There is something fishy in Atlantis (it’s not the linguistics)

So, last week we watched Atlantis and The Rescuers.

Wait, you want to know how script writing is going?  Have a hint: Vladimir Putin.  No, but seriously– we’ve got a bunch of pages of notes and have realized that we both are kinda sorta awful at planning things.  When things settle down a little bit for me, I plan on getting a real post about it out (I might have missed a week, maybe?).

Anyway, lets talk about Atlantis because this was a movie I’ve seen twice recently and I mis-pegged it the first time around.  Oh, it’s still bad.  Atlantis bombed in the box office, and although Disney has done worse, it’s not exactly a movie I recommend.  Which is sad, because look at how cool that submarine is.

Pity it gets like... 5 minutes of screen time.
Pity it gets like… 5 minutes of screen time.

I’m used to this problem by now, because I work with computers, but if you’re a linguist and you want to see Atlantis… get ready to cringe.  Also, feel my pain.  However, I’m pretty used to professions being magic in Disney movies, so I don’t think this is where the film fails.  I’m sure sewing is too complicated for actual mice, but I won’t poke that hole in Cinderella.  You got to buy into some baseline amount hand waving/magic.  In this case, linguistics (much like friendship) is magic.

So, that’s out.

I gotta give credit where credit is due– the movie is hilarious.  Hands down, the supporting cast’s one liners are comedy gold.  And, hey, all the cast members get a bit of back story, except for Mole because you don’t ask about Mole’s back story.

Most of each back story snippet is, in fact, a little quirky and interesting.  The demolitions expert wants to open a flower shop, the mechanic was pressured into being great at repairing things by a father who wanted sons, the doctor got into war medicine from being drafted.

I had originally thought that Atlantis’ great failing was it’s protagonist.  Milo Thatch falls under the same problems as Jim from Treasure Planet.  Namely, that sometimes protagonists are less people and more just shells that we the audience are supposed to project ourselves into.

However, on re-watch… I no longer buy into that theory.  Milo is a fleshed out character.  He adores his father who perished before the outset of the movie.  He has a dream, and is willing to sacrifice everything on it.  He’s that ubiquitous awkward nerd type.  Now, he just needs a good character arc and he’s set.

Unfortunately, the plot to Atlantis is about as ramshackle as they come.  Lets start with character motivations, shall we?

It isn’t through any achievement of Milo’s that he gets to hang out with the cool kids (aka the rest of the cast).  They just get bored of teasing him, and then everyone is friends, apparently.  They continue to tease Milo after he’s proven his specialty in gibberish is useful, and then just sorta… stop.

Milo’s lack of arc is not helped by his love interest.  Which, by the way, can we just say it’s really awkward when Disney goes for sex appeal?  I mean, at least it isn’t a stripping mouse this time (go watch The Great Mouse Detective if you don’t believe me), but come on.  It’s even worse in the fact that Kida doesn’t do a whole lot– she’s basically just there to look nice, and then be a plot device.

"See, Sailor Moon, I can make adolescent boys confused too!"

No, but seriously.  Most of Kida’s dialogue is during her “date” ( which is going pretty badly, based on the conversation) with Milo.  Also, that scene is painfully bad– the running gag isn’t funny, and it just makes you wonder if Kida suffered a blow to the head during that whole apocalypse 8500-8800 years ago.

Other than that, she delivers exposition to Milo, spurs on his already well established curiosity, and gets turned into a crystal.

Also, although our supporting cast has back story, they don’t really develop.  They pull a pretty random about-face when they realize that their actions will lead the entire Atlantean population to die (at least the movie is willing to lampshade it).  And the villain will eventually turn on his compatriot for no apparent reason.

And I think that pokes at the huge flaw here.  Things just happen because they do, and explanation is hard to come by.  How is Atlantis’ culture dying?  Never explained.  How did an entire population forget how to read their own script? Never explained.  Why does the crystal only feel threatened when they kick a tiny pebble somewhere close to it?  Not explained.  Outsiders can’t see Atlantis and live, so did the King plan on murdering them after letting them restock their supplies and spend the night, or did he just assume that they’d eventually starve to death looking for a way back to the surface?

So many plot holes, so many questions.  So, despite a strong grounding with a really cool setting (look at that sub picture again), some great characters (I’d watch a TV series that’s just the crew just putting around, exploring places), the lackluster plot really hurts this film.

We shall do better!

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About relimited

Sup. I'm a computer science grad student out in California currently reading fairy tales rather than writing a strong testing framework.

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