Disney: Atlantis: The Lost Empire
"Less singing. More explosions."Entry #41 in the Disney Animated Canon, this movie begins with a great cataclysm that occurred in the distant past.Flash forward to the early 20th century. Milo Thatch, a young, poor, orphaned linguist, has uncovered evidence of the existence of a great civilization in the past, Atlantis, which was previously thought to be just a myth. Despite his breakthroughs in deciphering clues hidden in the writings and legends of many disparate cultures, his ideas and his proposed expedition—to find "the Shepherd's Journal" and follow its instructions to the lost city itself—is rejected outright by his peers. However, a mysterious woman steps in and offers him a chance to prove his theory, backed by the mysterious billionaire Mr. Whitmore, who knew Milo's grandfather and had agreed years earlier to help finance Milo's expedition.Once Milo meets Whitmore and convinces him of his own personal determination and commitment, he is invited to join an expedition that is setting out to make the unprecedented trip to Atlantis itself. The rag-tag team is led by Commander Rourke, a straight, no-nonsense military man, who also knew Milo's grandfather and worked with him on the previous expedition where they found the Shepherd's Journal. Once they arrive at the destination from which they might never return, they discover an underdeveloped, dying society that has abandoned and forgotten their written language — and Milo becomes a translator between the two cultures. However, it is revealed that there is an ulterior purpose to the expedition that Milo is unaware of, and his compatriots are not all that they seem.Atlantis is also the second Disney Animated Canon film to be rated PG in America, with the first being The Black Cauldron, which was released all the way back in 1985!
— The team motto for this film, according to DVD Commentary.
This film provides examples of:
- Action Girl: It would be easier to just say "all of them," but it's a lot more fun to name them specifically;
- Audrey is a teenage mechanic who's surprisingly proactive, given her age. Apparently she also has a sister who is poised to become a boxing champion.
- Helga's not just a Femme Fatale - she can kick some serious ass too.
- Even Ms. Packard gets in on this during the climax.
- Adorkable: Milo, who personifies this to such a degree that he provides the page image for that trope. Intelligent, sweet, clumsy, scrawny, still brave... Top it off with the voice of Michael J. Fox, and you have got fangirl carnage on your hands.
Kida: You are a scholar are you not? Judging by your diminished physique and large forehead, you are suited for nothing else.
- Kida makes mention of this... in her own, unique way.
- Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Although by the time Milo and the crew gets there, the natives have forgotten how everything works.
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: At the end of the movie, Milo is saying goodbye to all his friends. When he comes to Mole, who offers a big hug, he hesitates before patting his head instead.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The film has a different theme song for the Japanese version, called "Crystal Vine", written by DREAMS COME TRUE.
- Also an alternative song in the Latin American version, to the point where the North American DVD has an entire hidden section you cannot access if you select to see the movie in anything but Spanish when you have the chance at the loading screen.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Gas had not been deployed as a weapon yet, but the concept of a gas mask dates back to the 9th century. A gas mask was patented in America in 1849 by Lewis Haslett, for filtering dust, and Garrett A. Morgan invented a gas mask in 1912 that proved useful for gas/smoke-filled environments. Military use of gas masks did not occur until at least 1915, but Rourke runs a private army with unconventional equipment, to say the least.
- Anachronism Stew: The movie makes an effort to avoid this minus Atlantis and some of the Steampunk / Dieselpunk tech used by the expedition.
- Though Mole does use a Soviet PPSh-41 submachine gun and steel helmets and gas masks would not be commonplace until 1915-16.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "We've done a lot of things we're not proud of: robbing graves, eh, plundering tombs, double-parking..." It is even funnier in the Latin American dub, where he ends the list with "kicked a dog".
- Artistic License – Linguistics: Averted (See Conveniently Precise Translation below) and also played straight. In most languages, the translation in the beginning would not work, but the Norse words for Ireland and Iceland really are one rune (letter) apart, so it makes perfect sense for the two words to be accidentally switched. However, later on the Atlanteans can magically speak not just English but every language descended from their own, even though that is not how languages evolve. Additionally, many of the languages spoken are from completely different language families (meaning that they are not descended from the same language, Atlantean or otherwise).
- Related, the film implies that every linguist before Milo was a complete idiot, as the rune for C looks exactly like a C, and the rune for R looks exactly like an R. Mixing them up would be like mixing up...an R and a C, really.
- Milo can speak Atlantean through slowly translating their written language. Unless a Romanization or Anglicization of the alphabet exists (which is doubtful), this is impossible, as you can't tell what a letter is supposed to sound like solely through what it looks like. On the other hand, his pronunciation is nowhere near perfect; Kida comments that his accent is "boorish, provincial, and you speak it through your nose."
- Artistic License – Physics: The Atlantean tech gets a pass due to the 'sufficiently advanced technology', but there are a couple of instances. For instance, the Ulysses explodes after the crew escapes, when at thalassic depths it should have been crumpling in on itself as the boiler explosion within compromised its structure.
