Atlantis: The Lost Empire was one of the first films to come out after the Disney Renaissance Period ended, with only Dinosaur and The Emperor’s New Groove preceding it. It followed along with Disney’s new approach of a non-musical film. It was the first animated science-fiction film that the studio tackled. And, upon a rewatch, the film does hold up, for the most part.
Atlantis attempts to blend hand drawn animation with the computer animation of the action sequences. Does it do this successfully, though? Looking at the film now, my answer would be no. The two different styles do not work together and one just makes the other more obvious. At the time, this may not have been the case, but as the film has aged and the technology has advanced, the two styles stick out like sore thumbs. That being said, the hand drawn animation in this film is breathtaking. The entire city of Atlantis is a stunning masterpiece.
The composed music in the film is gorgeous. Composed by James Newton Howard, I’d expect nothing less. And, all in all, the film does some excellent world building, based on original texts. This is, by far, one of the most, if not the most, diverse Disney animated film, not only by race but by age, as well.
Although the film holds up, I do feel like being a non-musical may have hurt the film, by making it not as memorable. I do feel that the only reason this film remains in the Disney consciousness is because of the older fans of the film, as Disney itself has let this film fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, this film also falls into the lovely category of “white savior” films, which is disheartening.
The most fun development from me rewatching this film has been an addition to my theory about a tiny film called Avatar. For those that know me, you know how strongly I dislike the film. And, it’s not just for one reason. It is for many. But, rewatching this film has convinced me that James Cameron’s Avatar is merely a combination of Ferngully, Pocahontas, AND Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Nothing can convince me otherwise. At least Atlantis does a better job of world building.