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    Unique ID Code: 0000029787
    Added by: DVD Reviewer
    Added on: 30/1/2002 21:44
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    Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2 Disc Collector`s Edition) (US)

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    Atlantis is waiting...
    Certificate: PG
    Running Time: 96 mins
    Retail Price: $39.99
    Release Date:

    The world`s most highly qualified crew of archeologists and explorers are led by the mysteries of the sea. The underwater expedition takes an unexpected turn when the team`s mission must switch from exploring Atlantis to protecting it.

    Set your course for the ultimate undersea adventure of discovery and amazement in this state-of-the-art 2-Disc DVD Collector`s Edition. Begin your journey by exploring the action-and-effects packed 2D/ 3D animated feature and awe-inspiring extras on Disc One.

    Navigate through stunning, never-before-seen bonus features on Disc Two using one of three exclusive viewing modes, an historic first from Disney! Loaded to capacity with technical wizardry, this special Collector`s Edition of Atlantis: The Lost Empire sets a course as one of Disney`s most exciting DVD creations ever. The journey awaits!

    Special Features:
    Interactive Menus
    Scene Access

    Disc 1:
    Visual Commentary - Go behind-the-scenes with the Producer and Directors and see additional footage on the "making of" process
    DisneyPedia Atlantis: Fact or Fiction - Fun and interesting theories about the lost continent of Atlantis

    Disc 2:
    Multiple Platform Navigational Systems (3-D Menus with 3 Viewing Modes):
    - Explore Mode: Tour the 3-D environment of the Ulysses Submarine and select menu options
    - Tour Mode: Enjoy all bonus features as one continuous program
    - Files Mode: Rapid Navigation - Every Bonus feature listed in sequential order
    Deleted Scene: Viking Prologue
    Virtual Tours Of CG Models - 3D Model turnarounds including the Ulysses Submarine, Leviathan and Shepherd`s Journal
    Whitmore Industries Industrial Film - Meet the benefactor who made the expedition possible
    "How to Speak Atlantean" - With the famous linguist who developed the Atlantean language
    Story & Editorial
    Abandoned Sequences
    Art Direction
    Animation Production
    Character Designs
    Music & Sound Design
    And Much, Much More!

    Video Tracks:
    Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1

    Audio Tracks:
    Dolby Digital 5.1 English
    Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 French
    DTS 5.1 English

    Subtitle Tracks:
    CC: English

    Directed By:
    Kirk Wise
    Gary Trousdale

    Written By:

    Don Novello
    Leonard Nimoy
    Phil Morris
    John Mahoney
    James Garner
    Michael J. Fox
    Claudia Christian
    Corey Burton

    Casting By:
    Ruth Lambert
    Mary Hidalgo
    Matthew Jon Beck

    Soundtrack By:
    Diane Warren
    James Newton Howard

    Ellen Keneshea

    Production Designer:
    Jim Martin

    Kendra Halland
    Don Hahn

    Disney Pictures

    Your Opinions and Comments

    10 / 10
    Disney couldn`t have picked a worse time to unveil "Atlantis: The Lost Empire." The summer of 2001 had already been claimed by that giant green juggernaut, "Shrek," and audiences simply didn`t know what to make of Disney`s decidedly different animated feature film. The usually well oiled Disney Publicity Machine missed the trick by telling people that here was the new Disney cartoon - but not making it clear that here is a Disney movie not based on a fairy tale, without a single musical number, lacking a cute and cuddly sidekick, and featuring an actual body count.

    Although in the US "Atlantis" was Disney`s first PG-rated animated film since 1985`s "The Black Cauldron". Here in the UK both film were given a BBFC "U" certificate. (Still saying that the US is more liberal than the UK)?
    "Atlantis" was a critical and financial disappointment - US domestic gross finishing just over $84million - as the viewing public just didn`t know how to react to a Disney film with a slightly darker edge. The biggest fear is that the performance of "Atlantis" will lead to another 15-year span before another such animated project is undertaken. I say this because I thought "Atlantis" was a wonderful film that marked a new direction for Disney and I would hate to see the Mouse House fall back on the tried-and-tested formula that it hopes will guarantee it sure-fire theatrical success but which offers very little in the way of groundbreaking animation or storytelling. (Except for the same Directors "Beauty and the Beast" coming this autumn to DVD).

    The film is a hybrid of various adventure films, from the opening taken from Akira, (the white flash and the round cloud) with the city of Atlantis falling victim to a cataclysm of epic proportions - to Indiana Jones battling baddies to - the first sight of Princess Kida (looking and moving for all the world like a `Disney-ed` Princess Mononoke) to - the sight of the city of Atlantis surrounded by lava with one narrow bridge (a bigger version of Princess Fiona`s castle in Shrek) and the Stone Guardians seemingly modelled on "The Iron Giant". However the visual gags just keep on coming - from a CGI crewmember waving at the camera (unless you watch the visual commentary you`ll never find it) to where the crystals end up at the end of the film.

