Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Release Date: January 29, 2002
Run Time: approximately 96 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: A multi-cultural team of experts search for the fabled lost city and its valuable power source.
Version: Collector's Edition
Disc: Dual-layered

  • Audio and Visual Commentary with the directors and producer
  • DisneyPedia Atlantis
  • Multiple Platform Navigational System
  • Deleted Scene
  • Abandoned Sequences
  • Virtual Tours of CG Models
  • Whitmore Industries Industrial Film
  • How To Speak Atlantean
  • Production Designs
  • Production History
  • Publicity Materials
  • Tech Specs: Anamorphic Widescreen (Aspect Ratio 2.35:1), English Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS, French 2.0, English subtitles, THX Certified.

    One of last year's best adventure films didn't feature a videogame character, though eventually all the cast did get ported to your Playstations and PCs. And in the rush to fawn over computer-generated ogres and other monsters, somehow everyone ignored The Leviathan. But like Warner's The Iron Giant proved a couple of years ago, box office take often fails to reflect a film's true quality. So it is with Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

    Using a mixture of computer techniques under the classic 2-D ink and paint method, Atlantis got a little lost last summer. The film borrows freely from a variety of sources, combining Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs with a little slapstick to create something both fresh and familiar. And thanks to the influence of comic book artist Mike Mignola, there's even a slight touch of Lovecraft. (Read Jordan Rosa's full review.)

    Clearly, somebody at the studio determined that the DVD release would not get lost, and the best word for the special edition is lavish. There seems to be no end to the supplemental materials, detailing every aspect of production anyone might want to know about, but wisely left to a second disc.

    The main disc focuses on the film itself, with a sharp transfer that brings out every line of ink. (I have to thank Disney, in fact, because this DVD sold my wife on the format.) Though the look of the film is meant to be dark, the colors are still full and vibrant.

    Both picture and sound carry THX Certification, and if that little logo didn't make it obvious, your ears would. You can hear every last bit of phlegm in Leonard Nimoy's voice. It's a good thing.

    Disney has added in not just audio commentary from directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise with producer Don Hahn, but visual commentary. Whenever a point in the audio commentary requires a visual aid, the film will stop and go to the team in their studio. From there they show what they're talking about before returning to the film.

    Some of us have been waiting for that kind of integration of the extras, and it really helps to keep deleted scenes, alternate takes and the like in context. Plus it's just really cool to strain looking for that extra crewmember waving at the camera from the submarine.

    The DisneyPedia might prove interesting for the kids, but it really only gives cursory information on each topic. On top of that, the narrator reads his information uninvolvingly. It might have been better to include the Disney special from last summer that covered the real search for Atlantis. A little slick and laden with ABC self-promotion, perhaps, but it still would have made a good extra, and its absence is curious.

    Still, Disney has more than three hours of extras waiting on the second disc. Chief among those are, of course, deleted sequences and little "behind-the-scenes" documentaries. The sheer volume of information is almost overwhelming, but nicely presented. In some ways, it's the equivalent of an art book; you can just keep going back to it to see your favorite stuff.

    Mine would be the Mignola Gallery. Though it's present on both discs, the version on the second one allows you to linger on each sketch. Compare to the storyboards done before they brought him in, and you can really see the influence this quirky but cool artist wielded.

    The disc offers three ways to view the supplements, either in one continuous reel, through a 3-D interface duplicating the submarine bridge, or (for those less prosaic) in straightforward file form. All three methods get introduced through a bonus "newsreel" narrated by Preston Whitmore (John Mahoney).

    For those who really just want to watch the movie, Disney has offered up a single-disc version, with the same attention to technical specs. Either way, it's a movie you really need to catch up and see.

    Atlantis - The Lost Empire (Collector's Edition)

    Atlantis - The Lost Empire (Regular)

    Derek McCaw


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