film & game reviews, the retro way.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire may not have been the resounding box-office success Disney had been hoping for back in 2001 but that did not stop the studio from releasing a direct-to-video sequel based on a planned series that never saw the light of day.
After giving up on the follow-up they originally wanted to make, Disney decided to turn their Atlantis franchise into an animated series but when that particular plan also fell through, the first three episodes of the show essentially became Atlantis: Milos' Return, a feature-length mash-up of all three stories. With most of the original cast returning save for Michael J. Fox and the late Jim Varney, Milo's Return could have made, if not a worthy sequel, a welcome addition to the original film.
While you can tell very quickly from the animation and the backgrounds that this was made on a much lower budget, the story draws you in quickly as Milo (James Arnold Taylor) meets his old friends before they encounter and try to defeat the Kraken, of all things. It's an atmospheric adventure and, had it been the sole focus of the film, it could have made this sequel worth it. Unfortunately, this plot thread is soon completely resolved and two entirely new plots then follow.
The second story involves a hidden city in Arizona with mysterious origins, coyote spirits and a crooked shop owner who wants to profit from the city's secrets. It's an interesting idea and it would have made a decent episode of the animated series but it has a completely different setting and tone to the first third of the film so it doesn't exactly help make the whole thing flow organically at all.
The final part of the film is also quite different as it follows a man, one of Whitmore's (John Mahoney) old competitors, who believes himself to be the Norse god Odin and wants to bring about Ragnarok, the end of the world, using Atlantean crystals. This is a slightly more complex story than the first two and it could have also easily been the subject of an entire movie but, again, it doesn't really gel with the rest of this feature so it makes for an awkward conclusion overall.
There is alas no consistency to this film and that's a shame because, looking at each of its mini stories individually, there was a promising animated series there. If you love the original film and you go into this one expecting three back-to-back TV episodes rather than a proper movie sequel then you might have some fun with it.
Not a must, though.