Atlantis: The Lost Empire



Entertaining but intense adventure for tweens and up.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: May 18, 2003
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

The movie is intended to entertain rather than educate. The myth of Atlantis is sure to be intriguing to kids, but some clarification might be needed in terms of its true place in history.

Positive messages

Though Milo is trying to save a culture that's been living in peace for centuries, his colleagues have no problem destroying the city and its inhabitants for the sake of material gain. There are examples of both multicultural teamwork and greedy, violent behavior.

Positive role models

While Milo is a positive character who's doing his best to preserve a culture, Rourke starts out as a strong leader but in the end is shown to be a ruthless mercenary who cares very little about human worth. The explorers hire Milo under the pretext that they're finding Atlantis for adventure's sake, but they're really in it for the money, which causes them to betray Milo and the people of Atlantis.

Violence & scariness

Edgier and darker than much Disney fare. There are apocalyptic scenes of mass destruction and large weapon caches, which include dynamite, nitroglycerin, machine guns, various hand guns, grenades, torpedoes, and more. All of these weapons are used at various points of the movie. Hundreds of shipmates are killed when they suffer an attack by a giant monster. Rourke punches the village elder and ultimately causes his death. Lots of explosions, a fight with an ax, a bad guy is chopped up by a blade, and there's an attempt to commit genocide.

Sexy stuff

Revealing clothes worn by some female characters make the males bashful. Talk by an older woman of sleeping in the nude.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Mr. Whitmore drinks two martinis in succession after doing yoga. A character chain smokes. Joke about whiskey.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is scarier and more intense than much Disney animated fare, with larger-than-life scenes of mass destruction (by crushing tidal wave, sea monsters, molten lava, and more). There are also lots of dive-bombing planes and guns, a huge robot monster, fire, and the deaths of hundreds of anonymous sailors. Characters are mean to each other, and some betray each other. Major characters are in peril, and some are killed. One character is a chain-smoker, and there are jokes about whiskey and sleeping in the nude.

What's the story?

In this action-packed animated adventure, scholar and linguist Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox) dreams of finding the lost city of Atlantis, which had been his grandfather's quest. A wealthy friend of his grandfather's offers to fund an expedition, and Milo sets off on a submarine led by Commander Lyle T. Rourke (James Garner). The expedition culminates in a ferocious battle with the monstrous Leviathan, which destroys the ship and kills most of the crew. The survivors face obstacles but finally make it to Atlantis, where they meet Princess Kida (Cree Summer). She wants to make friends with the strangers, but her father wants them killed so that no one else will find Atlantis. Can Milo find a way to save what's become his real home?

Is it any good?


Disney departs from its traditional animation formula with this nonmusical, intense action adventure about the search for the legendary city that mysteriously disappeared in ancient times. Fox appealingly provides Milo's voice, and the movie does a good job of showing a diverse group of characters working well together -- plus, there are both male and female good guys and bad guys.

But parents should know that this is a decidedly different Disney animated feature -- it's rated PG for violence, and it earns that rating. There are many intense action scenes, the characters are mean to each other, and some are killed. One character chain smokes, and there are jokes about whiskey and sleeping in the nude.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the action violence in this movie compares to other animated movies. Does it seem more intense? What if it was live action?

  • An anachronism is something appearing in a time different from the one it belongs to (i.e. a phone showing up in a movie set in ancient Greece). Are there anachronisms in this movie? Does that bother you?

  • Kids might want to learn more about the legends of Atlantis and read about the Greek Island of Santorini, which may be the source for some of them.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 15, 2001
DVD release date:January 29, 2002
Cast:James Garner, Leonard Nimoy, Michael J. Fox
Directors:Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:action violence

This review of Atlantis: The Lost Empire was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byangelabovedemonbelow March 4, 2011

For tweens and teens

I saw this movie when I was very little and what I didn't remember about it was all the 'sexy stuff' nor the violence. What I remembered was a magical world with a whimpy but good-natured lead character and a very good plot. There is violence, but have a fun time not finding that in any movie today.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Parent of a 5 and 10 year old Written bymichugalug July 22, 2010

The "sexy stuff" and violence was what made me NOT want my 10-year-old to see it

Unless you fast-forward it, this movie contains a scene with a woman with a low-cut, tight dress, cleavage and a long slit. She rubs her bare thigh, takes off her fur shawl, lets the shoulder strap fall down and slouches down in the share, talking in a seductive tone with sexy music playing in the background. All this goes on while the man is obviously drooling over her. An old highly endowed woman states that she sleeps in the nude and the men joke around that they need to put an eye mask on because she walks around (nude) at night. This is a Disney amimated movie? A robot makes a sexual proposition to a scantily clad woman with lots of cleavage. She punches him. The proposition might go over kids' heads and it is in French and whispered in her her ear, but it may also provoke questions. Later, this same female looks as though she is going to undress in front of a blue lagoon and turns to stand in a very seductive pose while the guy is awestruck with her body and sex appeal as she takes off her skirt. There is chain smoking and talk of a need for whisky, Lot's of threatening with guns and beating up people to pressure them for information. Talk of killing a civilization and it being pleasurably worth double the price. Felt like I was watching a non-animated R movie for adults. Lots of scenes with people trying to kill people. Lots of beating up. Not a movie for kids. Disney could have done so much more without all the garbage. Aside from all the inappropriate stuff for kids, it was not a good movie anyway.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byEmiEss February 20, 2011
The comment below is really over-exaggerating... This is a great movie. I really can't put into words how much I love it. I saw it in the theater with my dad when it first came out when I was 4 and it's been my favorite ever since. People who think this movie is "too much" for their kids are really taking it too seriously and trying to brainwash their children into thinking the world is a perfect haven. Really, just let them watch it. It's such an amazing movie. Oh, also- this doesn't really matter here as far as appropriateness, but the soundtrack is PHENOMENAL.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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