Toon Talk: Atlantis: Milo's Return
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Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt
Beyond the Sea
After viewing the recent video premiere Atlantis: Milo's Return (the II has magically disappeared from the title, thank you), it is apparent that the biggest loss following the box office disappointment of Atlantis: The Lost Empire was the subsequent cancellation of plans to produce a television spin-off titled Team Atlantis.
Set after the events of the film, Team Atlantis was to take our heroes Milo, Kida and the rest of the Whitmore Expedition on a series of adventures around the globe, tracking down long lost artifacts that could be traced back to said lost empire of Atlantis. An exciting and intriguingly X-Files-esque concept for sure (especially for a show aimed largely at children), one that was almost all but lost itself when the production was halted following Atlantis' dismal debut in theaters. (Their thinking was "why base a TV show on a movie bomb?â€? Uh, ever hear of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?)
But all was not lost, for after successful video sales and rentals of Atlantis, the already completed footage of Team Atlantis was dusted off, rearranged and, with new segments added to connect the three separate episodes together ... voila! Instant sequel!
Although titled Milo's Return, the new film's real focus is on Kida, now Queen of Atlantis. With the rebuilding of her kingdom now underway following the restoration of the Heart of Atlantis (as seen at the conclusion of the first film), Kida now questions not only the separatist actions of her late father, but whether or not she should take the steps now available to her to integrate Atlantean culture back into that of the world at large.
If that all sounds a bit heady, its all subplot once Whitmore and his ragtag team of experts shows up to recruit Milo and Kida's aid to investigate mysterious sea monster sightings, and the adventure is on, leading these unlikely (and often reluctant) heroes on a trio of adventures to the bottom of the ocean, to the deserts of Arizona and the frozen mountains of Iceland, ultimately back to the fabled continent of Atlantis. Along the way, Kida learns more about the surprising connections between her people and the â€˜surface dwellers', knowledge which she must now use to make the ultimate decision.
Even with the limited animation quality expected from television animation, as well as several breaks in the action that were obvious "and now a word from our sponsor" moments, Milo's Return moves at a quick pace, and it is great to see all the characters again, such as the feisty Audrey, the dry Vinnie and the boisterous Dr. Sweet. Even the dirt-eating Mole is more ... digestible this time around. (Whitmore, Cookie and a now smoke-free Mrs. Packard also appear, albeit in more limited roles.) Even the addition of a â€˜cute animal sidekick' (Obby, a six-legged, rock eating Atlantean â€˜lava dog' who looks like a cross between Barney the Dinosaur and a Chia Pet) proves not as distracting as one would think; his presence even adds to the distinctly Scooby-Doo-like vibe of the mysteries they encounter, most notable in the first segment. (One half expects the disgruntled villain to claim, "If it wasn't for those nosy kids and their mangy dog ... â€?.) And even though the film is made up of three individual episodes from the supposed series, it avoids the awkwardness of such similar fare as, say, last year's Tarzan and Jane.