Movie #42 in the Disney Animated Marathon is not what I was expecting. Nope, not what I was expecting at all!
Screenplay By: Tab Murphy & David Reynolds
Directed By: Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise
No matter the filmmaker in question, undoubtedly they will have their strengths and weaknesses. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise aren’t exempt from this rule, Atlantis: The Lost Empire proves this in spades. It is the complete opposite of the directing duos previous Disney fare, Beauty And The Beast and The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, and in being so different from said fare, Atlantis: The Lost Empire paints a clear picture of two men who are out of their realm when trying to tell a story not aided by song.
It may sound like an odd critique, but it is an honest one. The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, and to a lesser extent Beauty And The Beast, were driven by their songs. The entire narratives of those films could be found in their songs. Atlantis: The Lost Empire has no songs, and that leaves it up to Wise and Trousdale to tell their story through more conventional means. To say that they struggle with this task would be a massive understatement. For the most part they outright fail, delivering an empty and hollow film full of one dimensional characters and action scenes that are all sound and fury, but no meaning. Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a movie without any beats, in case I have lost you beats refers to moments that drive the story forward and are noticeably more important. As I said, Atlantis: The Lost Empire has no beats, instead it provides inert moment after inert moment. Apparently in their non-musical work Trousdale and Wise think that a few funny jokes and chaotic actions count as the story needed to prop up the animation, but you and I both know that’s not true at all.
Speaking of the animation found in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, that clocks in on the strength side of the ledger. There are a few jaw dropping sequences, my screenshot being one of those sequences, but on the whole the animation found in Atlantis: The Lost Empire stays in the really good-low end of great level. The animation does excel at using color to relate atmosphere though, perhaps moreso than I can recall from any other film in this marathon. It uses soothing blues in scenes that are meant to be calm and leisurely, fiery reds in scenes that are more action based, and so on and so forth.
The premise of Atlantis: The Lost Empire is interesting enough, and the animation is pleasant to the eye. It’s a shame that a tried and true team like Wise and Trousdale exited stage left on such a middling film. The potential was there for sure, but the execution never was, or at least it wasn’t present in the areas where said execution was needed the most. Atlantis: The Lost Empire has a few moments that make you go “wow,” but that is only due to the animation. That’s why I can easily tell you to go ahead and skip Atlantis: The Lost Empire if you haven’t already seen it. But let’s be honest, if you’re like me then you are going to see a Disney animated feature film no matter how many warnings you have been given that it isn’t up to par. Just don’t be let down when Atlantis: The Lost Empire is just as “meh” as I told you.