Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Film information
Directed by: Gary Trousdale
Kirk Wise
Produced by: Don Hahn
Written by: Tab Murphy
Music by: James Newton Howard
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date(s): June 15, 2001
Language: English
Budget: $120 million

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a 2001 animated feature produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures on June 15, 2001. An animated sci-fi mixed action movie, it was written by Tab Murphy, directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, and produced by Don Hahn. The 41st film in the Disney animated features canon, it is set in the year 1914, where an expedition crew goes off to find the lost city of Atlantis.


When Milo Thatch gains possession of a sacred book, he believes it will guide him to the mythical city of Atlantis. Enlisting a band of ragtag archaeologists, excavators and mercenaries, they find the city, but little does the team realize that there are people among them willing to throw the kingdom into chaos for their own profit.


The film opens in 6586 BC, with a massive tsunami descending upon the mythical city of Atlantis. The population flees for the safety of the city center as the empire's boundaries are sealed off by mysterious energy shields projected by the Guardians of Atlantis. During the chaos, the Atlantean Queen is forced to part from her daughter, Kida, as she is summoned by the Heart of Atlantis and departs into the sky. Kida and her father, the King of Atlantis, watch in terror as their once mighty city is plunged beneath the waves.

In 1914, Milo Thatch is greeted by Helga Sinclair, who invites Milo to see her employer. Her employer is Preston B. Whitmore, an eccentric millionaire who attended Georgetown University with Milo's grandfather, Thaddeus Thatch, in 1866. Upon meeting, Preston presents Milo with the Shepherd's Journal, a long-lost book that may unlock the secrets of Atlantis. Preston wants Milo to translate the manuscript and lead an expedition to Atlantis, which has already been prepared. Milo accepts his mission.

Milo sets out aboard the Ulysses, a submarine commanded by Commander Lyle Rourke, the mercenary leader, and Helga. Among the crew are Vincenzo 'Vinny' Santorini, the crew's Italian demolitions expert, Gaetan 'Mole' Molière, a crazed French geologist, Dr. Joshua Sweet, the ship's medical officer, Audrey Ramirez, a teenage tomboy mechanic, Jebidiah 'Cookie' Farnsworth, the ship's Western redneck cook, and Wilhelmina Packard, an elderly communications expert. The team departs in search for the ancient city, with Milo guiding the way. He explains that in order to reach Atlantis, they must find a massive crevasse that will lead them to an underground air pocket providing the passageway to Atlantis.

During the expedition, the Ulysses is attacked by the Leviathan, the mythical guardian of Atlantis. To Milo's shock, the creature is in fact a massive war machine. The Ulysses launches its entire complement of Subpods to attack the Leviathan, but many are destroyed in action. The Ulysses attempts to face off with the creature and is instead struck down by beams of massive electricity, forcing the crew to abandon ship. The survivors flee in Evac-Subs and the few remaining Subpods, retreating towards the crevasse where Atlantis is purportedly hidden. Sadly, only a handful of the crew survives as the Leviathan relentlessly fires upon the subs, destroying all but one Evac-Sub and one Subpod. Among the survivors are Rourke, Helga, Milo and the entire excavation team.

The survivors make their way through the massive underground caverns leading to Atlantis, meeting many dangers along the way. Eventually, they set up camp at a mysterious ruin and Milo is finally allowed into the team as a friend, as his geeky persona had previously alienated him.

After their camp is destroyed by mysterious glowing insects, the team attempts to cross a bridge, but ends up at the bottom of a dormant volcano. Mole drills a tunnel out of the volcano. The crew are then met by Kida, now a young woman. Kida leads the group to her father, King Kashekim Nedakh, who tells them to leave. Rourke requests the King allow his team to stay the night and the King grants it. Meanwhile, Kida enlists Milo's help in deciphering runes throughout the city.

After some time, Milo and Kida are surrounded by Rourke along with his mercenaries and discover that he and Helga intend to sell the Heart of Atlantis. Rourke then offers Milo to join him, so he can locate the crystal. Milo then challenges Rourke.

Rourke decides that he has had enough of Milo's resistance and instead proceeds to doing things his way; he forces Milo into being his translator and then confronts King Nedakh. When King Nedakh refuses to disclose the location of the Heart, Rourke fatally punches him. Dr. Sweet, angered at this brazen attack, abandons Rourke to treat the King's wounds. Rourke then forces Milo to find the Heart for him. The Heart reaches into Kida's mind. Kida then strides toward the crystal, which levitates her up to it and merges with her, as Rourke, Sinclair and Milo watch in surprise and are all equally shocked. Rourke locks Kida in a steel crate and prepares to leave for the caves.