- Atlantis: Do you REALLY need an explanation for this?
- Award Bait Song: Oh, it may not be a musical, but it is still a Disney animated film. Thus, "Where the Dream Takes You". Sadly, it is not in Atlantean.
- Ax-Crazy: Rourke, who attacks Milo with an ax as the hot air balloon transport is crashing. He himself admits that Milo has done what few people have, which is royally piss him off.
- Badass: Pretty much everyone who embarked on the expedition gets an Establishing Character Moment during the Leviathan's attack. Even the great many that didn't make it.
- Badass Adorable: Kida.
- Badass Bookworm: Milo during the climax.
- Blatant Lies: Used for humor and as the official story in the end. Pretty much the crew that made it back home are talking about how it was all a dead end and how everyone died... while they're wearing their crystals and new, expensive clothes, with Whitmore looking at the photographs of Alantis.
- Bare Your Midriff: Kida and a few other Atlantean women.
- Berserk Button: You...have disturbed...the DIRT!
- Big Bad: Commander Lyle T. Rourke.
- Bizarre Taste in Food: Mole. When Cookie is serving up dinner, he slops baked beans onto everyone's trays, but refers to it as Caesar salad (for Sweet), escargot (for Audrey) and oriental spring rolls (for Mole). Mole looks at his tray, disappointed, and protests to Audrey that he wanted the escargot, and Audrey shoves her tray at him. Mole abandons the 'spring rolls' and digs into the 'escargot,' even though it's the same greasy food.
- The Bet: Whitmore reveals that, years ago, he and Milo's grandfather had made a bet: If Thaddeus Thatch ever actually found the Shepherd's Journal then Whitmore would not only personally fund the mission to find the city, he would kiss Thatch right on the mouth.Whitmore: Imagine my embarrassment when he found the darn thing!
- Book Ends: The queens. The film begins with the end of one queen's reign, and ends with the beginning of another's.
- Book Snap: Milo has just been handed the Shepherd's Journal, a supposed first-person account of the lost city of Atlantis, by Mr. Withmore. As he peruses it, Withmore comments that it's probably fake. Milo quickly shuts the journal and tells him that he his certain of the existence of Atlantis and is willing to do anything to prove it...which is exactly what Withmore wanted to hear.
- Bowties Are Cool: Milo wears one in the beginning of the film. Of course, they are fairly appropriate for the time period.
- Body Horror: You try turning into crystal and tell me (or Rourke) it didn't hurt.
- Body to Jewel: Kida merges with the Heart of Atlantis. Later on Rourke is turned into a crystal monster after making contact with a crystallized shard of glass.
- Bridge Logic: Vinny, providing the page's quote:Milo: Will you look at the size of this? It's gotta be half a mile high, at least. It must have taken hundred — no, thousands of years to carve this thing.
[Vinny blows it up so it falls down over a chasm]
Vinny: Hey, look, I made a bridge. It only took me, like, what? 10 seconds? 11, tops.
- This is made even more hilarious when taking into account that that particular scene is 10-11 seconds, depending on how you cut it.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Most of Rourke's team are highly competent in their respective fields but are very odd individuals otherwise.
- But Not Too Black: Sweet is only half African, with a Native American mother. Which sort of makes him a literal African-American.
- Capitalism Is Bad: The Big Bad, Rourke, is a sadistic mercenary who describes himself as an "adventure capitalist". Granted, all he is motivated by is money, which is why he leads the expedition. Then, just to increase the riches he'd undoubtedly get just for pictures of the place, he steals the only thing that allows the Atlanteans to survive (a giant blue crystal) and tries to bring it to the surface to sell it. Some people see the film as being anti-capitalist because of him.
- Caper Crew: As this is not strictly a "caper" as much as it is the world's most expensive and dangerous excavation, some roles may be disputed, but for the most part it would follow for each character as:
- Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke: The Mastermind, leader of his own private military group
- Lieutenant Helga Katrina Sinclair: The Partner in Crime, and second-in-command of said military group
- Preston B. Whitmore: The Backer
- Milo Thatch: The Hacker (figuratively) and/or The New Kid
- Vincenzo "Vinny" Santorini: The Gadget Guy, though his gadgets are bombs and other explosive materials
- Gaetan "Mole" Moliére: The other Gadget Guy, specializing in excavating equipment
- Wilhelmina Bertha Packard: The Coordinator, being their resident radio operator
- Joshua Strongbear Sweet: The Muscle, physically speaking, but he is actually the crew's medical officer
- Audrey Rocio Ramirez: The Gadget Girl, the mechanic
- Jebidiah Allardyce "Cookie" Farnsworth: Simply the cook for the expedition, as his expertise is not specialised specifically for the crew's line of work
- Captain Obvious:Milo (exasperated): Well, do you have any advice?!Vinny: Yeah - Don't get shot.
- Chekhov's Gun:
Audrey: (trying and failing to cut the chain) "I thought you said this thing could cut through a femur in 28 seconds!"
