By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
Atlantis may be a boy’s own story, but it’s clear that some fairy godmother has been whispering into the ears of Disney’s animation folks to the effect that their wasp-waisted leading ladies — Belle, Pocahontas, Mulan, even that moist little merperson beneath the waves — don’t quite cut it as feminist heroines. Intended or not, the movie’s finest joke is that the hero, a bookworm who couldn’t change a light bulb if his life depended on it, is surrounded by enough musclebound female help (and hindrance) to get him where he wants to be, including past the mechanical lobster that guards the entrance to the lost city and tries to pincer the sub. The cast is as multiculti and multinational as it needs to be to generate worldwide box office — there’s a black medical officer (Phil Morris) aptly named Dr. Sweet, a charmingly conceived French-accented geologist and compulsive digger named Moliere (Corey Burton), and so forth. But it’s the women who make the biggest splash. Rourke’s lieutenant, a scowling ball-buster named Helga (Claudia Christian), looks as though she just blew in from the gym. Audrey (Jacqueline Obradors), a sassy Latina mechanic with bulging biceps and dreams of professional boxing, and Mrs. Packard (Florence Stanley), a hilariously mouthy, chain-smoking old broad who mans a switchboard, become Milo’s loyal allies and saviors. And all this before we even get to the love interest, Princess Kida (Cree Summer), an 8,500-year-old Atlantis beauty in bikini top and loincloth, who, despite being frozen into the crystal that holds the secret of Atlantis’ long-ago comeuppance, joins Milo in flushing the rotten apples from his barrel and restoring the lost continent to its former glory.
Atlantis’ final battle for the shimmering aquamarine city, with its flying crystal-powered Stonefish, is a sight to behold. Tab Murphy’s amusingly literary screenplay, with its breezy references to Plato, the Book of Job and natural selection, no less, goes a long way to compensate for the statutory moralizing that accompanies any animated movie made on Disney premises. “Mercenary?” roars one member of the team who turns out to be a bad lot. “I prefer the term adventure capitalist.” Down with stuffy careerism! Follow your bliss! Down with the profit motive! Up with principles and collective action! . . . The multiple ironies may not be lost on adult moviegoers, but they’ll sail straight over the heads of the kids the movie is aimed at. Which could turn out to be a good thing, if they grow up taking these values to heart and decide not to go to work for a corporation that, like Disney, lays off its employees by the pound, only to turn around and spend $5 million on a premiere for Pearl Harbor.
SEXY BEAST | Directed by JONATHAN GLAZER Written by LOUIS MELLIS and DAVID SCINTO | Produced by JEREMY THOMAS Released by Fox Searchlight Pictures | At selected theaters
ATLANTIS: The Lost Empire | Directed by GARY TROUSDALE and KIRK WISE Written by TAB MURPHY | Produced by DON HAHN Released by Walt Disney Pictures | Citywide
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