HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Atlantis: The Lost Empire/Atlantis: Milo's Return
HTS Overall Score:61
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM BOTH FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
Disney has been on a roll lately. There’s hasn't been a year where they've released THIS MANY animated titles on Blu-ray to date. However, 2013 seems to be the year where they’re working overtime to get as many of them out as possible. Here we have 3 (or 6 if you count their DTV sequels) more Disney animated titles all coming out on the same date for us to enjoy. Like the previous batch, this is another set of Disney’s lower tier animated titles. Now we’re pulling from the “Bronze Age” of the catalog titles, that is the 2000 and newer titles. This is an age that, for the most part, Disney would just like to acknowledge didn't exist. To say that they weren't a financial success would be an understatement. This doesn't negate that fact that there are some rather nice gems in that generation, but still, it’s a spot of contention for the house of mouse. Now we have “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” and it’s DTV sequel (which is actually nothing but the first 3 episodes of a failed TV show) “Atlantis: Milo’s Return”, to grace our players today.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire :3.5stars:
“The Lost Empire” is known to be one of the weakest of the mouse house titles to date, some argue it is the weakest, but I still think “Brother Bear” holds that title. While “Brother Bear” had its own unique feel to it with animation and tone, “The Lost Empire” still held that traditional Disney “feel” to it. It follows the same basic structure to it as other Disney releases and houses one of the truly lost Disney Princesses.
Milo Thatch (Michael J. Fox) is a bumbling and hopeless professor in the early 1900’s, his only problem is that he’s OBSESSED with finding the lost city of Atlantis that his grandfather spent his entire life trying to find. As luck would have it, his grandfather’s old expedition partner has a clue to the whereabouts of Atlantis and wishes to fund an expedition. Leaping at the chance, Milo undertakes the journey and uses his grandfather’s clues to find the city of Atlantis. When he and the crew arrive they find out that Atlantis is not only real, but still inhabited. Milo is of course enthralled with the city and finds a kindred spirit in the form of the royal Atlantian princess Kida (Summer Cree). The king (Leonard Nimoy) ,on the other hand, already has guessed why the other members of the expedition are here. The expedition crew are less explorers and more mercenaries. Their goal seems to be the stealing of the famed “Atlantian Crystal”, a device of great power that sustains the city. Realizing that his crew has no honorable intentions, Milo and a few deserters must take matters into their own hand and stop the murderous mercenaries from taking the only protection that the city of Atlantis has left.
“The Lost Empire” stumbles more often than it gets something right, but the subtle Disney charm is still there, rising it up a notch in my opinion. With a little more time on character development and a little less time on the exploration I think this could have been a much better film. Michael J. Fox is fantastic as the bumbling Milo Thatch (he always seems to do well with those bumbling, stuttering characters), and the venerable James Garner is creepy as all get out as the murderous commander Rourke. Some of the side characters definitely felt a bit strained though. Disney’s claim to fame character wise has always been the creation of memorable side characters. Here, they were more forgettable than they were memorable. Their lines felt forced and their actions even more so. A decent lower tier animated title, “The Lost Empire” still is a solid enough title to warrant a hesitant thumbs up.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11799[/img]Atlantis: Milo's Return :1star:
“Milo’s Return” is actually not a DTV sequel as much as it was a failed TV show that got a few episodes under production before the funding was yanked. Cramming 3 episodes from the pilot into disc and calling it a day is about all you can expect from this one. While I may rail against “The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2” as being one of the worst Disney DTV titles to date, I have to say this one takes the cake. I don’t even know if you can even CALL this a sequel. The three shorts are disjointed and barely form a coherent storyline. In the first section we have Milo and Kida, now King and queen of Atlantis, must team up with their old comrades from the first movie and do battle with an ancient Kraken, next they’re off to visit Arizona to go investigate the appearance of ghosts (ummm, is this an episode of Scooby-do?). Lastly the crew must do battle with Odin over an ancient Atlantean spear. As you can guess from being TV shorts, the baddies are all dispatched and overcome in about 20 minutes each, leaving plenty of time....for, well nothing to get done besides these disjointed adventures.
Doomed to fail from the start the television show tanked before it could even be shown and no wonder, the only claim this thing had was the fact that some of the original voice actors came back (although Michael J. Fox ran as far away as he could from this let down). I personally would count this as a special feature that just never gets watched, that is unless you’re a glutton for punishment.