- Dr. Sweet's saw. Later used to cut down the trapped Kida. Or at least tries:
Sweet: Less talk, more saw!
Sweet: Hold on. Back Up. Are you saying this volcano can blow at anytime?
- Helga carries Chekhov's Flare Gun tucked into her trousers.
- Milo plays with a small part of the submarine model, which turns out to be the large inflatable balloon that Rourke and Helga try to take to the top of the volcanic chimney to escape.
Mole: No, no, no, no. That would take an explosive force of great magnitude.note
- The Guardians of Atlantis - the shield golems, activated by the Heart of Atlantis, which protect the center of the city from the tsunami at the beginning and from the exploding volcano at the end.
- Chekhov's Skill: Milo's ability to manage certain touchy boilers.
- Chekhov's Volcano: It's a tribute to pulp adventure. They find a dormant volcano. The rest practically writes itself.
- The Chief's Daughter: Kida. Played with since she's evolved into this as her society went from thriving kingdom to dying and primitive.
- Clipped Wing Angel When Rourke is stabbed with the crystalizing glassing from Kida's cage, he mutates into a crystal humanoid and keeps attacking Milo. However, the propeller of their balloon makes short work of him.
- Comically Missing the Point: See Nice Job Breaking It, Hero below. Sweet's response to Milo's rant is to remind him "you did set the camp on fire and drop us down that big hole".
- Communications Officer: Mrs. Packard, although she spends most of the time chatting up her friend over the phone (which, unless she's also in the submarine, would be quite a feat using 1914 technology).
- Con Lang: The Atlantean language is an actual functional language.
- Continuity Nod: The sequel has a few of these:
- Milo delivers the phrase "two for flinching" when he gives Audrey a second hug after the first.
- Mole whispers something to three Atlantean women which causes them to beat him up for the remainder of the scene. You'd think he'd have learned his lesson the first time.
- Cookie serves the slop from the first expedition again with the line "I told you it'd keep and keep and keep, now it's yours to eat and eat and eat". It gets fed to Oggy the moment Cookie isn't looking.
- When describing the size of the locks Kida should use to secure an allpowerful Atlantean spear, Vinny says "Locks, big ones" and uses the same gesture as when he described large paper clips.
- Convection Schmonvection: Milo runs around on a rapidly melting volcano floor in thin shoes with no problem.
- Conveniently Precise Translation: The runes between the Norse words "Ísland" and "Írland" really are fairly similar, just like the English words "Ireland" and "Iceland". The only difference being a horizontal mirroring and a vertical line.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Sweet threatens the dirt-loving geologist Mole with soap if he doesn't leave Milo alone.
- Cool Ship: The huge submarine Ulysses is awesome, built like something straight out of Jules Verne's stories. Unfortunately, even it is no match for the Leviathan's Wave Motion Gun.
- Cosmopolitan Council
- Crazy-Prepared: Rourke. Audrey's main advice to Milo when they are going against him is that he is "never surprised." Case in point - he brings anti-aircraft guns and an army of biplanes with him on an underground/underwater mission, despite having no reason to think he was going to be attacked by flying machines.
- What makes it even crazier is the fact they lost 90% of their equipment prior to that point.
- At least some of the credit should go to Mr. Whitmore, who had the expedition supplied with said equipment in the first place.
- Creator Thumbprint: Mike Mignola was the production designer for the film and boy, does it show. Especially one scene during a travel montage where a shot combines both what Milo sees in the Shepherd's Journal with the route the crew follows, complete with Mike's signature use of black.
- Cunning Linguist: Milo.
- Damsel in Distress: Kida... but in proof that Tropes Are Not Bad, once she is saved from distress, she proceeds to save everyone else from certain death.
- Dark Action Girl: Helga.
- Dark-Skinned Blond: The Atlanteans mostly have white hair but otherwise fit the archetype closely.
- Deadpan Snarker:
(while heavily smoking) "We're all gonna die."
- Ms. Packard.
- Vinny has been known to snark as well; see the entry for Bridge Logic, above.
- Death Glare: The explorers give this to Milo after Milo almost led them down the jaws of a creature by accident due to holding the Shepherd's Journal upside down.
- Deflector Shields: Atlantis is shown to have one in the prelude. They turn out to be a Chekhov's Gun.
- Disney Death: Averted with Kida's father.
- Disney Villain Death: Subverted. Helga survives the fall, but it's not likely she survived having a flaming zeppelin crashing down on her. Also averted with Rourke who dies by getting caught in the Zeppelin's blades.
- Regarding the fall, Helga is confirmed to have been crushed by the zeppelin once the rest of the crew returns to the surface.
- Distant Prologue: The film opens with the destruction of Atlantis several thousand years ago as it is submerged beneath the ocean. Originally there was a different Distant Prologue intended for the opening, focusing on a viking ship that was trying to find the city, but the producers decided for a more action-packed opening.
- The Dog Bites Back: It is Helga's Last Breath Bullet after Rourke betrays her that really foils the Evil Plan.
