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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Atlantis 2: Milo's Return
Atlantis 2: Milo's Return
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // Unrated // May 20, 2003
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Matthew Millheiser | posted May 18, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

As one of the roughly 16 people who really, really liked Disney's 2001 animated feature Atlantis: The Lost Empire, I still shuddered upon hearing that Disney was releasing a Direct-To-Video (DTV) sequel of the film. Many feel that Disney's policy of mass-producing cheaply made sequels to their animation library not only floods the Home Video market with a glut of lousy family titles, but that they also cheapen the legacy of the original film. One needs only to look at Cinderella 2: Dreams Come True, Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamp's Adventure and The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 to see why Disney DTV sequels have given the overused descriptor "craptacular" a new lease on life.

It doesn't help matters much that these DTV sequels are either produced by Disney's television animation wings or farmed out to outside firms. The results are pretty obvious, too. Gone are the rich, dense backgrounds and the depth of character animation and shadows. The resulting artwork might pass muster on the Toon Disney channel, sandwiched somewhere between The Adventures of Timon and Pumbaa and that wretched 101 Dalmations cartoon. Blecch.

So where exactly does that leave us? For me to proclaim that Disney DTV sequels are horrifically disappointing is pretty much as deep a revelation as proclaiming that "DIVX sucks!" Welcome to last week. That having been said, Atlantis: Milo's Return is somewhat different. Before the theatrical release of Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Disney was already planning a weekday television spinoff series based on the film. It would feature all of the film's main characters as they travel not only through Atlantis but around the world investigating pseudo-paranormal events that were loosely related to the Atlantic empire. The show was to be called Team Atlantis and hopefully coast off of the huge success that Atlantis: The Lost Empire was sure to become…

… except that it didn't quite turn out that way. Atlantis: The Lost Empire barely cleared $80 million in domestic box office and was considered a colossal disappointment by Disney (mind you, this was before Treasure Planet's paltry $40 million gross off of a $140 million investment.) As mentioned before, I felt the film was great fun and one heck of a fine adventure story, and didn't deserve that stigma that it inevitably got stuck with. But with the film's disappointing box office revenues, Disney scuttled the Team Atlantis project just as it began production. Three of the episodes already been produced, so Disney decided to salvage the operation by collecting all three stories, creating some transitional material to bridge them, and releasing them as a DTV sequel.

The result is Atlantis: Milo's Return, a disposable but reasonably time-killing enterprise that, by the looks of things, would have made for a fine weekday television series. It's full of action, adventure, and some nice character moments. As a movie, however, Atlantis: Milo's Return is fine but not something you'd remember or even think of an hour later.

The DVD

Video:

Atlantis: Milo's Return is presented in "family friendly" widescreen, which, if you aren't fluent in Disneyspeak, roughly translates to 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. The video is pleasing, with strong colors that showcase the animation's vast palette. Images are sharp and sport fine detail. Black levels are fairly deep with decent shadow delineation. The print is reasonably clean, with little debris or noise. Compression pixellation and artifacts remain absent. The only real issue is extremely noticeable edge-enhancement and haloing throughout the picture. The pencil lines feature some rather loose stability, resulting in an overly sharp picture with too much compensation in contrast levels. If the picture would have been smoothed out the video rating would have sufficiently improved. Still, for a DTV effort the DVD looks pretty good.

Audio:

The audio presentation sports fairly peppy DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks, with a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track included as well. While I did not detect discernable differences between the DTS and Dolby Digital channels (other than in the volume levels) I was fairly impressed with the quality of the audio. The mix is fairly enveloping, with frequent and effective use of the surrounds and some nice oomph in the LFE channel. The fidelity of the orchestral score demonstrates fine depth, while the front channels sport effective directionality. Dialog sounds clear and bright without hiss or distortion. While the overall audio is not especially aggressive, it does a very good job in presenting the movie in an immersive environment.

The Extras

As with many Disney DVDs, you are bombarded with Sneak Peeks the moment you put the DVD into your player. Thankfully, I will not call them "forced trailers" because any monkey who can't find the "Menu" button on his remote should stick to VHS. That having been said, in this section you can find trailers for The Lion King: Special Edition, Haunted Mansion, The Jungle Book 2, Stitch! The Movie, Bionicle: Mask of Light, Kim Possible, and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

Search For The Spear of Destiny is a "Dragon's Lair" style game where you have to guide your submarine pod to find the legendary spear. The Deleted Scene: "Kraken Baby Sequence" is really an extended version of an existing scene, and doesn't really add much to your enjoyment of the "movie."

Final Thoughts:

I cannot really make a compelling argument in favor of Atlantis: Milo's Return. Although the film sports a fine transfer and a fairly impressive audio presentation, the movie itself, while fine and non-offensive entertainment, really isn't that compelling. Perhaps more than anything else, it's a decent look at what might have made a pretty terrific TV series for kids. The extras are fairly useless and don't really add much value to the set. I would say that if you were a big Atlantis: The Lost Empire fan, Atlantis: Milo's Return might make for an OK purchase if you can get it at a good price. Otherwise, you'd be better off renting.

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