Saturday, October 26, 2013

Disney Sequelester - Atlantis: Milo's Return

Before we dive our arms up to the elbows in the guts of this movie (you're welcome for that lovely and accurate visual), let me tell you a story, my darlings. It's a story of loss and hope and redemption and a really really crappy movie.

Last week B and I went on vacation, away to a lovely little cabin in the woods.

Not that cabin.
At one point he suggested, "Why don't we watch that Atlantis sequel you need to see?", because thankfully B likes watching me make fun of things (and yes, I MST3K these things while I watch. Even if I'm alone. Also while I'm in movie theaters. I'm popular). Which, thank God right, because it would suck if B didn't think I'm funny since I think I'm HILARIOUS.

Off to Netflix Instant. We turned on the movie. We sat.

B: "You know, I kind of liked the first movie."
Me: "You are a worthless human being."
B: "Thanks sweetheart, I... woah, what happened to the animation?"
Me: "I think they budgeted it out. Wait, what's happening? Where are we? Why is there a kraken? These sailors weren't in the original movie."
B: "You can tell the difference between characters?"
Me: "Oh look, it's the narrator, riding her lava jetski. And explaining things. She's explaining things A LOT."

Me: "She's still talking."
Me: "She's still talking."
Me: "She's still talking."
B: "This is almost an interesting set-up. I mean, we're starting off down in Atlantis with everything going well..."
Me: "...they're finally using their lifetime supply of blue Day-Glo..."
B: " I have no idea how they're going to get Milo's crew down here. Maybe World War I breaks out and they need help? Or they discover something terrible about to happen to Atlantis?" Or -"
Me: "Or they got bored so they plowed fifteen miles underwater to get dinner and see how he's doing."

No, really. This is the plot. "Plot".
Ten minutes later, I finally said, "Okay enough, we're on vacation. I'll watch this torture alone," and B threw a parade.

Atlantis 2: Milo's Return is not a movie, okay? And I'm not just saying that because it's horribly done and makes no sense (although those are also a factor). Notice how there's this long Animorphs-style "Last week on" spiel at the beginning, and the "plot" actually consists of three completely separate stories? Huh, it's almost like they cancelled a TV show called "Team Atlantis" and just smooshed the ditched episodes together into a "movie". BUT THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN, RIGHT?

You may notice that this is not a very visual-heavy review. That's because I couldn't be arsed to take constant screencaps. If this movie won't try, neither will I.

Let me sum up the plots for you. They go in order as follows:

Be afraid.
1. There's a kraken.
2. If you mess with mystical Indian bullcrap, coyotes will turn you into a ghost. I'm so not kidding.
3. By far the most interesting in theory if not in practice, an old dude thinks that he's Odin and kidnaps Angelina Jolantis for.... profit? Actually, he wants to destroy the world, which is a motive that always makes me think the villain isn't very bright. Since the villain is generally in the world, that probably isn't going to work out.

The ending, much like the beginning, has absolutely nothing to do with those three stories, thus rendering everything... what's the phrase I'm looking for... ah, yes, ENTIRELY POINTLESS.

Kida, who is technically a Disney princess but never shows up on greeting cards, decides that her entire life is a hollow sham of a lie, aka "let us share our light with the world"! And then brings Atlantis up to the surface through the power of "shut up she can".

And how does the known world react to this mind-blowing revelation,
occurring in the same year as World War I? Uhhh...
This movie took a "more is more" approach to screenwriters.
This travesty of a... thing on my screen... harks back to the original movie, which in my opinion is one of Disney's biggest misses of all time. Atlantis: The Lost Empire was a passion project of Don Hahn, and it came out at a time when studios were looking at epic adventure stories as the next vampires [see: Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (Dreamworks), Titan AE (Fox Animation), Treasure Planet (also Disney)].

The only problem? Every single one of these movies was a colossal failure at the box office. Titan AE actually shut down Fox Animation for good, and the response to Sinbad led to the legendary Katzenberg declaring,"I think the idea of a traditional story being told using traditional animation is likely a thing of the past." (He was a just a TOUCH bitter about that $125M loss.)

Of these movies, the original Atlantis actually did the best at the box office with a modest return, while Treasure Planet was a box office disaster in spite of its unanimous critical praise and nomination for Best Picture.

This was the only thing in the entire blasted movie that made me laugh.
Clearly they really researched how ships work, right?
This is a trend that carries over to live-action as well: when was the last time that a big, sweeping adventure movie did well? In recent memory we've had Sahara, Prince of Persia, John Carter... None of which have done well. Hmm.

Going back to animated features, the last Disney movie that could even tentatively be called an "adventure story" in a traditional sense was Tarzan. But even that had a very narrow focus on the growth of Tarzan as a person, rather than him punching apes and lions in the jungle. Much like, say... almost every Pixar movie?

It's an undeniable fact that audience tastes do shift over time. Just look at the writing my Twitterer-in-crime Jurisfiction has to fend with. A sample of an 1850s book she's sporking over on her (hilarious) blog:  “Your lot is wretched, old man . . . if you live a few years longer, that period must be passed in solitude and cheerlessness:—if you suddenly fall ill you must die the lingering death of famine . . . and ere the peasants of that hamlet, or some passing traveler, might discover that the inmate of this hut had breathed his last, the wolves from the forest would have entered and mangled your corpse.” Circa now, the best-known book in the world utilizes the description "Oh my" about eight thousand times (and isn't that just a lovely thought).

Just like audiences will no longer tolerate 500 pages of "I was paid by the word", it seems that audience tastes now demand a clear focus on the growth of a protagonist. It's not enough to simply advertise "A dude is going to go a place and do COOL SHIT". You have to say "A dude is going to a place and doing stuff and LEARNING AND GROWING AS A PERSON."

Meanwhile, I've got to decide whether Lion King 1 1/2 counts as a sequel.


  1. Lion King 1 1/2? Do it!! ^_^

    Oh dear...this sounds like it was very painful for you. Poor guy tried to watch it with you, huh? I gotta say, the graphics in that third picture are positively mind blowing. I'm totally convinced that's a pool of lava, and not the most atrociously hideous painted sidewalk ever. Why did they even bother with this? I was thinking about the Chucky movies a couple weeks ago as I was partaking of the interestingness that is movie 6 of the series. I mean, it wasn't great, but at least they're still trying to be creepy and entertain people. And it actually was pretty creepy and entertaining. At the end, I was like, "huh?" But after a couple days, I find I actually like it. Lol!

    I guess my point is...Disney needs to stop slapping crap together. If they insist on doing the unnecessary, the least they can do is be a Chucky movie and put some effort into it.

    1. *SIGH* my fate is sealed.

      "I gotta say, the graphics in that third picture are positively mind blowing. I'm totally convinced that's a pool of lava, and not the most atrociously hideous painted sidewalk ever." <--- cracked me up.

      Good point about the Chucky movie ilk. And another thing in the Chucky movies' favor is that the original Chucky movie is really not very good, in a technical sense - there's a lot of "a wizard did it" and people dying by stumbling like TEN YARDS to fall out a window. Which means, of course, that the bar is lower for a comparatively decent sequel.

  2. I was so excited I made this blog post, I squealed and smashed things on my desk. Also, WHY are we not in the same country? I MST3K during movies, too, and it drives people nuts.

    1. So excited you smashed things - see, THIS is why I love you. And omg yes NEXT TIME WE ARE BOTH ON THE SAME SIDE OF THE ATLANTIC.