- Dwindling Party: The encounter with the Leviathan kills most of the crew of the Ulysses; each step of their journey to Atlantis further thins their party until few more than the main characters are left.
- Dying Race: The Atlanteans, though they start to redevelop their society at the end of the first movie.
- Easter Egg: In the shot of the Ulysses descending into the ocean, a crewman can be seen grinning and waving at the camera almost immediately after Milo goes off frame (You'll need to use freeze-frame to see him).
- Eldritch Abomination: The sequel gives us the Kraken, a giant squid-like beastie with a fish-like face and the ability to offer immortality to anyone who makes a deal with it and hypnotize people as well.
- Embarrassing Slide: Milo intends to start his lecture by showing a slide of the Leviathan, "a creature so terrifying that sailors were said to be driven mad by the mere sight of it." Cut to a slide of him popping up, wearing a onesie bathing suit, duckie inner tube, and arm floaties.
- The End of the World as We Know It: In the sequel, Erik Hellstrom, under the belief that he is Odin's reincarnation, steals Gungnir from Whitmore's mansion and attempts to use it to bring about Ragnarok.
- To be honest, Hellstrom's view of Ragnarok is a bit warped, since it mainly involves Surtr setting the sky ablaze and Þrymr freezing the surface of the earth as they both hold Gungnir.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Robbing graves? Fine. Plundering tombs? Fine. Double-parking? Fine. Stealing the only thing keeping the last remnants of Atlantean civilization alive? Prompts a group Heel-Face Turn.
- Everything Makes a Mushroom: Cookie's cooking does this when disposed of in a fire.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Kida. She becomes queen at the end of the film, something very few Disney Princesses get to do, and is the first Disney Princess to do so. She was also the only one until Elsa came along.
- Evil All Along: Rourke. According to Sweet, "He's been after that crystal since Iceland."
- Evil Is Petty: They find Atlantis, that turn out to be still living civilization. It's hands down the greatest archaeological discovery in history which our heroes will be greatly rewarded for, but that's not enough for the otherwise friendly Rourke. He wants to take the Heart of Atlantis, which would kill the Atlanteans, so that he'll be even more rich.
- Evil Plan: Rourke makes the journey to steal the crystal and kill anyone in his way. The final stage of this plan is what Milo fights against.
- Faceless Mooks: The gas-mask wearing soldiers in the end.
- Family Business: Both Audrey and Vinny are part of one.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: Averted. Period accurate weapons are used frequently.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Rourke is turned to crystal and shattered to pieces by propeller blades. Although some might overlook this compared to how graphic it would have been if he hadn't been turned to crystal.
- Fan Disservice: In-universe. Mrs. Packard says she sleeps in the nude and Sweet says that she sleepwalks after throwing Milo a sleep mask.
- Fan Service Pack: It's quite convenient that the fireflies would attack the camp while everyone's asleep, meaning they spend the rest of the film wearing less clothing. Rourke, Milo, Vinnie and Sweet lose their modest tops to be replaced by flattering vests. Audrey also loses her baggy sleeves and Helga loses the coat in favour of a tank top.
- Fauxshadowing: After Mole comments on how the dormant volcano will only erupt in reaction to an explosion of great magnitude, everyone stares at Vinny, who is tinkering with a time bomb. When the volcano does erupt, however, Vinny has nothing to do with it; in fact, he lampshades this.
- Femme Fatale: Helga.
- Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: Ends with an Atlantean flying machine obscuring the camera.
- The Fog of Ages: The Atlanteans have forgotten much of their culture over the centuries, to the point that none of them can read their own writing.
- When Whitmore shows off the scale models of the vehicles to be used in the expedition, Milo is seen fiddling with the Hot Air Balloon Model. Milo later has his climactic battle with Rourke on the real thing.
- As mentioned in the DVD commentary, when Whitmore shows the files of the crew, Rourke's photo is partially covered-up. All the good guys' photos are fully uncovered.
- Again with Rourke: at the beginning when they're getting on the boat, Rourke says the trip "will enrich us all". Later, he is shown to definitely care more about money than ethics.
- Kida's true age is foreshadowed once by the King ("A thousand years ago you would have struck them down.")
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the scene in which the leviathan attacks, Mrs. Packard can be seen opening a crime novel and trying to read even as she relays communications for the rest of the panicked crew.
- Freudian Slip: "I know how to swim pretty girl — good! Pretty good, I swim pretty good."
- Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted, as Cookie includes whiskey in his personal list of the four basic food groups.
- Gas Mask Mooks: The soldiers that come along on the expedition. A prudent measure, given it is an underground expedition with a real risk of gas pockets and the climax takes place in an erupting volcano, though none of the named main characters were one.
- Genre Shift: For the sequel, which is a Compilation Film (of a series that never aired) with a Paranormal Investigation theme (and Atlantis itself only appearing at the beginning and the end, though its legacy is apparent throughout the film).
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Mole whispers something in Kida's ear that makes her angrily punch him.
- Gilligan Cut: Milo is so excited he can't hold it in. Cue Vomit Discretion Shot.
