I may not have loved this movie, but it's another good example of something I'm gonna end up going against the grain on. It actually surprised me to learn that this movie earned a Rotten Tomato average of 51.5%. To be fair, that's the masses meeting pretty much in the middle, but I definitely thought it would have been ranked a bit higher. Anyway, digressing.
This film marks a pretty good point in time where the visuals of newfound CG animation really show. Stylistically, I feel like whether you like it or not, we can pretty much agree that it's beautifully filmed for 2001. The thing is, this is a CG test title following another CG test title, and a problem is generally presented when the style trumps the substance. And I'll admit that most of what I liked about this was how it all looked along with several characters - a few of whom I really liked. The story is admittedly pretty familiar, but I appreciated the execution.
It all starts when a tsunami hits the city of Atlantis, sinking it, and leaving an abandoned child; Princess Kida behind. She's okay though because the Queen merges with a crystal that creates a protective dome over Atlantis before it sinks. There, the remaining Atlantians live in their lost city for 8,000 years. We then go to 1914 where we meet Milo Thatch (Michael J. Fox); a linguist working for the Smithsonian Institution, and a bit of an expert on the Lost City of Atlantis. He is interviewed and recruited by millionaire Preston B. Whitmore (John Mahoney) to decipher the Shephard's Journal, which is said to contain directions to the Lost City.
Milo joins the expedition, along with a handful of colourful and mostly likable characters. Commander Rourke (James Garner) leads the expedition which also consists of the badass Helga Sinclaire (Claudia Christian), demolitions expert, Vinny (Don Novello), geologist, Molière (Corey Burton), medical officer, Dr. Sweet (Phil Morris), mechanic, Audrey (Jacqueline Obradors), radio operator, Mrs. Packard (Florence Stanley) and chef, Cookie (Jim Varney). Following a traumatic struggle, the group do eventually get to Atlantis and meet Kida (Cree Summer), her father (Leonard Nimoy) and a handful of others. However, as Milo thinks they're there to discover and explore, the team may or may not have different plans.
Admittedly, the whole thing does come off as the typical 'Avatar' plot (with a twist or two), but much like 'Avatar', I can still appreciate this in its execution. I kind of wish I took the time to check this out upon its initial release. I think I could have had fun with this one on the big screen, considering how smooth and clean the CG action scenes are. But while I may have enjoyed it for what it was, I can see where a lot of the criticisms come from. Even I had a bit of a problem with how overly animated Milo's character seemed. I love Michael J Fox, but something about Milo just kinda bugged me. Other than that though, my criticisms of this are limited enough that it still gets a pass. If you ask me, it's kind of underrated.