Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Then around approximately 4:45 p.m., the office phone rang for me. Some women I’d never met before (or even heard of) had apparently been trying to contact me all week. She was offering me a chance to see an advance screening of “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”…

…two months before the release date.

Suffice to say, I danced and agreed in a heartbeat.

But you didn’t come for my pathetic ranting. You want a review of “Atlantis.” Well, let me put it this way, it was spectacular!

If you don’t know, “Atlantis” is Disney’s big summer animated flick. But instead of singing and dancing, it’s a nice little action movie along the lines of Indiana Jones. The story is about a guy named Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox), a dorky linguistic expert whom has crazy theories about the mythical Atlantis that no one believes. Of course, in movies, that can only mean he’s 100% right. And that he is. So, along with a crew organized by an eccentric millionaire, Milo goes in search of the mythic land under the ocean.

So what’s to love about this movier Just about everything. First of all, it’s nothing like it’s predecessors. I’m a big Disney fan, but I too get tired of bursting into song (only a few movies get it right). So when you have an action-plot, the last thing you want is Milo singing about diving to find Atlantis.

Honestly, what sets this movie apart from all its predecessors is the simple fact that this could EASILY have been made into one expensive live-action flick. Every sequence, while breathtakingly beautiful in terms of animation, could have been equally beautiful live-action. The stunts, the pananoramic images (2:35:1 widescreen used to the max), the freakishly believable effects that look both hand drawn and CGI and real, it all comes down to quality work and this film is a perfect diamond. Indiana Jones 4 could only hope to be this intense.

Plot wise, Disney’s done an excellent job with the advertising. Originally, they make you think it’s about getting stuck trying to find the ruins and needing to get out alive. Then they show you that the ruins are a dupe and the city is alive with real people. And then, you still have no idea what’s going on with the floating chick, the mysterious language (an actual real language, created both verbally and writing-wise) and just who, if anyone, is the bad guy.

Honestly, it’s really difficult to NOT gush about this film. I actually came out of the theater pissed off that I couldn’t go right back in to watch it again. It’s an epic work of art I hope raises the standards for animation. For a long time, animation has been struggling to show the world that cartoons did not equal silly kiddie stuff. “Atlantis” proves it with one quick blow.

Ok, yes, there were some faults. The character of Mole is horribly annoying and every time he’s on screen, I want to shrill in pain because he’s tainting such a work of art. I mean, a French guy obsessed with dirt to the point that he can taste it and understand it and he talks to it and he sleeps in itr Not very funny. The other problemr The ending. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the ending of the action and the resolution are all great, but it’s one little scene, post resolution that I can’t stand. It wasn’t necessary and really ruins my respect for all the characters and the writers and the directors for letting the scene get by. I guess they needed to tie up loose ends, but this was not the way to do it. I’d rather have an open-ending than this.

So what else can I say outside of I want this on DVD (it’s not only set the standard for animation on DVD, but it’ll have gonzo features. Trust me, I’ve seen a number of them. Don’t believe mer In a few months, when the disc comes out, expect a silly feature designed to look like a ‘50s informational video about how to speak Atlantean. Then you’ll believe me to be either honest or psychic.) When “Atlantis” finally comes out, go see it. If you like action, you’ll love it. If you like drama, you’ll love it. If you dig a good mystery, this has got the plot-twists you crave. If you love animation, then you cannot afford to miss this movie.

If you like being happy, go catch “Atlantis.” And just endure Mole. He’s not that major a player.

Rating: A-