- Going Native: Milo at the end of the film.
- Golem: The Guardians of Atlantis; unlike the Leviathan, they serve a defensive purpose, generating a deflector shield to protect the center of Atlantis, both from the cataclysm at the beginning and the exploding volcano at the end.
- The Great Depression: It's revealed in passing during the Direct-to-Video "sequel" that its events take place shortly after the Stock Market Crash, well over 15 years after the movie...with no one changing or aging at all in the intervening time, thanks to the longevity crystals they brought back from Atlantis.
- The Greatest History Never Told: Sweet was a medic during the Spanish-American War.
- Heel Face Door Slam: Helga shows some remorse when she discovers that they will be stealing from living people and not a long-dead civilization, but she goes along with Rourke's plan...at least until he turns on her. It's not clear if this would have been enough to make her side with Milo, though, since she doesn't survive the final battle.
- Heel-Face Turn: Vinny, Audrey. Mole, Cookie, and Mrs. Packard may have been Only in It for the Money, but unlike Rourke they're not willing to resort to murder.
- The High Queen: Kida's mother. And Kida herself at the end.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Rourke's betrayal of Helga swiftly comes back to bite him in the ass.
- Honor Before Reason: Milo's decision to stop the older and very-experienced-in-warfare Rourke from taking Kida and the source of Atlantis's power. He even says so himself."I didn't say it was the smart thing, but it is the right thing."
- I Drank What?: Done with a canteen of what Vinny claims to be nitroglycerin as a joke.
- I Did What I Had to Do: When the Ulysses engineering compartments start to flood, Audrey prevents the leakage from getting out of hand and drowning more people by sealing off the damaged section, with at least one engineer still inside.
- "I Know What We Can Do" Cut
- Instant Runes: Any and every Atlantean machine lights up with a luminous pattern of runes (and Tron Lines) when it's activated.
- Ironic Echo: When the crew sets up camp for the night and talking about their lives, all of them except Milo say that they're here pretty much because they're getting paid. Later, when they're loading the Crystal-possessed Kida up for the trip back to the volcano, Milo reminds them of their plans and how easy they'll be now, but they have wiped out the Atlanteans in the process, ending with-Milo: But that's what it's all about, right? Money.
- Irony: Disney was expecting this film to be their big 2D hit for 2001, but the film performed under expectations, causing Disney's smaller 2D movie of the year, Recess: School's Out, to be a bigger successnote . In Finland, the VHS and DVD of Atlantis contained the Recess premiere episode ("The Break In/The New Kid") as a bonus.
- Jerkass Gods: Kida states that the Atlanteans were banished underwater because their gods grew jealous of Atlantis's wealth and power. The real reason the city sank, however, is because Kida's father attempted to use the Heart of Atlantis as a weapon against enemy nations. The Heart, being sentient, did NOT take it well.
- Jump Scare: Rourke is petrified! Hooray, the villain has been killed in a relatively family-friendly oh god it lives!
- Kaiju: The Leviathan, the Kraken, Ymir and Sutr all count.
- Karma Houdini: All of the specialists who took part in Rourke's get-rich plan that ends up with the king of Atlantis dead, all so they can steal Atlants's treasure, are Easily Forgiven (and very richly rewarded) for having a last minute twinge of conscience.
- To be fair, though, they initially thought they were just going to be doing some elaborate grave-robbing from a long-dead civilization. Murder wasn't on their to-do list.
- Kick the Dog: When Rourke has gotten the crystal, removed Atlantean opposition and is ready to leave the city he turns and knocks Milo down just for the hell of it. And he crushes Milo's picture of Thaddeus under his heel.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Milo has a white cat named Fluffy.
- Kirby Dots: The Leviathan's energy weapon. Discussed by the director on the commentary track.
- Lad Ette: Audrey and implied with her sister, because their father wanted boys.
- Last Breath Bullet: Helga. Well, flare anyway.
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others:Milo: What else have you got in there?
Vinny: Oh, you know: gunpowder, nitroglycerin, notepads, fuses, wicks, glue, paper clips (big ones). You know, just office supplies.
- Layman's Terms:Milo: I don't know how to explain it! It's their deity, their power source!
Rourke: Speak English, professor!
Mole: The fissure! It is about to eject its pyroclastic fury!
Sweet: Milo! Mole says the volcano's about to blow!
- Lethal Chef: Cookie, who puts sickening amounts of lard in his food.Cookie (holding a head of lettuce): What is this?Helga: That would be lettuce.Cookie: Lettuce!? LETTUCE!?Helga: It's a vegetable. The men need their four basic food groups.Cookie (holding up three fingers): I got yer four basic food groups: beans, bacon, whiskey, an' lard!
- When the team dump his food into the campfire, it creates a miniature mushroom cloud.
- Literally Shattered Lives: What happens to Rourke at the end.
- The Load: Milo is seen this way by many of the expedition members - and he certainly causes enough problems to justify the view. Once his skill set comes into play, the trope is defied.
