Imagine, if you will, a film starring Michael J. Fox. Co-starring Leonard Nimoy and Claudia Christian (Ivanova, for you Babylon 5 fans). Featuring linguistic work by Marc Okrand (the guy who created the Klingon language). Co-written by Joss Whedon. Animated by Disney, with a healthy dose of CG. And available on Netflix to boot.
Would Brian be interested in such a film? Yes, Brian would.
And Brian (who apparently is speaking in the third person now?) watched it with Betsy on Saturday.
So first of all: yep, it’s good. Apparently Whedon didn’t have a whole lot to do with it (there are five other co-writers, and I’m told his contribution ended up being minimal) but I daresay it still has a bit of a Whedon-ish vibe. Weird fantasy stuff? Check. Funnier than most sitcoms? Check. Girl with crazy/scary superpowers? Check. Lots and lots of death? El checko.
(Seriously, this is a kids’ movie that earns its PG rating. The sheer quantity of people who die onscreen is really remarkable. It’s not graphic or anything, but, I mean, damn.)
Nimoy’s voice acting as the king of Atlantis is great, but I loved hearing Claudia Christian even more. That’s partly because her character (blond on the right, above) doesn’t just sound like Ivanova from B5, she basically is Ivanova. Brave first officer on a dangerous mission, deeply sarcastic, the whole deal. Maybe a bit ethically challenged, but hey, they’ve gotta keep it fun.
Okay, I’ve rambled a lot about who is in the movie. But what’s it about?
To be honest, the plot isn’t super riveting. Ancient empire beneath the waves, plucky adventurer(s), exotic princess, a touch of genocide, glowy crystal magic, climactic battle — it’s all good stuff, but the dots connect in more-or-less typical Disney fashion. Where Atlantis shines is in the execution.
Visually, it’s beautiful, as I hope the screenshots convey. From the very first scene, Atlantis uses traditional animation and computer graphics in tandem, to powerful effect. Sometimes the character movements are a little over-the-top (a trait the film shares with Titan A.E., among others) but mostly it’s great.
The dialogue is top-notch too. The characters don’t just talk to move the plot along — they talk because they’re people who have something to say. In terms of making the movie come alive, everything basically clicks.
So is Atlantis the perfect movie? I remember thinking, about halfway through, that it actually kinda was. But the second half stumbled a bit IMO. Not any single thing, really — but the big “surprise” was obvious long in advance, and the pieces never quite came together in a really satisfying way. And even though the characters were vivid and realistic, I never fully connected with them. Not exactly sure why. Part of it may have been that there were just too many, so most of them — the princess especially — didn’t get enough screen time to really develop.
But it’s still a good time. And besides — I could forgive any number of flaws in a film that delivers this immortal line, which makes all writers on earth weep with jealousy because they didn’t think of it first:
Words of wisdom for us all.