Atlantis: The Lost Empire is the 40th Disney animated feature produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures on June 15, 2001. The sci-fi action movie was written by Tab Murphy, directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, and produced by Don Hahn. Set in the year 1914, the film tells the story of a young linguist who gains possession of a sacred book which he believes will guide him to the mythical city of Atlantis. He enlists a band of ragtag archaeologists and excavators to find the city, but struggles against mutineers who want to sabotage the mission for their own profit. The film was noted for the using the simple artistic style of comic book artist Mike Mignola as well as continuing the recent Disney attempts at producing animated features without musical interludes. Atlantis: The Lost Empire received mostly mixed reviews and achieved only modest success at the box-office.
Many centuries later, in 1914, the story cuts to Milo Thatch, an aspiring cartographer/linguist/explorer who works as a boiler operator in the basement of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Milo believes that his research has revealed the location of an ancient manuscript called the Sheppard's Journal that allegedly reveals the location of Atlantis. After his request for money to fund the expedition are rejected (the board of directors have heard Milo's story many times) a dejected Milo heads home where he is greeted by Helga Sinclair, who invites Milo to see her employer, Preston B. Whitmore. Whitmore is an eccentric millionaire who attended Georgetown University with Milo's grandfather, Thaddeus Thatch, in 1866. Thaddeus was able to locate the Journal in Iceland, which fulfilled a bet between the two for Whitmore to fund an expedition. Preston wants Milo to translate the Journal and lead an expedition to Atlantis and Milo agrees.
Milo sets out aboard the Ulysses, a submarine headed up by Commander Lyle Rourke, a military man, and Helga. Among the crew are Vincenzo 'Vinny' Santorini, the crew's Italian demolitions expert; Gaetan 'Mole' Molière, a crazed French geologist; Dr. Joshua Sweet, the ship's medical officer; Audrey Ramirez, a teenaged tomboy mechanic; Jebidiah 'Cookie' Farnsworth, the ship's Western redneck cook; and Wilhelmina Packard, an elderly communications expert.
As the team tries to find to a crevice that leads to an underground cavern leading to Atlantis, the Ulysses is attacked and destroyed by Leviathan, a gigantic lobster-like creature soon revealed to be a machine. Milo, Rourke, and the remaining crew members escape using small sub-pods and three escape subs. They flee into the underground cavern they had been searching for. Along the way, all but one of the aqua evacs (carrying Sweet, Audrey, Cookie, Packard, Rourke, Helga, and several dozen crew) and one sub pod (carrying Mole and Vinny) are destroyed. The crew then proceeds to explore the cavern, unaware they are being tracked by a group of Atlanteans.
After their camp is destroyed by mysterious glowing insects, which set whatever they come into contact with on fire, the team attempts to cross a bridge, but ends up at the bottom of a dormant volcano when the bridge collapses under the weight of the team's vehicles. Using his drilling machine (officially known as the Digger), Mole drills a tunnel out of the volcano. After doing so, the crew are met by Kida, now a young woman, albeit thousands of years old. Kida leads the group to her aging father, King Kashekim Nedakh, who tells them to leave. Rourke requests the King allow his team to stay the night in order to rest, and resupply, and the King grants it. Meanwhile, Kida enlists Milo's help in deciphering the runes throughout the city, which the Atlantean people can no longer read. She and Milo discover the nature of the Heart of Atlantis, but can not figure out how it works or where it is, because one of the pages is missing.
After some time, Milo and Kida are surrounded by Rourke along with his mercenaries and the entire crew; only to discover that Rourke reveals that he has the missing page, and that he and Helga intend to sell the Heart of Atlantis. Rourke then offers Milo to join him, so he can locate the crystal. Milo then challenges Rourke, stating that he isn't a mercenary; Rourke replies he'd rather be called an "adventure capitalist".
Rourke decides that he has had enough of Milo's resistance and instead proceeds to doing things his way; he forces Milo into being his translator and then confronts King Nedakh. When King Nedakh refuses to disclose the location of the Heart, Rourke fatally punches him. Rourke then forces Milo to find the Heart for him. Once found beneath the throne, the Heart reaches into Kida's mind. As Milo and Rourke argue, the Heart of Atlantis speaks through the possessed Kida, saying, "Soleshma-du note, Milo Thatchdu. Guan kene sus-ene", meaning "All will be well, Milo Thatch. Be not afraid." in Atlantean. Kida then strides toward the crystal, which levitates her up to it and merges with her, as Sinclair and Milo (Rourke is never surprised, as Audrey will say) watch in surprise and are all equally shocked. Rourke locks Kida in a steel crate and prepares to leave for the caves.
