I have been working on cleaning up some of my Disney film history gaps. For some reason 2000 and 2001 must have been a busy time for me because it seems I was not going to Disney movies during those years including 2001’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire starring Michael J. Fox as Milo Thatch. Thatch leads an expedition in 1914 to uncover the lost city of Atlantis. As we would hope from a typical Disney movie, he finds the city and perhaps the heart of Princess Kida. Now with Fox and Leonard Nimoy providing voices I was very willing to say that it was a nerdy movie or a geeky movie but I really fought calling this a Mousey Movie. In the end, I lost:
· Jim Varney: Varney voices “Cookie” the expedition’s chef. Cookie in good western tradition swears to beans but not vegetables. Varney earned his Disney star voicing Slinky Dog in Toy Story and Toy Story 2, a character you cannot help but love. Varney passed away before the movie was completed and he never saw Atlantis: The Lost Empire, which is dedicated to him.
· Don Hahn: Don Hahn alert, Don Hahn alert. Hahn, the producer for Beauty and the Beast, was very busy producing Disney films during this timeframe including Atlantis: The Lost Empire and The Emperor’s New Groove.
· Joss Whedon: I about fell out of my chair when I saw Whedon’s writing credit for this film. Whedon got first crack at the script, but left to work on the story for Toy Story. Whedon known for television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly returns to the House of Mouse this summer as screenwriter and director of The Avengers.
· David Ogden Stiers: Stiers’ voice can be briefly heard as Fenton Q. Harcourt, Thatch’s employer at the Smithsonian Institution. Harcourt is not amused with Thatch’s dream of finding the lost city! Stiers has numerous Disney credits to his name including Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast. But he can also be found as Governor Ratcliffe (fitting name) in Pocahontas, and Dr. Jumba Jookiba in Lilo and Stitch.
· Jules Verne Style Subs: The animators were charged in this movie to develop submarines, earth movers, hot air balloons, and gliders that would fit in 1914. The submarine that carries Thatch’s expedition, the Ulysses, may not be the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea but they could definitely be cousins.
· Greed is the Root of All Evil: Like two other Disney movies from this time frame, greed destroys the natural and more innocent ways of the world. It feels as if Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Pochanotus, and Tarzan all came from the same playbook.
· Corey Burton: You probably won’t hear it in the voice, but Burton plays Mole. Mole is the team’s mineralogist and loves dirt, really loves dirt. I cannot hear anything in the voice that gives away the actor. Burton is a voice acting legend with numerous credits ranging from imitating the late Paul Frees, the original Haunted Mansion ghost host, for Disney parks attractions to the current Captain Hook voice in shows like Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
The Between Family enjoyed this feature much more than another from the early 2000s, The Emperor’s New Groove. The movie offers action, cool looking sets, a Disney princess and a somewhat predictable story that fits within the expectations of a Disney film. On a cold day in Betweenland, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is worth a watch.