I took a late lunch break today and slipped over to join friends for one of this week's films in the ongoing Disney Screen series, ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE (2001).
I knew absolutely nothing about ATLANTIS going in, and the big draw for me was the fact that James Garner voiced one of the lead characters. Boy, was I surprised when he turned out to be a villain! James Garner?!
The plot of this animated film concerns awkward Milo (Michael J. Fox), a linguist who believes he has uncovered the location of the lost city of Atlantis, off of Iceland. He loses his job after a presentation proposing an expedition, but Preston Whitmore (John Mahoney of FRASIER), an old friend of Milo's grandfather, provides a massive submarine and crew for Milo's expedition.
ATLANTIS isn't a Disney classic, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it an interesting and entertaining 95 minutes. The story was well plotted, with a nice balance of humor and action, plus a dash of romance.
I was a bit slow to grasp all the intricacies of how Atlantis was protected by crystals, but it didn't really matter, especially with the eye-catching animation, some of which was quite beautiful, and a wealth of good actors in the cast. In addition to Garner, Fox, Mahoney, and Summer, the voice cast included Leonard Nimoy, David Ogden Stiers, Corey Burton, Don Novello, Jim Varney, Phil Morris, and Jacqueline Obradors.
Disney historian Leonard Maltin agreed with me, rating ATLANTIS three stars and saying "Styled like a comic book, this Disney feature film got a bum rap in theaters; it's good family entertainment."
I appreciate that the Disney Screen series has encouraged me to try previously unseen Disney films, as well as revisit old favorites; it's been great fun, and I love that it's been so easy to see these films close to home, for a low price.
ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE was directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise.
Parental Advisory: ATLANTIS is rated PG for action violence. Some of the scenes, including a child separated from her mother, may be difficult for young children.
The film is available on DVD and VHS. It can also be streamed at Amazon Instant Video.
Previous Disney Screen reviews: OLIVER & COMPANY (1988), EIGHT BELOW (2006), THE LOVE BUG (1968), THE ROCKETEER (1991), ROBIN HOOD (1973), POLLYANNA (1960), POCAHONTAS (1995), FUN AND FANCY FREE (1947), THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH (1977), and MAKE MINE MUSIC (1946).