When Rourke leaves Milo behind, Vinnie, Audrey, Mole, Cookie, and Packard, bothered by Rourke treating Milo and the Atlanteans harshly, decide to stay behind as well. Dying of internal bleeding, King Nedakh tells Milo about the Heart of Atlantis, explaining why the crystal has a mind of its own and the reason Atlantis sank beneath the ocean. The Heart is a collection of emotions from previous Atlanteans and would choose one of royal blood to protect itself. In return it provides longevity, power and protection. Nedakh arrogantly tried to use it as a weapon of war but it proved too powerful to control, resulting in Atlantis' fate. He hid it underneath the city so history won't be repeated, as well as to keep Kida from suffering the same fate as her mother, for if she remains bonded to the crystal, she will be lost to it forever. The King then gives his crystal to Milo and tells him that his burden would have becomes Kida's when the time was right, but instead will fall to Milo. He tells Milo to save Atlantis and Kida, and passes away. Encouraged by a quote made by his grandfather from Sweet, Milo teaches the Atlanteans how to reactivate their flying vehicles.
Milo and the Atlanteans engage Rourke and his mercenaries inside the dormant volcano. A lengthy air battle ensues, and it's the attacking Atlanteans with their flying "stone fish" against the defending mercenaries with their "Whitmore Wings". After the battle has been fought, Rourke and Helga are killed along with Rourke's mercenaries who either fled or died during the battle. However, the blast from Rourke's airship triggers a volcanic eruption that threatens to destroy the city. Milo returns to Atlantis with the Heart/Kida in tow. The Heart/Kida activates the city's sentinels, who erect an energy shield to stop the flow of lava.
The Atlanteans reward the surviving crew and return them to the surface. The crew, now insanely wealthy, return to Whitmore's mansion in Washington and rehearse their cover story to hide the existence of Atlantis. Milo remains behind in Atlantis, marrying Kida, and together they rebuild their civilization.
Atlantis is notable as one of the few animated films shot in the anamorphic widescreen process. To prevent having to purchase and implement larger animation desks, longer animation paper, and so forth, the production team resorted to working within a smaller frame on the same paper and equipment used for the standard aspect ratio Disney films.
Some viewers have noted similarities between the Milo character and motion picture language consultant Dr. Marc Okrand, who developed the Atlantean language for this movie (Okrand has said that animator John Pomeroy sketched him, claiming not to know what a linguist looked or behaved like). Additionally, an interesting aspect of the film is that very few of the characters are under the age of 30, a rare component for a Disney animated feature. Also, Atlantis is the first animated Disney feature since 1995's Pocahontas to have a black character, Dr. Joshua Sweet, in the roster of main characters. Atlantis was one of the last Disney films to include a smoking character, Packard, a minor character who consistently puffed a cigarette. According to co-directer Kirk Wise, the character of Moliere was originally very professorial, but one of the story artists changed the concept to that of a "horrible little burrowing creature with a wacky coat and strange headgear".
Not seen in the original film, but shown as an extra in the DVD release and the PC game, Atlantis: Trial By Fire, was a deleted scene that was intended to be an alternate beginning to the movie. This involves a Viking war party, in which the leader has the Shepherd's Journal, and is following the directions in order to find Atlantis and plunder it. However, the Vikings are swiftly dispatched by the Leviathan and the journal is thrown overboard.
The film was originally supposed to provide a springboard for an animated television series titled Team Atlantis, which would have detailed the further adventures of the characters from the film. However, because of its disappointing box office intake, the series was scrapped. On May 20, 2003, Disney released a direct-to-video sequel called Atlantis: Milo's Return, which consisted mostly of stories originally produced for the aborted series.
Milo Thatch, Princess Kida, Wilhemina Packard and Commander Roark were featured as guests in House of Mouse.