When Rourke leaves Milo behind, Vinnie, Audrey, Mole, Cookie, and Packard, bothered by Rourke treating Milo and the Atlanteans harshly, decide to stay behind as well. King Nedakh tells Milo about the Heart of Atlantis. The King then gives his crystal to Milo and tells him that his burden would have becomes Kida's when the time was right. He tells Milo to save Atlantis and Kida and dies. Milo is initially hesitant after realizing how he endangered Atlantis, but Sweet convinces him that there is still a chance to make things right. Milo assembles his friends and the Atlanteans in an attempt to attack Rourke and his mercenaries.

A lengthy air battle ensues between the attacking Atlanteans with their flying "stone fish" against the defending mercenaries with their "Whitmore Wings". The battle eventually is in favor of the Atlanteans as the Whitmore Wings are shot down. Helga and Rourke attempt to escape to the surface with a hot air balloon, but are slowed by Milo's attacks. Rourke then betrays Helga and sends her falling to her death in order to lose weight and gain altitude. As she lays dying, Helga fires a flare at the airship, sending it crashing down while Milo and Rourke battle over Kida's fate. Rourke is killed when Milo slashes his arm with a crystallized shard of glass, crystallizing Rourke's body and eventually getting blown apart when his body hits the rotors. By this point, Kida is recovered and the mercenaries are either dead or have fled. The blast from Rourke's airship triggers a volcanic eruption that threatens to destroy the city. Milo returns to Atlantis with the Heart/Kida in tow. The Heart/Kida activates the city's sentinels, who erect an energy shield to stop the flow of lava, saving the remnants of the city. Kida is then returned ot her human state and reunites with Milo. The crew returns to the surface, adorned with some of Atlantis' treasures as their reward. Milo remains behind in Atlantis with Kida, where they give her father a proper memorial and initiate the city's reconstruction.

Box office

Atlantis: The Lost Empire did moderately well at the US box office, making approximately $85 million dollars in its theatrical run, although this is well below its production cost of $120 million and nowhere near the animation high-water mark of $312 million set by 1994's The Lion King. Although it grossed about $186 million worldwide that covered up the budget for good (thus preventing it from being a box-office bomb), it is still considered to be less successful than other recent Disney movies.

Praise and criticism


The film has a dramatic opening sequence depicting the fall of Atlantis, a first act that establishes the story, bold dialogue, and an interesting visual look in part from Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. It also won some praise for daring to break away from the comfort of Disney's animated musicals that dominated the 1990s by trying a serious, action-adventure story.

Film critic Roger Ebert gives Atlantis a three-and-half stars, indicating a moderately positive view of the film.[1]


That said, critics generally disliked the film. Critics noted the one-dimensional characterizations in the too-large cast of supporting characters, the remoteness of Milo, a lack of audience involvement, and a general lifelessness that accompanies the by-the-book trudging from one set piece to the next following the destruction of the Ulysses.

Some of the movie's internal logic has been found lacking as well. The Atlanteans, with multi-millennia life-spans, forget how to read their own written language, yet they are able to speak Latin and other modern languages like French and English when meeting Milo and his team, due to connections to the linguistic roots (though nowhere does it say that they can write them).


It has also been criticized by some viewers of the film bearing a resemblance to a famous 1990s Japanese anime television show, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. The similarities include character designs, story flow, the background settings, and more. The director Kirk Wise has stated he never even heard of such a show when Atlantis was in production. The similarities might be simply due to both being inspired by the Jules Verne novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.[2]

Overview, production notes and sequel

Atlantis is notable as one of the few animated films shot in the anamorphic widescreen process. To prevent having to purchase and implement larger animation desks, longer animation paper, and so forth, the production team resorted to working within a smaller frame on the same paper and equipment used for the standard aspect ratio Disney films.

Some viewers have noted similarities between the Milo character and motion picture language consultant Dr. Marc Okrand, who developed the Atlantean language for this movie (Okrand has said that animator John Pomeroy sketched him, claiming not to know what a linguist looked or behaved like). Additionally, an interesting aspect of the film is that very few of the characters are under the age of 30, a rare component for a Disney animated feature. Also, Atlantis is the first animated Disney feature since 1995 to have a black character, Dr. Joshua Sweet, in the roster of main characters. On a side note Atlantis was one of the last Disney films to include a smoking character, Packard, who consistently puffed a cigarette, only had minor role.

The film was originally supposed to provide a springboard for an animated television series titled Team Atlantis, which would have detailed the further adventures of the characters from the film. However, because of its disappointing box office intake, the series was scrapped. On May 20, 2003, Disney released a direct-to-video sequel called Atlantis: Milo's Return, which consisted mostly of stories originally produced for the aborted series.