- Lost World: Duh.
- Lovecraft Country: The small fishing village in the second movie.
- MacGuffin Girl: In a variation, the girl merges with a preexisting MacGuffin, rather than turning out to have been it all along.
- Mayincatec: The Atlantean ruins (and runes) have more than a whiff of this, especially when their Tron Lines become visible. This is a deliberate invocation of the trope, since Atlantis is supposed to have been the inspiration for those later cultures.
- May-December Romance: It's hard to tell, considering everyone in Atlantis has white hair, but the King looks substantially older than his wife in the prologue.
- Mayfly-December Romance: Milo and Really 700 Years Old Kida. Although, if the Atlantean's crystal power source is what makes them live so long, you never know...
- Mechanical Monster: The Leviathan.
- Mighty Whitey: Milo can be seen as this but most several of the problems he fixes were caused by him in the first place.
- Mineral MacGuffin
- A Minor Kidroduction: The film opens during the destruction of Atlantis, which took place when Kida was still a child.
- Missing Mom: Follow the Disney rule of having the princess raised by only one parent: the film begins with Kida's mom being taken from her and her father.
- Mole Men: Mole.
- Motor Mouth: Sweet talks faster than the other characters. In fact, his actor's rapid-fire delivery of lines made animating him somewhat difficult.
- Milo speaks so fast he's almost unintelligible in one or two scenes.
- Multinational Team: The crew for the expedition is multiethnic in 1914, no less.
- Audrey's inclusion makes this the only film in Disney's canon to have a Hispanic human character voiced by a Hispanic actor (or in this case, actress).
- Never Say "Die": Pretty cleverly worked around in the scene where Rourke is interrogating the King of Atlantis. At one point, he punches the King in the gut for not cooperating, and an enraged Kida (who is being held captive by Rourke's men) starts threatening him in Atlantean. The official comic book adaption translates her words to 'I will kill you for that.'
Rourke: All right, who's not dead? Sound off!
- Elsewhere, death and references to it are pretty straightforward.
- Nice Hat:
- Packard wears a Brodie Helmet as part of her uniform.
- Of course, there is Moliere's leather cap.
- Audrey also wears one as well.
- Kida's tiara at the end of the film.
- Cookie's bowler hat.
- There's also the helmet Milo inherited from his grandfather. He never grew into it and it covers his eyes, but he apparently likes to put it on anyway. He even keeps it in a nice little case.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Milo realizes towards the end of the film that a lot of the problems, maybe even all the problems, are at least tangentially his fault.Milo: Oh, my decision? Well, I think we've seen how effective my decisions have been. Let's recap: I led a band of plundering vandals to the greatest archeological find in recorded history, thus enabling the kidnap and/or murder of the royal family! Not to mention personally delivering the most powerful force known to man to the hands of a mercenary nutcase, who's probably going to sell it to the Kaiser! *pause* Have I left anything out?!
Sweet: Well, you did set the camp on fire and drop us down that big hole.
- Nobody Poops: Averted. Milo accidentally awakens some fireflies while heading out to relieve himself.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Averted, but Mole is called an animal and a pet which Milo replies as, "Close enough."
- Non-Lethal Warfare: Averted. The Leviathan kills well over a hundred people during its attack (visibly crushing their mini-subs in its claws) and the final battle features plenty of Mooks being blown up.
- Nonsense Classification: Cookie has his own take on the four basic food groups: beans, bacon, whiskey and lard. A deleted scene has him name the only three spices he uses: salt, salt, and sodium chloride.
- Noodle Incident: Mole's background. Sweet is sorry he ever heard it from Audrey, and forbids her to tell Milo.
- According to some of the promotional material released before the film, it involves literally living in the Paris catacombs/sewers.
- Not That Kind of Doctor: Kida had some trouble grasping the notion that not all doctors are medics.
- Nothing Personal: Used twice as a Pre-Mortem One-Liner, after Rourke kicks Helga off his zeppelin and then repeated when Helga fires the Flare Gun at the zeppelin. In her case, it's probably Blatant Lies.
- Nubile Savage: Kida.
- Nuclear Candle: Averted. Rourke lights a match in a dark chasm and it's only bright enough to light his face. Nothing else can be seen until everyone turns their vehicles' headlights on.
- Oh, Crap: There's such a moment for Milo, Audrey, Sweet and Vinnie when they realize the final battle has brought on a volcanic eruption.
- Omniglot: The Atlanteans are implied to be fluent in every single language spoken in the world in addition to their own language. When the expedition first enters Atlantis, Milo and Kida converse in several different languages (including the Atlantean, Latin, Hebrew and French) before settling on English for the rest of the film.
- Only in It for the Money: Milo aside, everyone on the expedition is this, especially Rourke.
- Parent Service: Helga's introduction.
- Parental Bonus: Many of the voice actors (especially Don Novello) and references to people like Jefferson Davis and P.T. Barnum.
- Perpetual Frowner: Helga is generally scowling.
- Pet's Homage Name: Milo was originally going to have a pet rat named Plato.
