|The Disney Studio was built on innovation in animation, so it seems ironic that Atlantis is both a bold departure and highly derivative, borrowing heavily from anime, video games, and graphic novels. Instead of songs and fuzzy little animals, the artists offer an action-adventure set in 1914: nerdy linguist Milo Thatch (Michael J. Fox) believes he's found the location of the legendary Lost Continent. An eccentric zillionaire sends Milo out to test his hypothesis with an anachronistic crew that includes tough Puerto Rican mechanic Audrey (Jacqueline Obradors), demolition expert Vinnie (Don Novello), and butt-kicking blond adventurer Helga (Claudia Christian). When they find Atlantis, its culture is dying because the people can no longer read the runes that explain their mysterious power source--but Milo can. Nasty Commander Rourke (James Garner) attempts to steal that power source, leading to the requisite all-out battle.|
Atlantis offers some nifty battle scenes, including an attack on a Jules Verne-esque submarine by a giant robotic trilobite and fishlike flying cars. But the film suffers from major story problems. If Princess Kida (Cree Summer) remembers her civilization at its height, why can't she read the runes? Why doesn't Milo's crew notice that the Atlanteans live for centuries? The angular designs are based on the work of comic book artist Mike Mignola (Hellboy), and the artists struggle with the characters' stubby hands, skinny limbs, and pointed jaws. The result is a film that will appeal more to 10-year-old boys than to family audiences.
Suitable for ages 8 and up: violence, scary imagery, tobacco use, and a difficult-to-follow story. --Charles Solomon