In addition, several video games were released for various consoles of the time, most notably the PC game, Atlantis; Trial By Fire. There were two main "campaigns" the game; Search For The Journal, which events surrounded the expedition to Iceland in order to find the journal. This segment of the game places the player as one of Rourke's mercenaries (or as the game simply states "Storm Troopers") and must fight their way through various obstacles and enemies, which are called "The Keepers". The player remains in constant radio contact throughout the game, along with the voices of most of the actors in the movie. The "reward" for finding the Journal is a trailer of the movie, also, the player can pilot the Whitmore Wing, as seen in the movie, the aircraft Rourke's mercenaries would use in their attempts to fight off Milo's attack. The second "campaign" of the game; Trial By Fire, takes place during the events of the movie, and the player takes on the role of Milo Thatch. The game follows the movie very closely, and the player goes from finding Atlantis to defending it. Atlantis: Trial By Fire also had a multiplayer component, which featured modes like deathmatch, CTF, and air battles. It also included a 10 minute documentary on how the movie was made.
The weaponry used in the film is of the correct time period (1914) such as: the Lee Enfield, the Lewis Gun, the Broomhandle Mauser and a variant of the Luger. There are various models of Browning .30 Cal Machine Guns mounted to planes and other vehicles as well.
|Michael J. Fox||Milo James Thatch|
|Cree Summer||Kidagakash "Kida" Nedakh|
|James Garner||Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke|
|Corey Burton||Gaetan "Mole" Moliére|
|Don Novello||Vincenzo "Vinny" Santorini||Santorini is the name for a chain of volcanic islands that erupted and devastated the Minoan civilization. It is considered one of the possible origins of the Atlantean legend.|
|Phil Morris||Doctor Joshua Strongbear Sweet|
|Claudia Christian||Lieutenant Helga Katrina Sinclair|
|Jacqueline Obradors||Audrey Rocio Ramirez|
|Leonard Nimoy||King Kashekim Nedakh|
|John Mahoney||Preston B. Whitmore|
|Florence Stanley||Wilhelmina Bertha Packard|
|Jim Varney||Jedidiah Allardyce "Cookie" Farnsworth||Varney died during production, and several lines were spoken by a sound alike.|
|David Ogden Stiers||Fenton Q. Harcourt||This character's name is an obvious allusion to Star Trek: The Original Series recurring character "Harcourt Fenton Mudd," commonly known as "Harry".|
|Directed by|| Gary Trousdale|
|Produced by||Don Hahn|
|Original Story by|| Gary Trousdale|
|Screenplay by||Tab Murphy|
|Original Score by||James Newton Howard|
|Associate Producer||Kendra Haaland|
|Art Director||David Goetz|
|Production Design||Mike Mignola, Matt Codd, Ricardo Delgado, Jim E. Martin|
|Film Editor||Ellen Keneshea|
|Artistic Supervisors|| John Sanford (Story supervisor)|
Ed Ghertner (Layout supervisor)
Lisa Keene (Background supervisor)
Marshall Toomey (Clean-up supervisor)
Benjamin Stegemann (Animation supervisor)
Marlon West (Effects supervisor)
Kiran Bhakta Joshi (Computer Graphics supervisor)
|Artistic Coordinator||Chris Jenkins|
|Supervising Animators|| John Pomeroy (Milo)|
Michael Surrey (Rourke)
Randy Haycock (Princess Kida)
Russ Edmonds (Vinny)
Ron Husband (Dr Sweet)
Yoshimichi Tamura (Helga)
Anne Marie Bardwell (Audrey)
David Pruiksma (Mrs Packard/Mr Harcourt)
Shawn Keller (Preston Whitmore/Cookie)
Anthony DeRosa (Molière)
Michael Cedeno (Atlantian King)
Mike 'Moe' Merell (Leviathan)
|Production Manager||Igor Khait|
|NOMINATED||Individual Achievement in Directing|| Gary Trousdale (Director)|
Kirk Wise (Director)
|NOMINATED||Individual Achievement in Storyboarding||Chris Ure (Story Artist)|
|NOMINATED||Individual Achievement in Production Design||David Goetz (Art Director)|
|NOMINATED||Individual Achievement in Effects Animation||Marlon West (Effects Supervisor)|
|NOMINATED||Individual Achievement in Voice Acting - Female||Florence Stanley ("Mrs Packard")|
|NOMINATED||Individual Achievement in Voice Acting - Male||Leonard Nimoy ("King Nedakh")|