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[whitespace] 'Atlantis'
Under the Sea: Explorer Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox) gets a tour of the lost, mythical city of Atlantis from the princess Kida (voiced by Cree Summer).

Hit and Myth

There's no real treasure to be found in Disney's formulaic 'Atlantis'

By Richard von Busack

THE HAROLD LLOYD-LIKE Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox) is hired on by an eccentric millionaire who wants to prove Thatch's theories of Atlantis' existance. The city is discovered, powered by a magical energy source (which, amusingly, sometimes takes the form of New Age crystals). Thatch falls for the princess (voiced by Cree Summer and looking like a smaller-chested Lil' Kim).

What really gets rediscovered are most of the action-adventure movie clichés of the past century. Trying to shed the Disney skin, the film gets tangled in too many different characterizations among the Atlantis expedition: the endeavor to please as many demographic groups as possible is as obvious here as it would be in advertising.

On the one hand, the Disney organization dispensed with the horrible show tunes this time--a real plus--and they were aiming at hipness by hiring on Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as a writer. Whedon's hand isn't apparent, though. However, one of the great living dialect comedians, Don "Fr. Guido Sarducci" Novello, gives the film some laughs as a frighteningly calm demolitions expert, and James Garner's folksy voicing of the military villain is silky and unsettling.

Still, Atlantis never leaves the safety zone of tried and true formulas. All the varied assemblyline-produced bits don't fit, and there are never any surprises. Aiming at inspiring awe, the film mostly inspires "ehh."

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (PG; 88 min.), directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, written by Tab Murphy and Joss Whedon, with the voices of Michael J. Fox, Cree Summer and James Garner, opens Friday at selected theaters valleywide.

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From the June 14-20, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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