Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5  
Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J Fox) has a dream - to rediscover the lost city of Atlantis. A friend of his deceased grandfather agrees to bankroll an expedition, so Milo and a party of new-look stereotypes - female engineer; huge-but-gentle African-American; flower-loving explosives expert - are soon bound for a lost island.

The picture itself is a strange fish, and not at all what you'd expect of Disney. The look and feel is strongly reminiscent of film noir, complete with femme fatale and - believe it or not - a rather fine Peter Lorre tribute in the form of The Mole (voiced by Corey Burton).

The nods to noir aren't the whole story, though. The film also partakes of some of the best pulp fiction clichés, with lost super-technology from the sunken civilisation providing some plot (the villains want to steal the super-energy source without counting the cost in lives, yadda, yadda, yadda), but more importantly, the excuse for a superb aerial dogfight in which biplanes and balloons face off against Atlantean one-person skyplanes. And naturally there's a romance with the King's daughter.

Try to imagine "The Maltese Falcon" crossed with the implausibility and super-technology of Sax Rohmer's "Fu Manchu" novels, and then add the spectacle of "Star Wars", or perhaps "The Rocketeer" for sheer visceral excitement.

All this, and not a singing candlestick in sight. It's a brave move for Disney, and one that deserves to succeed.

End Credits

Director: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

Writer: Tab Murphy

Stars: Michael J Fox, James Garner, Cree Summer, Don Novello, Claudia Christian, Phil Morris, Jacqueline Obradors, Florence Stanley, Jim Varney, John Mahoney, Leonard Nimoy, Corey Burton, David Ogden Stiers

Genre: Action, Animation, Adventure, Family

Length: 95 minutes

Cinema: 19 October 2001

Country: USA

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