When Atlantis: The Lost Empire was released on video and DVD, there was a surprise inside the box-- a flyer advertising an all-new Atlantis movie. Immediately, excitement began building and rumors began flying. What would the new movie be like? What would it be about? Would it live up to its predecessor?
Atlantis II: Milo's Return (that....title....) was released straight-to-video (and DVD) on May 20, 2003. It consists of three adventures, which were intended to be episodes of a TV series entitled "Team Atlantis," which was cancelled. The opinions on the movie were mixed. Some thought it was great, and others thought it was horrible. Here, I'll give you synopses of the adventures, and then the critiques. WARNING: THIS PAGE INCLUDES SPOILERS!
The adventures begin when Mr. Whitmore and the rest of the original Atlantis Team drop by the hidden empire for a, ahem, visit. Whitmore informs Kida and Milo that a sea creature has been wreaking havoc in Norway, and that he suspects it might be an Atlantean device like the Leviathan. Milo and Kida join the explorers and head to the surface to investigate. As fate would have it, the creature was not an Atlantean machine, but in fact the legendary Kraken. The team discover a possessed village, a secret smuggling group, and a creepy chick named Inge or Ingrid (I couldn't tell with her accent), who looks like Helga on drugs. The explorers free the village from the Kraken's evil grasp, and peace (and sunlight) is restored.
Lisa's Take: I liked this adventure. It was pretty cool, and kind of creepy (in a good way). I always liked the legend of the Kraken, and I think it fits in well with the theme of Atlantis.
The second adventure was my favorite. Dr. Sweet summons the team to the American Southwest, where an old acquaintance of Mr. Whitmore's, Sam McKeane, has been attacked by sandstorm-coyotes. Upon questioning Sam (who was funnier than heck), the team begins tracking a set of stolen pottery, and along the way discover remnants of Atlantis' influence even in this part of North America. They cross paths with a crooked artifacts dealer, a ghostly old man, and more sandstorm-coyotes. Ultimately, they uncover a hidden Anasazi city with influences from almost every culture known, from Atlantis to the Olmec.
Lisa's Take: I loved this one! It was so cool! The wind-spirit guy was so creepy, it was awesome! It fits right in with what I studied in Archaeology.
The third and final adventure was kind of weird. Some crazy old guy named Mr. Hellstrom, who thinks he's Odin (the king of the Norse gods) steals the Spear of Atlantis in an attempt to bring about Ragnarok (the twilight of the gods and the final destruction of the current world). The team travels to Iceland only to find a giant ice monster and a super-cool floating castle (reminiscent of Revolutionary Girl Utena, only not upside-down). Once inside "Odin's" castle (appropriately dubbed "Asgard"), Kida tries to reason with the man, but all she accomplishes is convincing "Odin" that she is his daughter, Brunhilda (Kida looks cute in Valkyrie clothes!). After a struggle, Kida finally manages to use the Spear of Atlantis to prevent Ragnarok, and returns the spear to its rightful home. Once there, however, Kida must make an important decision about the future of Atlantis...
Lisa's Take: It is my educated opinion that Hellstrom is not Odin; rather, Odin is Odin. First of all, this guy doesn't even look, in any way, like Whitmore's picture of Hellstrom (he's not just older and skinnier; he's also got a totally different face-shape). Secondly, if Hellstrom is Odin, where did his eye go? He was a shipping millionaire, there's not much eye-threatening danger involved in that. And, why does he have so much power, even BEFORE stealing the spear? And he acts too much like Odin to not be Odin. Therefore, it is my opinion that this guy is, in fact, Odin, and that he eighty-sixed Hellstrom for impersonating a god (C'mon, this is Milo's Return, stranger things have happened!).
The animation: There were good points and bad points about the animation of this movie. They softened the characters' designs from the original, which I was extremely grateful for. However, since about The Little Mermaid II on, Disney has felt this incessant need to use the CAPS system on their TV shows and sequels. Let me clarify this. The CAPS system they use on their feature animated films does a very nice job and looks quite pretty. However, on these ones, they use this cheap, watered down version of the system that's so ugly that makes me want to cry. Atlantis II was no exception. And I won't even mention Kida's tattoos (or lack thereof).
