Like a lot of people, I had heard of Disney's Atlantis,
but never actually seen it, and welcomed the chance to actually do so. In hindsight, I'm not entirely sure what all the fuss was about. While Atlantis
is a decent movie, it's hardly an overlooked classic, and is overall fairly forgettable.
There are a number of small problems with the film, but I think they all stem from needing more refinement; this could have been a great movie if there was more time to polish the script and refine the story. The pacing is particularly rushed, zipping from one set piece to the next like a restless student hurrying through a classroom report. As a result, the trip to Atlantis feels less challenging than a long bus ride, and moments that should have been unforgettably awe-inspiring end up feeling deflated.
Another thing that is lacking is characterization — just about everyone comes off as a one-note caricature, with no time spent building any emotional ties between them and each other or the audience. Because of this, the team's betrayal of Milo
becomes predictable, and the later Heel-Face Turn against Rourke
feels perfunctory, driven by the script rather than any character-driven loyalty and motive. The relatively large cast doesn't help; several characters could have been combined or omitted with no effect on the plot, and nearly all of the secondary characters fade out of focus in the climax anyway. The flat voice acting by James Garner and Leonard Nimoy don't help any — apparently, no one involved felt motivated to get any sort of performance out of them, and the phrase "phoned it in" was never more apt.
I don't want to seem like I am completely negative on Atlantis.
The setting and atmosphere is delightfully Victorian, especially in the beginning, there are a few genuinely entertaining moments (such as the "Who's on First?
" exchange), and the character designs by Mike Mignola are a welcome break from the typical Disney style. But that isn't enough to carry the movie, and in the end I feel that the premise could have yielded something better than what finally hit the screen.