Milo Thatch, Princess Kida, Wilhemina Packard and Commander Roark were featured as guests in House of Mouse.

In addition, several video games were released for various consoles of the time, most notably the PC game Atlantis; Trial By Fire. There were two main "campaigns" the game; Search For The Journal, which events surrounded the expedition to Iceland in order to find the journal. This segment of the game places the player as one of Rourke's mercenaries (or as the game simply states "Storm Troopers") and must fight their way through various obstacles and enemies, which are called "The Keepers". The player remains in constant radio contact throughout the game, along with the voices of most of the actors in the movie. The "reward" for finding the Journal is a trailer of the movie, also, the player can pilot the Whitmore Wing, as seen in the movie, the aircraft Rourke's mercenaries would use in their attempts to fight off Milo's attack. The second "campaign" of the game; Trial By Fire, takes place during the events of the movie, and the player takes on the role of Milo Thatch. The game follows the movie very closely, and the player goes from finding Atlantis to defending it. Atlantis: Trial By Fire also had a multiplayer component, which featured modes like deathmatch, CTF, and air battles. It also included a 10 minute documentary on how the movie was made.

Jim Varney (who played Cookie) died during production, and several lines had to be filled in by a soundalike.

Voice Cast


Crew Position
Directed by Gary Trousdale
Kirk Wise
Produced by Don Hahn
Original Story by Gary Trousdale
Kirk Wise
Joss Whedon
Bryce Zabel
Jackie Zabel
Tab Murphy
Screenplay by Tab Murphy
Original Score by James Newton Howard
Associate Producer Kendra Haaland
Art Director David Goetz
Production Design Mike Mignola, Matt Codd, Ricardo Delgado, Jim E. Martin
Film Editor Ellen Keneshea
Artistic Supervisors John Sanford (Story supervisor)
Ed Ghertner (Layout supervisor)
Lisa Keene (Background supervisor)
Marshall Toomey (Clean-up supervisor)
Marlon West (Effects supervisor)
Kihran Bhakta Joshi (Computer Graphics supervisor)
Artistic Coordinator Chris Jenkins
Supervising Animators John Pomeroy (Milo)
Michael Surrey (Rourke)
Randy Haycock (Princess Kida)
Russ Edmonds (Vinny)
Ron Husband (Dr Sweet)
Yoshimichi Tamura (Helga)
Anne Marie Bardwell (Audrey)
David Pruiksma (Mrs Packard/Mr Harcourt)
Shawn Keller (Preston Whitmore/Cookie)
Anthony DeRosa (Molière)
Michael Cedeno (Atlantian King)
Production Manager Igor Khait

Annie Awards

Result Award Winner/Nominee Recipient(s)
NOMINATED Individual Achievement in Directing Gary Trousdale (Director)
Kirk Wise (Director)
NOMINATED Individual Achievement in Storyboarding Chris Ure (Story Artist)
NOMINATED Individual Achievement in Production Design David Goetz (Art Director)
NOMINATED Individual Achievement in Effects Animation Marlon West (Effects Supervisor)
NOMINATED Individual Achievement in Voice Acting - Female Florence Stanley ("Mrs Packard")
NOMINATED Individual Achievement in Voice Acting - Male Leonard Nimoy ("King Nedakh")

Real-life references

Vinnie's last name, "Santorini," is also the current name of an ancient chain of volcanic islands in the Mediterranean that erupted with many times the force of Mount Vesuvius (and predated it by many centuries), devastated the Minoan civilization, and may have been an origin of the Atlantean legend. This might also explain Vinnie's profound obsession with explosives, although in the film Vinny's obsession came when there was an explosion in his family's flower shop.

Also, the weaponry is of the correct time period (1914, as it says in the beginning of the film) such as: The Lee Enfield, the Lewis Gun, the Broomhandle Mauser, and a variant of the Luger. There are various models of Browning .30 Cal Machine Guns mounted to planes and other vehicles as well.


To prepare for the production, the filmmakers visited museums and toured old army installations. They also traveled 800 feet underground in New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns to observe the subterranean trails that would serve as the model for the approach to Atlantis in the film. When it came to creating the look of the city of Atlantis, the filmmakers wanted to avoid the common conception of "Greek columns under the sea somewhere," says art director Dave Goetz. Instead, they modeled their Atlantis on the architecture of ancient civilizations in China, South America, and the Middle East.


  1. Ebert, Roger. Atlantis: The Lost Empire. June 15, 2001.
  2. Nadia vs. Atlantis, Revisited! - Anime News Network

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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Atlantis: The Lost Empire. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with DisneyWiki and Disney Fan Fiction, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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