The voices: OMG! OMG! OMG! The voices in this movie were utter perfection (although I suspect Phil Morris voiced both Sweet and Carnaby, which was a bit odd to hear). First of all, almost every voice actor reprised their original roles, which was awesome. James Arnold Taylor replaced Michael J. Fox as Milo, and can I tell you that I love this man's voice? If you played the Atlantis video game, you'd know that he also voiced Milo in the game, and he did such a good job on it that when I first played it, I didn't realize that it wasn't Michael J. Fox. HE'S SUCH A PERFECT MILO!!! Every time Milo talked, I was seriously overcome with a desire to hug the TV (Point of interest: James Arnold Taylor also voices the ever-loveable Tidus from Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2). As for Cookie-- who is that guy?! Did they seriously hire Jim Varney's ghost to voice him? Did he voice the sequel, too, before he died?! They found the PERFECT replacement for him! You can't even tell! He sounds just like him! Perfection, perfection!
The story: The story itself was pretty good, but...did it feel familiar to anybody? It should, because apparently, the writers of Gargoyles also wrote this movie, and the adventures mirror the Avalon subplot of Gargoyles extremely closely (i.e. Kraken adventure = Loch Ness Monster episode, American Southwest adventure = American Southwest episode, Odin adventure = Odin episode). I can't believe Disney didn't catch that. Or maybe they did and they're lazy.
The title: Milo's. Return. Could they have been any less creative? The French people got, "Les Enigmes De L'Atlantide," which, according to my French-speaking mother, means, "The Secret (or 'Mystery') of Atlantis." How much cooler of a title is that than, "Milo's Return?" Unfair! (Okay, I'm nitpicking)
The ending (spoilers!): The ending killed the movie. Bringing Atlantis back to the surface? WTF? What exactly was going through their minds? It ruined any credibility the first movie had (not to mention most fanfictions--although, since this takes place about 25 years after the first one and "The Dark Ones" was 10, I guess *mine* is safe ~_^). And come on! Those fishermen? (although it was funny when the fish jumped into the boat...) First of all, the boat would have capsized. There's no way it could have stayed upright! And then, when the Stone Giant loomed ferociously in front of them, and the Ketaks started zooming around their heads, they didn't run away in fear--they smiled! Oh, yeah. Soooo plausible. At the end of the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, a giant Klingon Bird of Prey (warship) looms in front of these olden-time whalers, and they're so freaked out that they turn tail speed away so fast that it's a wonder their ship didn't tip over. THAT's what would have happened! Sheesh.
The romance factor: OMG! Cute! Milo and Kida are soooo adorable (especially with James Arnold Taylor voicing Milo)! Lots of hugging, and some almost-kissing (contrary to what you may have heard, Milo and Kida do not once kiss on the mouth, only on the cheek). One of my favorite parts of the movie was in the American Southwest, when Milo thinks Kida was killed. He literally screams, "KIDA!!!!!!" and falls to his knees in grief. It was so sad! I was nearly in tears. Milo, do you need a hug?
The humor factor: Funniest parts of the movie? In my opinion, it was the scene in the trading post in the American Southwest. First, Milo and Kida get into it about spears in glass cases.
Kida: Why is this spear in a glass case?
Milo: For protection.
Kida: I know what a spear is for, but why is it in a glass case? (And so on)
And it's twice as funny later when the Spear of Atlantis is stolen, and Kida says, "You should have protected it by putting it in a glass case!"
Then, also in the trading post, Kida wants to buy this figurine, and she hands the cashier this HUGE wad of bills for it. Milo's like, "Nooooooo!!!"
Also hilarious was the part where they were talking to Sam McKeane in the hospital.
TA: Where did you find [this amulet]?
SM: In a pot.
TA: What pot?
SM: In a crate.
TA: What crate?
SM: In my shack.
TA: WHAT SHACK?!
The shemubin factor: I had been so disappointed when the shemubin scene got cut from the first movie, so I was thrilled when they prominently featured Obbi as Milo and Kida's pet lava whale!
