Atlantis: The Lost Empire / Atlantis: Milo's Return Two Movie Collection Blu-ray Review
ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE (6/10)
I have always been a fan of Disney’s animated entries, at least those that originated for theatrical release. They’re kind of like pizza, even when they are bad, they’re still pretty good. But the late ‘90s and early ‘00s actually kind of proved me wrong with a slew of movies that were just a bit short of the quality we’ve come to expect. For many, ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE was one of those films… deeply disappointing and somewhat confusing because of the aura surrounding Disney’s films at the time… but how well has it held up? Disney recently released the Blu-ray ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE/ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN Two Movie Collection, which features the two movies on 1 Blu-ray disc and 2 DVDs, one with each respective movie.
ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE is the story of Milo James Thatch, a linguist who works in a museum trying to live down his father’s reputation while, at the same time, carrying on the very research into Atlantis that has destroyed his family’s work. Milo is contacted by a friend of his grandfather’s who is willing to finance the entire venture to try to save his family’s name, and the rest, as they say, is history. Milo gratefully accepts the offer and sets out with a crew of mercenaries to find the lost city. Only when they arrive they find more than they could have ever expected – an entire living civilization hidden deep beneath the ocean.
ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE is actually a heck of a lot more fun than I remembered, featuring lots of neat animation and action elements that really weren’t the norm for Disney pictures of the time. Featuring the voice talents of Michael J. Fox (as Milo), James Garner (as Commander Rourke) and the incredible John Mahoney (as Preston B. Whitmore), ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE has some great moments and some really snappy voice acting. To top it off the story is actually quite a bit of fun and while not necessarily a Disney “classic”, it’s a really good flick.
ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN (2/10)
In an interesting turn of events, ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN is included as the second “film” in this two movie collection, but this was never intended to be used as a feature and it is clear from the first second. This collection of three segments was intended to launch an ATLANTIS television show for Disney, but with the non-success of ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE in theaters, the show was cancelled. So, instead of gutting the project Disney hastily stitched them together, added an ending and released them straight to home video. Now, to be fair, my 4-year-old son really enjoys this side of the Blu-ray, and as the shows intended audience I have to think they maybe did something right. But the whole thing is so despairingly bad it makes me wish I could delete this half of the Blu-ray somehow without damaging the first film.
The basis of the story is the team investigating strange occurrences across the globe, which Mr. Whitmore thinks could be attributed to Atlanteans or, worse, Atlantean technology. Each segment of the “film” focuses on a single artifact or situation, and like the name implies they require that many of the original group of characters return (though not all the voice actors). The stories are not poorly written but the animation and sound are simply subpar when compared to the original movie, included on the very same disc. I’m not sure the conversion to Blu-ray could look any worse. My suggestion is to avoid this one and stick with the first film.
Video: (1080p, 2.35:1 Widescreen) The HD presentation of ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE looks great and is a testament to Disney’s ongoing efforts to deliver an amazing product for home viewing. Sadly, ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE/ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN Two Movie Collection as a whole gets a much lower score because of the absolutely cheap look and feel of the second entry, ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio is similarly disparate between the two “films” included in the ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE/ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN Two Movie Collection. Very nicely presented on the original film, poor as the animation on the second “film”.
ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE Audio Commentary with Producer Don Hahn and Directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise (01:35:43) This is a great commentary with lots of fun information about creating the story, putting together the cast, pretty much anything and everything you could ever want to know about the first movie. A great addition to the ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE/ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN Two Movie Collection.
The Making of ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE (01:59:51) This 11-part feature covers everything from the writing to the design and animation and finally voicing and post production. Great for the enthusiast, this is a welcome feature on the ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE/ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN Two Movie Collection. The filmmakers really wanted ATLANTIS to feel like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and other great movies from that era. I’m not sure that happened but they did a pretty good job. This includes the following segments (Thank you for including a “Play All” Button!): Tour Intro; The Journey Begins; Creating Mythology; Finding the Story; Designing ATLANTIS; Setting the Scene; The Voices of ATLANTIS; Creating the Characters; Digital Production; Music and Sound; and ATLANTIS Found.
How to Speak Atlantean (02:02) A cute, old-timey featurette shot like school movies with the kitschy music and scratched up images you might remember from being a child. A short but fun feature on ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE/ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN Two Movie Collection.
Disneypedia – ATLANTIS: Fact or Fiction? (06:38) This standard definition port from the DVD is a special feature that is corny when it could be cool. Disappointing but interesting for little kids, another reasonable (if unnecessary) feature on ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE/ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN Two Movie Collection.
Publicity – Also included on ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE/ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN Two Movie Collection is this menu which features Trailer #1 (01:09), Trailer #2 (01:16), and Trailer #3 (02:54) for ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE. Not sure why these aren’t in high definition. Disappointing Disney. Disappointing.
Deleted Scenes (16:57) Four scenes are included on the ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE/ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN Two Movie Collection with ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE. They are unfinished and wildly uneven, though I actually think I would have enjoyed them if they had taken the time to finish them before putting them on the Blu-ray. (By the way, I don’t think you can include a scene as “deleted” when it was never animated past the storyboard phase!) The deleted scenes include The Viking Prologue (02:07); The Squid Bats; The Lava Whales; and finally The Land Beast (14:50).
Deleted Scene – Kraken Baby Sequence (00:32) Thankfully the only special feature on ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN, this is unquestionably awful. Maybe the ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE/ATLANTIS: MILO’S RETURN Two Movie Collection should have just included the one movie? Maybe? Oh, to dream.