Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a 2001 American traditionally animated science fiction action-adventure film created by Walt Disney Feature Animation - the first science fiction film in Disney's animated features canon and the 41st overall. Written by Tab Murphy, directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise and produced by Don Hahn, the film features an ensemble cast with the voices of Michael J. Fox, Cree Summer, James Garner, Leonard Nimoy, Don Novello, Phil Morris, Claudia Christian, Jacqueline Obradors and Jim Varney in his final role before his death. Set in 1914, the film tells the story of a young man who gains possession of a sacred book, which he believes will guide him and a crew of mercenaries to the lost city of Atlantis.
Development of the film began after production had finished on The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996). Instead of another musical, the production team decided to do an action-adventure film inspired by the works of Jules Verne. Atlantis was notable for adopting the distinctive visual style of comic book creator Mike Mignola. At the time of its release, the film had made greater use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) than any of Disney's previous animated features; it remains one of the few to have been shot in anamorphic format. Linguist Marc Okrand created a language specifically for use in Atlantis, while James Newton Howard provided the score. The film was released at a time when audience interest in animated films was shifting away from hand-drawn animation toward films with full CGI.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire premiered at the El Captain Theatre in Hollywood, California on June 3, 2001, and went into general release on June 15. Released by Walt Disney Pictures, Atlantis performed modestly at the box office. Budgeted at 100 million dollars, the film grossed over 186 million dollars worldwide, 84 million dollars of which was earned in North America. Due to the film's lackluster box office performance, Disney quietly canceled both a spin-off television series and an underwater attraction a its Disneyland theme park. Some critics praised it as a unique departure from typical Disney animated features, while others disliked it due to the unclear target audience and absence of songs. Atlantis was nominated for a number of awards, including seven Annie Awards, and won Best Sound Editing at the 2002 Golden Reel Awards. The film was released on VHS and DVD on January 29, 2002; the Blu-ray released on June 11, 2013. Atlantis is considered to be a cult favorite, due in part to Mignola's unique artistic influence. A direct-to-video sequel, Atlantis: Milo's Return, was released in 2003.
A large tidal wave triggered by a distant explosion threatens to drown the island of Atlantis. In the midst of an evacuation from the capital city, the Queen of Atlantis is caught by a strange, hypnotic blue light and lifted up into the ''Heart of Atlantis'', a powerful crystal protecting the city. The crystal consumes her and creates a dome barrier that protects the city's innermost district. She leaves behind a young daughter, Princess Kida, as the island sinks beneath the ocean.
Thousands of years later in 1914, Milo James Thatch, a cartographer and linguist at the Smithsonian Institution who is marginalized for his research on Atlantis, believes that he has found The Shepherd's Journal, an ancient manuscript that contains directions to the lost island. After the museum board declines his proposal to search for the journal, a mysterious woman, Helga Sinclair, introduces Milo to Preston B. Whitmore, an eccentric millionaire. Whitmore has already funded a successful effort to retrieve the journal as repayment of a debt to Milo's grandfather, and recruits Milo to lead an expedition to Atlantis as soon as he receives it.
The expedition departs with a team of specialists led by Commander Lyle Rourke, who also led the journal recovery expedition. The crew includes Vinny Santorini, a demolitions expert; Mole Molière, a geologist; Dr Joshua Sweet, a medical officer; Audrey Ramirez, a mechanic; Mrs. Wilhelmina Packard, a radio operator; and Cookie Farnsworth, a mess cook. They set out in the Ulysses, a massive submarine, but are soon attacked by the monstrous Leviathan, a robotic lobster-like creature that guards Atlantis' entrance. The Ulysses is destroyed, but Milo, Rourke and part of the crew escape and make their way to an underground cavern, described in the journal as the entrance to Atlantis.
After traveling through a network of caves and a dormant volcano, the team reaches Atlantis. They are greeted by Kida who resembles a young woman and discover that the Atlantean language is the basis of many existing languages (which allows the Atlantean to understand English). Kida enlists Milo's aid in deciphering the Atlantean written language, long forgotten by the natives. By swimming deep within the city's submerged ruins and translating underwater murals, Milo helps Kida uncover the nature of the Heart of Atlantis; it supplies the Atlanteans with power and longevity through the crystals worn around their necks. He is surprised this is not mentioned in the journal, but upon examination realizes a page is missing.
Returning to the surface with Kida, Milo discovers Rourke has the missing page. Rourke and the crew betray Milo, intending to bring the crystal to the surface and sell it for profit. Rourke mortally wounds the King of Atlantis while trying to extract information about the crystal's location, but finds its location for himself hidden beneath the King's throne room. The crystal detects a threat and merges with Kida. Rourke and the mercenaries lock Kida in a crate and prepare to leave the city. Knowing that when the crystal is gone the Atlanteans will die, Milo berates his friends for betraying their consciences and ultimately convinces them to leave Rourke and remain in Atlantis. The King explains to Milo that the crystal has developed a consciousness - it thrives on the collective emotions of the Atlanteans and provides power, protection and longevity in return. It will find a royal host when Atlantis is in danger. He then reveals that the sinking of Atlantis was caused when he attempted to use it as a weapon of war. As he dies he gives his crystal to Milo, telling him to save Atlantis and Kida. Encouraged by Sweet, Milo rallies the crew and the Atlanteans to stop Rourke.
In the ensuing battle inside the volcano, Helga and the other mercenaries including Rourke are all killed. Milo and the others successfully fly the crystal back to the city, as the volcano erupts. With lava flowing towards the city, Kida (in her crystal form) rises into the air and creates a protective shield. The lava breaks away harmlessly, showing a restored Atlantis, and the crystal returns Kida to Milo. The surviving crew members return to the surface and promise to keep the discovery of Atlantis a secret. Having fallen in love with Kida, Milo stays behind to help her rebuild the lost empire.
- Michael J. Fox as Milo James Thatch
- James Garner as Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke
- Cree Summer as Princess Kidagakash ''Kida'' Nedakh (Natalie Strom as young Kida)
- Don Novello as Vincenzo ''Vinny'' Santorini
- Phil Morris as Doctor Joshua Strongerbear Sweet
- Claudia Christian as Lieutenant Helga Katrina Sinclair
- Jacqueline Obradors as Audrey Rocio Ramirez
- Florence Stanley as Wilhelmina Bertha Packard
- David Ogden Stiers as Fenton Q. Harcourt
- John Mahoney as Preston B. Whitmore
- Jim Varney as Jebidiah Allardyce ''Cookie'' Farnsworth
- Corey Burton as Gaetan ''Mole'' Molière
- Leonard Nimoy as King Kashekim Nedakh
- Additional voices: Jim Cummings, Patrick Pinney & Steven Barr
- Loop Group: Mickie McGowan, Jack Angel, Bob Bergen, Rodger Bumpass, Jennifer Darling, Paul Eiding, Luck Hari, Sherry Lynn, Phil Proctor & Bill Striglos
- Where the Dream Takes You (performed by Mya)
- Atlantis 2002 (performed by No Angels and Donovan) for the German release of the movie
International releases Edit
For information about international dubs and releases, Atlantis: The Lost Empire/International.