The bottom line: Okay, I'll be the first to admit, this movie wasn't the greatest. But from all the bad reviews I'd hears, I was expecting much, much worse. It didn't cause me bodily pain to watch. I actually enjoyed it. It was a romp, and good, clean fun. Sure, the ending was awful, but if you didn't take it seriously, and just sat back and didn't think about it too much, it was pretty fun to watch! My advice is, even if you don't like it, don't let it ruin the first movie for you. There's always fanfic, and alternate universes to consider. Just take it with a grain of salt and you'll be fine!
But don't take my word for it!
Here are reviews from other Atlantis fans!
Samantha rates it:
"Atlantis 2 was one of the cutest sequels I've seen. Milo and Kida fans will love it! (One word- Romance) Rent it or something! You have to see this movie!"
Lone Wolfdog rates it:
"I sort of agree with Sam on that one. It was an interesting movie,but you had to be interested in weird things to understand it. Yes, there was some romace -- Milo kisses Kida twice! -- but they could of done better. They should of taken one of the episodes from the T.V. show and added to it or some thing. The only thing that realy ticked me off was the ending-- Atlantis coming to the surface? Come on! It was cute, but they should have put more time into the sequel."
Femme Milo rates it: "When I heard new about an Atlantis sequel, I was very excited. As the waiting went on, I wonder what was going to happen in the movie. Finaly on May 20, 2003, I got it. It was good, but it didn't have the same artwork as the first movie. Music was different too. It wasn't as good as the first movie, but at least it had alot of cute Milo and Kida parts. I freaked out with excitement when I saw Milo kiss Kida, but I do wish they did a mouth to mouth one. In case you never heard this, in the first movie the original idea of restoring Kida and saving Atlantis from the lava flow was that Miklo had to kiss Kida by mouth to mouth. I saw the painting of it in the original treatment on the Atlantis: The Lost Empire 2-Disc Collector's Edition. The sequel was funny but it did had more depressing parts than the first one. Milo and his friends getting tied up, they become frozen humans by the Frost Giant (Ahh! It burns! I can feel Milo's pain!) I reminds me of Pokémon and Ed, Edd, and Eddy."
Julie rates it:
"Some things were just meant to remain buried. All I can say is, 'Eew!' It was bad! Very bad! Eek! What were they thinking? And that ending! Kill me now! And how about the part that seemed lifted right out of one of my stories? Huh? Huh? Thieving jerks! I usually like the sequels. I really do. This and Aladdin 3-The King of Thieves are the only clunkers in my book. So I'll do what I always do when I don't like a movie. I'll ignore it. Milo's Return therefore does not exist in my universe. I'm sticking with the fanfic! Take that, Disney TV people, who ripped off more movies in this than I can count! (It went way beyond just Gargoyles!)"
Delphina rates it:
"Wow... can we all just *ignore* that movie? Like Julie said, I'm sticking with the fanfiction. I think Disney, for their own good, should go look around at some of our fanfics. Some of the worst ones are better than Atlantis 2. All of us folks in the fanfiction universe can at least tie in plots somehow to the first ending. Don't get me wrong, the individual "episodes" were okay, it's just how they connected them that sucked. Anyone could have done that! You'd think that the creators of Atlantis would at least make up something original, but no, we're stuck with 'Oh, word just came in that there's trouble in (fill in the blank here)!' And, SPOILER ALERT the ending was just ridiculous. How did it tie into the story? What was the Spear of Destiny? Huh? And it was so final. What was Disney thinking? I think maybe they should have stuck with the last little story and elaborated on it more to make it more believeable. And *barf* the animation put everything Disney has done in the past to complete shame. Just about everything that made the animation in the original nothing short of spectacular was contridicted by A2. Smooth, lifelike animation? Pah! Attention to detail? No! Consistancy in character design? Nada! And what about the voices? They've gotta be somewhat good, I mean, they've got most of the original cast, right? Wrong again! Nobody, I repeat nobody seemed like they were having fun. At all. Not even Don Novello, for God's sake, put up a reasonably good fight. It sounded like it took five men to hold him down, one to move his mouth, and another three to operate his vocal chords so he could say that one line, 'And locks- big ones.' What happened, Disney?