Making the Grades
DISNEY ANIMATORS FIRST TOOK US underwater to meet their turbulent teen mermaid Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Now they're taking another plunge to look for the mythical Atlantis: The Lost Empire. But this time they've left the standard fare of spontaneous songs and dancing on the shoreline and have given us a purely animated action flick with loads of airborne attacks, chase scenes, and heavy duty ammunition.
Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox) is an earnest, sometimes bumbling, young cartographer, bent on finding the lost city of Atlantis. His pleas for funding fall on the deaf ears of some stuffy old museum directors who quickly douse his hopes for help. All seems lost until a seductive and mysterious young woman (Claudia Christian) comes calling at Thatch's home with an offer he can't refuse. Led to a generous benefactor, Thatch is supplied with a convoy of high tech equipment including a gigantic submersible commanded by Captain Roarke (James Garner) and a highly specialized crew. Armed with an ancient text from his grandfather, Thatch directs the expedition through hidden ocean passages and along a forgotten highway to Atlantis where he meets Princess Kida (Cree Summer). She asks Thatch to interpret ancient inscriptions that reveal the solution to the kingdom's ailing power source and the mystery of the magical glowing crystals. But while reading the records, a new danger surfaces that threatens to destroy the underwater empire.
Resembling a Jules Verne story, this undersea escapade involving the evil and aggressive actions of gun-toting mercenaries contains heavier doses of violence (both depicted and implied) than most animated flicks aimed at children. Despite the likeable Thatch, who portrays selfless intentions and a passion for adventure, parents should recognize that this isn't the typical song and dance animation they have grown accustomed to, even if it still bears the obligatory Disney "feel good ending." Atlantis' adventurous spirit includes the portrayal of a chain-smoking phone operator (Florence Stanley), the skimpy attire of some female characters, and a PG rating that may leave parents of younger children thinking twice before diving in.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
Disney has included a variety of ethnic characters in this film. Do you think that these groups are accurately portrayed? Why do you think there are so many different groups represented in this movie?
Film animators include some subtle sexual depictions in this film. When we fist meet Helga Sinclair, she is wearing a low cut and high slit dress. Later during the hot air balloon scene, her tank top strap keeps sliding down her arm. And who could miss the navel-baring bikini worn by Princess Kida? Why do you think animators created these details?