- Phosphor-Essence: Kida glows blue when she takes on an energy form.
- Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation: When Whitmore is showing Milo the files of each of the crew members, Rourke has his face partially obscured while everyone else's is not, hinting that he turns out to be the Big Bad.
- Politically Correct History: An ethnically diverse crew of explorers... in 1914! Justified in that the core were mercenaries - which put petty little things like ethnicity aside in the Search for More Money - and the crew was assembled by Whitmore, who was a Crazy Awesome certifiable nutcase.
- Power Crystal
- Punch Catch: At the climax, Milo tries to punch Rourke, only for Rourke to catch it and slam Milo's own hand back into his face.
- Rourke also uses this technique to throw Helga off the balloon, only this time it's more of a Kick Catch.
- Punk Punk: Steam Punk explorers vs. Sandal Punk Atlanteans.
- Punny Name: Mol-iere is the Tunnel King (see above).
- A Mol(e) is also a unit of measurement in Chemistry, and Mole is seen speaking in scientific terms for chemistry on several occasions (about dirt, obviously).
- The communications officer is Ms. Packard. Packard Bell was a radio manufacturer back around the time the movie took place.
- And of course, the cook is named Cookie.
- LT. L(yle) T. Rourke
- Reading Is Cool Aesop: Kida struggles to explain to Milo why their culture is rotting from within. Then it becomes apparent. Their own writing has become lost knowledge.
- Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted with Milo, who frequently stutters, repeats himself, or stumbles over wordsnote . Played straight with most other characters.
- Really 700 Years Old: The Atlanteans are positively ancient due to the restorative powers of the Heart of Atlantis. Kida herself is over 8,800 years old and still appears in her early 20's.
- Red Shirt Army: The submarine crews just keeps dying and dying. Between drowning, blowing up, rampant wildfires, falling down a crevice, getting shot and getting buried in molten lava only the main cast of seven survives the voyage. In total, 193 of the original 200 crew members died on the mission, which is quite a whopping number for a Disney movie.Rourke: (talking to only a few dozen people) Seven hours ago we started this expedition with two hundred of the finest men and women I have ever known. We are all that's left.
- The Reveal: Rourke is the villain. At first, everyone except Milo has no problem following his orders, which is kind of shocking for a Disney movie.
- Rock of Limitless Water: In a sense. The directors' commentary describes Atlantis' giant volcanic cavern as a closed system: water falls to the magma-heated bottom of the cave, rises as steam, falls as rain onto the city's plateau, and finally flows as waterfalls back to the magma.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Kida arguably, who has Milo help her find a way to preserve Atlantean society.
- Sadly Mythtaken: The idea that Atlantis was a culturally-rich society and had advanced technology is a relatively recent addition to the myth. Plato simply described it as an unbeatable naval power.
- Scenery Porn: Atlantis is gorgeous.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Milo has this attitude all along - as does Dr. Sweet, as it turns out. The more sympathetic members of the expedition adopt this attitude after Milo sets a moral example.
- Secret Test of Character: When Mr. Whitmore first gives Milo the Shepherd's Journal, he makes several doubtful comments as to its authenticity and reliability, as well as to the futility of any mission to find Atlantis. When Milo explains that he would know if it was a fake and that he would rent a rowboat himself if that was what it took to get an expedition going, Whitmore explains that that was exactly what he wanted to hear, and then offers Milo a place on the multi-million dollar expedition he had already been planning. In the sequel, the Dust Coyotes will spare the heroes the fate they dealt to the villian if they confess a secret they have kept. As it turns out, had they revealed the secret (about Atlantis existing), the Dust Coyotes (who knew the secret anyway) would have concluded they cannot be trusted to keep secrets and would punished them accordingly.
- See Water: Milo can read Atlantean glyphs underwater, while wearing glasses.
- Serrated Blade of Pain: The team's medic is quite fond of a large medical saw of his. Later said saw is used in the climax.
- Seldom Seen Species: Coelacanths.
- Sexophone: When we first meet Helga in Milo's apartment.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Inverted. Milo first meets Helga dolled up in a sexy dress. Later on he does the gasp and double take when he sees her on the expedition dressed casually (though not for the same reasons).
- Sherlock Scan: Moliere discerns pretty much everything about Milo simply by examining a piece of dirt under his fingernails. In the sequel, he uses this skill to find secret locations and navigate by matching dirt samples with geographical locales.
- Slasher Smile: The usually very-in-control Rourke while he is hunting Milo with the fire axe - it is pretty obvious he has lost it in light of his impending defeat.
- Standard Female Grab Area: Helga holds Kida by the upper arm while she's captive.
- Though to be fair Kida only submitted due the threat of being shot if she tried to get loose.
- Stealth Pun: Before the expedition sets off, Rourke says, "This should be enriching for all of us."
- Steampunk / Dieselpunk : Thanks to Mike Mignola's involvement.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Vinny loves explosives... but not to the point of being a Bomb Throwing Anarchist.
