Week 41: Atlantis: The Lost Empire

An Ambitious Animated Action-Adventure

The good guys

Originally Released: 2001

Atlantis. It’s one of the world’s more interesting and enduring ancient legends. As such, I am a little surprised the topic hasn’t appeared more often in recent Hollywood movies. Heck, it hasn’t even made its way to the ‘Transformers’ franchise (not yet, anyway), which up to this point has managed to mess with more Human history and myths than it deserves (Hopefully I didn’t just jinx it…).

That being said, the story of Atlantis is one that I would envision to be difficult to make into viable entertainment. But it is an interesting enough legend that it deserved a shot at being the subject of a whole movie. This is one reason why I applaud Disney for tackling this legend head on. The fact that Disney had the guts to completely abandon its tried-and-mostly-true formula of the 90’s and branch out into a more epic, non-musical, action/adventure movie is very impressive in my eyes. And it is even more so to think that they decided to do tackle the topic in a traditional animated film instead of live-action. Disney definitely deserves an “A” for their ambition on this one.

Milo

And for the most part, I believe they succeeded in making a fun and entertaining movie. Is Atlantis: The Lost Empire perfect? No, not by a long shot. I suppose if I were a movie critic, I could criticize the film for being a bit too formulaic, for including a cadre of one-dimensional, cliched character stereotypes, and more. But luckily, I’m not a movie critic, so I don’t need to worry about that, and I can just enjoy the movie and overlook its weaknesses. There are many things I do quite enjoy about Atlantis.

First off, I love the setting of the film. Set in 1914, it manages to bridge the age of exploration (this is a movie about exploring, after all) with the newer age of industrial machines and gadgetry. It’s a combination that can really produce some amazing possibilities, if you think about it. Granted, the submarine is a little out of its time, but I just throw that little tidbit into my list of “overlooked weaknesses” and enjoy the ride.

Leviathan

Another aspect of Atlantis that I enjoy is the art style and color scheme. If you like blue, then you will probably like the colors of Atlantis. While on that topic, let me throw out a shameless plug for an overpriced Disney iPad app. Check out the photo below. This is probably my favorite part of the Disney: Animated app. It is a section that has all 53 Disney animated features, frame-by-frame, but condensed into tiny slivers, and showing what the overall colors end up looking like in each film. It is utterly enthralling to me! If you haven’t already checked out the app, I’d recommend it.

Cool app.

Cool app.

But enough on that. In the characters department, Michael J. Fox serves up one of his many likable performances as Milo Thatch (not & Otis…I know you were thinking it). It also has the likes of Leanard Nimoy, James Garner, and Ernest lending their voices to the film.

Why doesn't Kida get any Disney Princess love? If Tiana can be a princess, than surely Kida, a real princess, can be one, too.

Why doesn’t Kida get any Disney Princess love? If Tiana can be a princess, than surely Kida, a real princess, can be one, too.

As for Atlantis itself, Disney could have gone in any number of directions to depict this ancient lost city. They may have borrowed a bit from the Miyazaki classic Castle in the Sky, but the finished vision of Atlantis is at times breathtaking, and almost always at the very least interesting to look at.

City

I don’t really know what the general population thinks of Atlantis: the Lost Empire. At best, it has become a cult classic, but I don’t hear too much chatter directed towards this film. Some may consider this film to be the first in Disney’s downward spiral that led to the death of 2D animation. If so, that is an unfortunate distinction. This was one of the few Disney films I saw in the movie theater during the 2000’s “decade of death.” But I enjoyed the film a lot back then, and I still enjoy it today.

swimming

Crystal

This was pretty cool.

Cool Shot

And so was this.

Milo Thatch and Kida

Yes, Milo, I think it’s pretty good, too.

 

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Week 40: The Emperor’s New Groove

Pretty Groovy

lever

Originally Released: 2000

Ok, as fair warning, let me just get it out of the way and say that this post isn’t going to discuss much of The Emperor’s New Groove. Rather, I suppose most of you are wondering if I died or something and why so much time has passed without any entries to this blog.

Well, as it turns out, life can be a complicated and busy thing, and certain leisurely activities tend to fall by the wayside. The last few months has been filled with schoolwork, graduation, moving, new jobs, and various other exciting (and exhausting) endeavors. Perhaps I could have sacrificed more sleep to write a once-weekly post, but anyone who actually knows me would know that that’s just not going to happen.

Yes, I think I can relate to poor Kuzco in this picture - minus the whole bump on the head, of course.

I think I could relate to poor Kuzco in this picture at times in the past few months. Except the whole bump on the head, of course. And the villainous woman. And the Llama transformation.

Anyway, I am happy to report that I fulfilled what I consider to be the most important part of my goal set in January 2013: I actually did watch all 52 (53 if you count Frozen) Disney canon films before the year ended! It took some dedication, careful coordination (thanks to my family for bearing with me on Christmas break), and empty slates at the end of the year so I could do double features, triple-headers, and even a quadruple-header to make it happen. My December 31st, 2013 concluded with a triple-header featuring Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, and Wreck-it Ralph. Personally, I don’t know of a better way to spend a lazy New Year’s Eve.

The bad part about finishing the “watch” part of the goal, however, is that it leaves precious little incentive to conclude the other end of the goal set in early 2013 – writing in this blog. Don’t get me wrong, I have found over the past year that I really enjoy writing, and it is fun comparing opinions with those of you who read this blog. But with all the things happening, it was hard to dedicate the time to the task.

sword in the stone

Slow and steady, right? Better to finish late than to never finish at all.

Despite all that, I must say that all this time I have had this nagging urge to finish what I started. I don’t like leaving things unfinished, and having a subtitle that says “52 animated films” on my blog – but only having 39 entries in it – is something that has been extremely bothersome all this time. Besides, I am so close to finishing! Thus, I have a new goal: complete the remaining entries in the blog post by the end of the summer.

Ok, with that out of the way, on to The Emperor’s New Groove. What can I say about this film? It’s just a lot of fun. It has to be the most zany and irreverent of all the Disney films, and it is better for it. I’m a fan of the David Spade/John Goodman combo, and I usually enjoy Seinfeld alum appearances. Oh, and that Tom Jones opener? Yes please (but if only it would have been this, though…nothing tops the Carlton Dance)!

I think I will close with that (I told you discussion would be short on this one), but here is a collection of some of my favorite scenes from this great Disney film. Feel free to add comments to discuss this movie further!

pinata

Pacha and Old Man

vicious kitty

Jump rope

Ahh, feels great to be back in the swing of things, finishing this blog!

Ahh, feels great to be back in the swing of things, finishing this blog!