    The Atlanteans were an advanced race populating the continent between present-day Europe and North America. They`re source of power and its misuse result in their very dramatic downfall.

    Fade to 1914 Washington, D.C. where archaeologist and museum curator Milo Thatch (Michael J. Fox) is about to present his findings on the fabled lost city. Unfortunately, no one takes him seriously and in a pique of anger he tries to resign. Arriving home he finds the sultry Helga Sinclair (Claudia Christian) waiting for him with an offer he can`t refuse. It seems that Preston B. Whitmore (John Mahoney), a fabulously wealthy old friend of Milo`s long-lost adventurer grandfather, has uncovered the fabled Shepherd`s Journal -- the key to finding the lost city of Atlantis. Whitmore has rounded up a diverse crew of experts to search for Atlantis and the expedition needs Milo to come along and translate the journal. Led by Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke (James Garner), the massive expedition sets off in the gigantic submarine Ulysses to find Atlantis. During the journey they come across the Leviathan, a mechanical monster that guards the undersea entrance to the caverns that house the lost city. The monster makes short work of the sub before itself being destroyed and the handful of survivors regroup and continue the journey through the caverns in their various mechanical contraptions.

    What follows is the obligatory back-story on each of the expedition members that eventually culminates in the first face-to-face meeting with the Atlanteans. Princess Kida (Cree Summer) leads the group to see her father, King Nedakh (Leonard Nimoy), who grants them one night`s rest before they must leave the lost city and return to the surface. But Rourke and his crew of mercenaries have other plans. They have signed up for this trip not out of scientific curiosity but in order to uncover Atlantis` magical source of power and bring it home. Can Milo and the Atlanteans put a stop to their plans or will this spell the final death of the lost city?

    I really loved "Atlantis" for a number of reasons.
    First, Tab Murphy`s screenplay - it`s fairly predictable and wholly derivative but the plot remains fun from beginning to end. The voice talent is also good with a stable of well-known Hollywood stars providing the anchor for the tale. From Don Novello`s improvised lines as Vinny, the explosives expert, to Leonard Nimoy`s sense of gravity as the King of Atlantis, each character brings something to the party.

    Most importantly, "Atlantis" features a truly wonderful visual style that is quite unlike anything Disney has done before. The use of scene wipes and fades gives the film a `real` feel seldom seen in American animation. The creators wanted to do the film in a comic book style so they brought onboard famed comic book illustrator Mike Mignola as visual designer and consultant. The end result is a look that imbues each character and environment with real life and dark qualities. The CGI and traditional cel-based animation are as seamless as have yet been seen, (the attack on the Ulysses by the Leviathan for example) and the two remain similar enough in style to be complementary rather than glaringly opposed as in so many other modern animated films.

    "Atlantis" is the type of film you could stare at with the sound turned off as every background -- and even the smallest facets -- are so full of visual detail. This is eye candy of the highest order and it doesn`t hurt that the story itself is a good old- fashioned epic yarn.

    "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and it`s a treat to see animation done in this format. It is a gorgeous video transfer that is full of life and detail. Colours are vibrant and the palette is wonderfully diverse. Each step along the expedition`s path is done with its own unique style and colouring. Black levels are very good as well and the abundant dark scenes are full of detail.
    Being a new film there are no physical defects and the transfer is free of edge enhancement. Some American reviews have said that this DVD seems to be a bit finicky on some players, and, depending on your kit, you may notice some compression artefacts and digital break-up in certain scenes although on my DV88 I saw nothing of the sort. This is a beautiful transfer and "Atlantis" is a real sight to behold.

    Audio is presented in English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 and an English DTS 5.1 mix. (Some American reviews say there is a Dolby 5.1ES track - but my disk does not mention it at all). All I heard was a wonderfully impressive soundtrack. Dynamic range is broad and detailed with highs and deep lows coming across clearly. The soundstage makes use of all of the speakers and features frequent panning and surround effects. The rear-to-front effects are among the best I`ve heard. Dialogue is always clear as well and even the gunfire and explosion riddled sequences don`t drown out the spoken word. This is a wonderfully balanced track that can be played very loud without sounding strained or harsh.
    As for the inevitable Dolby Digital vs. DTS comparison, as you would expect the DTS track offers a fuller-sounding mix. Whichever format you decide upon, "Atlantis" won`t fail to make a favourable impression on your ears.

    As the latest in Disney`s line of 2-disc collector`s editions it`s a given that "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" comes packed with bonus features, and after the fiasco of the Toy Story and Fantasia Box sets you will find the extras for this film to be much more interesting and better organized than on those previous efforts. I can honestly say that I didn`t mind the amount of time required to plough through the myriad of features.