Rated PG for action violence
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11800[/img]The Lost Empire :4stars:
“The Lost Empire” is a decent mouse house encode. Definitely using an old master, it has a few flaws. Aliasing and mild halos are present in most scenes and some digital artifacting as well. Color banding is the real villain here, nothing wildly intrusive, but it is still prevalent throughout the entire film. The goods, though, definitely outweigh the bad. “The Lost Empire’s” colors are rich and bright throughout. Lush shades of blue and green and reads saturated the entire screen. The animation is solid and lines are smooth and clean, no jaggies in sight. Shadow detail is great and there is no sign of black crush even in the darkest caverns that our heroes must traverse. One of the last titles that Disney used traditional, hand drawn, animation on and its style is unique and well detailed. Overall a good transfer that’s only marred by the old digital problems of a bygone mastering process.
Milo's Return :2stars:
What can I say? It looks like “Milo’s Return” got the same treatment video wise as it got story wise. A complete mess of a transfer it looks ridiculously like a DVD. Soft and full of aliasing I had to rub my eyes to make sure I was watching the Blu-ray and not the DVD. The colors are muted and dull, the animation is an eyesore, artifacting is ridiculous. The list goes on. It hurt my eyes to watch this one, nothing about the film is worth this much torture. With the poor source materials for this one I doubt Disney could have done a wild amount to clean this one up, it’s problems were more budget related than actual faults of the encoding.
The Lost Empire :4stars:
Probably the shining feature of the entire disc is the audio encode for “The Lost Empire”. The opening scene lets us know that we’re in for a sonic bombardment LFE wise. The deep rumble of a tidal wave rips through our subs like they were paper, the deep low end that saturates the movie from beginning to end keeps it feeling nice and full. To say that the LFE was used frequently and impressively is another understatement. Dialogue was nice and clean, crisp vocals and locked firmly in the center. Even in echoing chambers we can hear every voice with crisp clarity. Surrounds were used very well, when they were used that is. While we have some fantastic use of the surrounds during the expedition and the ensuing battle scenes, much of the film is very dialogue based and as a result, about ½ of the film is rather front loaded, and the other half is full of heavy surround usage. Dynamic range was beautiful, a perfect balance of gut ripping sonic bombardments and subtle ambience. Well done on all accords.
Milo's Return :3stars:
“Milo’s Return” has a decent DTS-HD MA 5.1 encode. Surprisingly, not nearly as lackluster as one might have feared. It IS a tv show basically, so it’s nothing explosive, but the sound design was solid. Dialogue is clean and clear, locked to that front soundstage. LFE is lackluster and surrounds are nearly non-existent. Front loaded, as one might expect for a TV show, and run of the mill sound design, it does nothing exceptionally well, but also nothing exceptionally bad either. It just skates by on a “ho hum” note. The fact that they gave us a lossless track is about the only shining star this track has.
The Lost Empire
• Audio Commentary
• The Making of "Atlantis"
• "The Lost Empire" Deleted Scenes
• "Milo's Return" Deleted Scene
• How to Speak Atlantean
• Atlantis: Fact or Fiction?
• Theatrical Tailers
As with all these double feature Disney titles, I highly recommend that the individual scores of the movies themselves be taken into account vs. the combined score at the top, and to think of the sequel as just another special feature. “The Lost Empire” is mediocre Disney title that doesn’t get a lot of love, and understandably so. It was designed during a period where the mouse house had seemingly lost their way in the animated department. However, it still has its charms and for the Disney collector it’s a decent addition to the collection. For the rest of the viewers, I’d give it a nice rental first. It’s nothing horrible, but the sheer magic that Disney was known for is definitely lacking. As for the sequel, RUN as far away as you can from this disaster. The only way I would view this is if you’re well versed in the art of MST3K.
Starring: Michael J. Fox, James Garner, Claudia Christian, Leonard Nimoy
Directed by: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise : Victor Cook, Toby Shelton
Written by: Tab Murphy, Kirk Wise : Thomas Hart, Henry Gilroy
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC, 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1 Spanish, Portuguese, French DD 5.1
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 95 minutes : 81 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: June 11th, 2013
Buy Atlantis: The Lost Empire/Atlantis: Milo's Return Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Rent It
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