- Stupid Evil: Rourke didn't need to steal the Atlanteans' source to become rich; discovering a Lost Civilization alone would have made him rich anyway. In fact, the story ends with most of the cast coming back home and becoming rich thanks to the Atlantean "modest" reward; So Rourke was clearly an asshole just for the sake of it in the end.
Rourke: What's to know? It's big, it's shiny, it's gonna make us all rich.
- And all but declared In-Universe with this line:
- Symbiotic Possession: Crystal/Kida.
- Team Pet:
...and the little digging animal called Mole; he's your pet?
- Mole, sort of. Even lampshaded by Kida as she tries to make sense of the roles of the explorers:
- Obby in the sequel.
- Team Mom: Joshua Sweet takes up this role a lot of the time - he's the wisest and most compassionate member of the expedition by far( he is the first of the team to perform a Heel-Face Turn when Rourke harms the King), and can be often found taking care of the rest. His name is very well chose..
- Toilet Humor: "To whoever took the 'L' from the 'MOTOR POOL' sign, ha ha, we are very amused."
- Tomboy Princess: Kida.
- Took a Level in Badass: Milo
- Translation Convention: The Atlanteans, despite having their own Constructed Language, speak English amongst themselves for much of the film.
- Tribal Face Paint: The Atlanteans have varied designs on their faces.
- Tron Lines: Atlantean... technology (for lack of a better word) has a tribal-ish variation of this.
- True Companions: Milo bonds with most of the expedition members, to the point when they switch sides against Rourke's Evil Plan and save Atlantis.
- Tunnel King: Moliere.
- Twofer Token Minority: Dr. Sweet, African-American and Native American.
- Two-Fisted Tales: That's the genre, even though the hero is an inversion of the usual type.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Milo and Kida. Well, plenty of people think Milo is cute, but compared to him, Kida is wow.
- Underground City: Atlantis isn't just underwater, it's under the ocean floor.
- The Unpronounceable: Kida's real name, Kidagakash. Which is a bit odd, since it's not that exotic, it's Milo (a trained linguist) who finds it unpronounceable.
- Villainous Breakdown: As Milo ruins his attempt to carry the crystal containing Kida to the surface, Rourke starts attacking him with an axe:"I consider myself an even-tempered man; it takes a heck of a lot to get under my skin. But congratulations - you just won the solid gold kewpie doll!"
- Walk on Water: Kida as the Heart of Atlantis beckons to her.
- Wave Motion Gun: The Leviathan is armed with one, as the crew of the Ulysses quickly (and tragically) find out. The Atlantean personal flyers have a miniature version of it, which prove quite useful in the final battle with Rourke.
- Weather Dissonance: During the journey to Atlantis, there is a point where it is snowing and everything is covered in ice... underground.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Milo gives a sarcastic praise version of this towards Audrey, Sweet, Mole, Vinny, Cookie and Ms. Packard before the group had a Heel-Face Turn.
- Who's on First?: Kida gets a bit confused by some of the team having names that are also English words.Kida: Tell me more about your companions. Your physician, he is called Cookie?
Milo: No, that's Sweet.
Kida: What is?
Milo: The doctor. He's Sweet.
Kida: Oh, he is kindly.
Milo: No, no, no, that- that's his name.
Kida: His name is Kindly?
Milo: No, Sweet. Well, I mean, he's kindly, too.
Kida: So all of your doctors are sweet and kindly?
Milo: No. Well, I-I'm sure some are. Ours is, but that's not a requirement. You're missing the point.
Kida: You are confusing me.
Kida: Cookies are sweet but yours is not, Sweet is kindly but that is not his name, Audrey is sweet but she is not your doctor... and the little digging animal called Mole...he is your pet?
Milo: Close enough.
- World War I: The film takes place in 1914, right on the cusp of the first World War, and Milo fears that Rourke will probably try to sell the Heart of Atlantis to the Kaiser.
- Wrench Wench: Audrey.
- You Can Say That Again: Kida sees something amazing and says the Atlantean equivalent of "wow!" Milo is also amazed, and savvy enough with the language to say "You can say that again!"
- You Do NOT Want to Know: Sweet says this about Moliere's backstory, providing the quote for that page."Trust me on this: You don't want to know. Audrey, don't you tell him. You shouldn't have told me, but you did, so now I'm telling [Milo], you don't wanna know."
- According to Audrey in the sequel, it turns out that he was raised by naked mole rats. The truth of this is at best unclear.
- The Disney Adventures article on the film says he spent his childhood roaming through the sewers of Paris and that some of the dirt on him is from that time.
- According to Audrey in the sequel, it turns out that he was raised by naked mole rats. The truth of this is at best unclear.
- You Go Girl: Discussed about Audrey and her sister.Audrey: My father always wanted sons, right? One to run his machine shop and the other to be middleweight boxing champion. But he got my sister and me instead.Milo: So what happened to your sister?Audrey: She's 24 and 0 with a shot at the title next month.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Almost all of the Atlanteans have naturally white hair regardless of age.