    Disney has used a new navigation system for this set that will certainly enhance the overall enjoyment. Users are offered three options for perusing the bonus disc. They can select "Explore" to navigate the nicely animated menus to find what they want, they can select "Files" to see a very basic text guide to everything on the disc, or they can choose "Tour" and sit back for a 2- hour presentation of all of the video interview segments presented uncut and with full chapter stops. The "Tour" will be a godsend for those who do not like to endlessly click their way through these Disney DVDs. After the guided tour, all that`s left is to go back to either one of the other paths to uncover the remaining bonus features. Almost all of the extras are presented in anamorphic widescreen.

    While the bulk of the extras reside on disc two, there are some nice features on the movie disc as well. Foremost is a commentary track featuring producer Don Hahn, and co-directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale. This is a lively track and the filmmakers are unabashed in their enthusiasm for what they accomplished with "Atlantis." While much of what they discuss is repeated in later supplements, this is still an entertaining and informative commentary.

    The commentary can also be heard using the "Visual Commentary" option. With this feature enabled the commentary occasionally pauses so that a short video segment illustrating the point of discussion can be viewed before the film resumes. These 22 minutes of footage can also be directly accessed using the "Video Commentary" menu so viewers can watch all of the extras even if they don`t feel like sitting through the commentary. There are some nice little gems in the mix so this feature is well worth checking out.

    Also on disc one is "DisneyPedia -- Atlantis: Fact or Fiction" which offers very brief featurettes, for children, (or those who do not watch Time Team) on such diverse topics as submarines and real-world theories about Atlantis. The first disc also contains some DVD-ROM content consisting of links to a special "Atlantis" website.

    As for the rest of the extras - in the order in which they appear on the second disc - first is a short "Whitmore Industries Industrial Film" that runs when the disc is first inserted into the player. This sepia-toned pseudo-newsreel gives some background on Mr. Whitmore and serves as an introduction to the DVD`s navigational system.

    From the DVD menus the first option is the "History" section that offers up featurettes outlining the genesis of the idea that became "Atlantis" and how the filmmakers strove to make this fictional world as real as possible. First is "The Journey Begins," a 9-minute bit on how "Atlantis" came to be. Next is "Creating Mythology," presenting 8-minutes worth of background on the research that went into making the lost city believable. "The Shepherd`s Journal" offers some background on this key book as well as presenting numerous pages for closer examination. Finally, "How to Speak Atlantean" is a 2-minute pseudo-newsreel with linguist Marc Okrand, and film from the Disney archive of Robert Benchley doing a tour of the Disney Studios, turned into a teaching aid for some basic Atlantean phrases. (For those who know their Disney history a very funny in-joke). This is the same fellow who created the Klingon language for "Star Trek."

    The next section on the disc is entitled "Story and Editorial." "Finding the Story" is an 11-minute piece examining some of the early "Atlantis" concepts. Next four deleted scenes. Of primary interest is the "Viking Prologue," the completed piece that was cut from the film late in the game and which was to be the original opening to the film. The remaining deleted scenes are all presented via storyboards with rough audio and include "The Squid Bats," "The Lava Whales," and "The Land Beast." "Original Treatment" is a still gallery featuring some early art for selected scenes in the film.

    Next is "Art Direction" and here is the real meat of the extras for fans of the film`s visual look. "Designing Atlantis" is an 11-minute featurette that provides a great amount of information on the process that led to the eventual design philosophy for the film. The remaining subsections are all in-depth sill galleries that highlight many of the aspects mentioned in the featurette.

    "Animation Production" is the next section and it is further subdivided into three subsections. "The Characters" area deals with everything from the voice talent hired to the design process for all of the major and minor characters through the use of interviews as well as still galleries. "Setting the Scene" is 12-minute piece that further explores the design of the lavish environments. "Layouts and Backgrounds" provides still galleries focusing on, well, the layouts and backgrounds.

    "Digital Production" covers the vast amount of CGI used for "Atlantis" and opens with a 12-minute featurette. Then are 6 minutes worth of digital production tests. This is followed by still galleries offering rotating 3D as well as static images of the vehicles that appear in the film. "Characters" offers much the same kind of look at the Leviathan, the Stone Giants, and the digital extras. A very nice animated "Vehicle Size Comparison" gives the viewer some idea of the scale of these vehicles and critters in relation to each other.

    "Music and Sound" consists of a 9-minute featurette covering composer James Newton Howard`s and sound designer Gary Rydstrom`s wonderful contributions to the film. Lastly is "Publicity," containing four theatrical trailers and a still gallery of various print and poster art.

    The folks at Disney have finally outdone themselves with this deluxe 2-DVD collector`s edition. "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" may have been a bit of a disappointment in the cinema market but it`s clear that those involved in bringing this unique project to life are justifiably proud of their hard work. The powers that be at Disney took a real chance in green-lighting such a departure from their typical animated fare and it`s nice that those same folks were also willing to give "Atlantis" the type of DVD release that it deserves.

    Featuring wonderful audio and video presentations and a wealth of truly informative bonus features "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" is a collector`s edition DVD of the highest order and comes very highly recommended.
    posted by Tony Myhill on 6/2/2002 21:35