as it was not the success that most would assume they wanted, both financially and critically, and with how much technology is advanced, it is much more possible to try to recreate or recreate the visual from the animated film with CGI and scenery. now than ever. So Disney, if you want to continue making your entire catalog of animations, if you want to focus on Atlantis, The black kettleand Treasure Planet too little it would be fat!