Saving Atlantis

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Saving Atlantis Movie Poster Image
Earnest docu about corals hopes research will find answers.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 90 minutes

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Positive Messages

Coral reefs are vital to humans. They provide shelter from severe weather events, habitat for food that sustains people and provides their livelihoods all around the world. It's not too late, but time is running out if we're going to save coral reefs for future generations. Academic research will hopefully provide solutions to helping coral survive bleaching and ocean waters getting warmer and becoming more acidic.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Local people who have lived near coral reefs for generations know their value, and how and when to harvest their resources in a sustainable way. Scientists, academics also know value of coral reefs and, by learning all they can about them, hope to stop them from dying out. 


Some mild gore when a group of people carry a dead shark onto shore and in cleaning and preparing fish to eat.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Saving Atlantis is a documentary about corals and the importance of coral reefs to our planet and all of us who live on it. Lots of educational value: What exactly corals are, how reefs are formed, what they're worth, how they impact people, medical and research benefits, how coral are dying off, and what problems and dangers that dying off represents. There's some mild gore when people carry a dead shark onto shore and when people are cleaning and preparing fish to eat. Made by Oregon State University, the documentary's main emphasis is on academic research and how it can help save coral. Ultimately it emphasizes that it's still not too late to save coral reefs, but that time is quickly running out. Messages and themes stress that we need to learn all we can about coral and how to help them survive. Hopefully young people's interest in studying the oceans will be sparked so that they can continue to look for solutions that will save the reefs.

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What's the story?

SAVING ATLANTIS shows how the loss of corals and coral reefs impacts our lives. It explains what exactly corals are, what we know about them, and all that we still don't know about them. It shows how they provide protection and benefit people, from severe weather to possibly holding the keys to medical discoveries, and of course, how they sustain the ocean life that in turn sustains us. It places a strong emphasis on research as the key to understanding how we can save coral, and hopefully help it recover and adapt to our changing ocean environment.

Is it any good?

This earnest documentary about endangered coral is less of a call to action about climate change and more about sparking scientific interest in young people today, leading to answers in the future. Saving Atlantis definitely has a lot of eye-catching (and sometimes even dizzying) underwater footage, but the emphasis is on academic and scientific research and not on how to put a stop to global warming. The gentle, quiet emphasis on information and study are unlikely to hold the interest of younger kids, but there's no content of concern if they want to drift in and out while the rest of the family watches.

Tweens and teens especially will be inspired to learn more by the Australian program that shows how indigenous and modern scientific knowledge can be equally valuable in understanding how to save and sustain coral reefs. They'll also be interested in the people from such diverse places as Saudi Arabia, French Polynesia, and Colombia and how they depend on and hope to preserve corals and coral reefs for future generations. Overall, the messages are hopeful that it's not too late while making it clear that time is running out.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they learned from Saving Atlantis about coral. What's a coral? How is something so small so important to our planet and our lives?

  • What did you learn about corals or coral reefs that you didn't know before? Is there anything you'd like to learn more about? Search the internet or go to your library to find out more.

  • How can learning more about corals, like their life cycle, how they reproduce, or how they impact other ocean life, help save them?

Movie details

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