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Atlantis: Milo's Return(2003)
The fearless explorers from Disney's hit animated movie, Atlantis - The Lost Empire, are back. During his initial expedition, Milo Thatch and company located the famous underwater city and rescued the mysterious kingdom and all it's people. Now, Milo, Kida and their team gear up for more action when trouble surfaces above water, but they discover mystifying powers at work. From the dusty deserts of the Southwest to the icy heights of the Nordic mountains, the team's newest quest sets them against gigantic sea monsters, spectacular spirits and powerful legends. In the midst of their excursion, Kida discovers the awesome power of her city's enchanted crystals and, ultimately, must decide whether it is wiser to hide the Heart of Atlantis or share it's light with the rest of the world. Hold your breath and get ready to dive into a world of excitement with the all new adventures of Atlantis.
For more about Atlantis: Milo's Return and the Atlantis: Milo's Return Blu-ray release, see Atlantis: Milo's Return Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on May 31, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: James Arnold Taylor, Cree Summer, John Mahoney, Jacqueline Obradors, Don Novello, Corey Burton
Directors: Victor Cook, Toby Shelton, Tad Stones
» See full cast & crew
Atlantis: Milo's Return Blu-ray Review
"No, you throw it to them when they're drowning..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, May 31, 2013
Disney is well aware of the appeal and reach of its catalog, down to the best and worst films in its canon. Titles like Cinderella and Peter Pan arrive separately and to great fanfare, while other titles shuffle onto shelves en masse, sans the red-carpet treatment afforded their Platinum and Diamond Edition brethren. In August 2012, it was The Aristocats, The Rescuers, The Rescuers Down Under, Pocahontas, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, The Tigger Movie and Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure, all released on the same day. Earlier this year, in March, it was The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, Mulan, Mulan II, Brother Bear and Brother Bear 2. And now animation fans can add six more movies to their Blu-ray collection with Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Atlantis 2: Milo's Return, Lilo & Stitch, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, The Emperor's New Groove and Kronk's New Groove.
But something is amiss this go around. Once again, the original films and their direct-to-video sequels are paired on single BD-50 discs. This time, though, only Atlantis and Milo's Return include special features on the Blu-ray disc itself. Extras for Lilo & Stitch and The Emperor's New Groove (and their sequels) are relegated to the bonus DVD copies in each 2-Movie set. Moreover, video and audio are vastly improved, but the transfers suffer from a number of (admittedly minor) issues. Combined with the displaced extras, it's hard to miss Disney's diminishing standards. Packing a 2-Movie Collection on a single disc is becoming more and more important to the studio; more important than delivering the fullest, most intuitive experience.
And the films? The theatrically released features are as divisive as ever. Some will find them decidedly desperate and unimaginative; a pale imitation of the Disney Renaissance greats. Others, like myself, will find a few flawed but fun, and one -- Lilo & Stitch -- a bonafide classic, seeing the trio as a not-so-distant spiritual extension to those same Renaissance classics. The direct-to-video sequels, though, aren't nearly as polished or entertaining on the whole, making the 2-Movie Collections hit or miss pairings primed to placate longtime fans and underwhelm the unconverted.
Brace for impact. Atlantis: Milo's Return isn't just one of the worst direct-to-video Disney sequels to date, it isn't even really a sequel, and certainly isn't any good. Conceived as part of Team Atlantis, an abandoned television series that fortunately never came to pass, the "sequel" is actually three extended shorts that feel suspiciously like lost episodes of Scooby-Doo. And not classic Doo either. The animation is dreadfully mediocre, the voice acting is phoned in, the script is 20,000 leagues beneath average, and almost nothing warrants applause. (Perhaps the return of original voice actors Summer, Mahoney, Novello, Morris, Burton and Stanley, but little else.) It's no wonder Michael J. Fox declined to return, and no wonder Team Atlantis sank to the bottom of development hell. Milo's Return is a glorified special feature at best, an unwelcome intruder into the kingdom of Atlantis at its worst.
Glutton for punishment? Perhaps a quick overview of the stories will convince you to save yourself the time and misery. In the first part of the piecemeal sequel, Queen Kida (Summer) and her new husband Milo (James Arnold Taylor), now the King of Atlantis, reunite with their old friends to battle a Kraken... which someone has unleashed... but not Liam Neeson, because that joke would be too easy. With that problem solved, it's on to pseudo-episode two. Next, those meddling Atlantean kids travel to Arizona to investigate an ancient site haunted by g-g-g-ghosts! Zoinks. Finally, Milo and company have to face Odin himself (W. Morgan Sheppard), or rather Erik Hellstrom, a Whitmore nemesis who gets his hands on a powerful spear that may have come from Atlantis. Three mysteries, three baddies, three supernatural conundrums, each solved in rapid succession. Still curious? Have at. Just don't say I didn't warn you...
Atlantis: Milo's Return Blu-ray, Video Quality
It's hard to tell where the sequel's horrid TV animation stops and its 1080p/AVC-encoded monstrosity begins, but one thing is abundantly clear: the Blu-ray presentation looks dismally similar to a DVD, so much so that I found myself laughing out loud in disbelief. The entire image is soft, aliasing is out in force, artifacting and color banding abound, animation mistakes and CG glitchiness leads to numerous oddities, and next to nothing impresses. It does represent a slight uptick from its DVD counterpart; the resolution and bitrate alone ensure some measure of improvement. But not much, and not enough to elicit anything other than criticism. Granted, I doubt Disney could do much to polish this one. I would have made the decision to relegate the sequel to a DVD and a DVD alone, though, and I don't think it would have bothered anyone. But who knows? If you're a Milo's Return apologist, by all means take to the forum and say your peace. As for me, I'm going to go back to pretending it doesn't exist.
Atlantis: Milo's Return Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track isn't quite as bad, subjectively or objectively. But it isn't remarkable in the least either. Dialogue is clear, so there's that. Low-end support lags, rear speaker activity leaves something to be desired, and the soundfield is unsurprisingly two-dimensional. But the lossless mix is a reasonably competent presentation of the sequel's made-for-TV (then abandoned) sound design, and the fact that it's available in lossless form at all is a miracle. There aren't any glaring technical issues per se, just be ready to forget you're listening to a DTS-HD MA track. I'm not sure anyone would be able to tell the difference between it and a comparable Dolby Digital mix without consulting the on-screen tech specs.
Atlantis: Milo's Return Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The 2-Movie Collection release of Atlantis: The Lost Empire / Atlantis: Milo's Return is a 3-disc set. However, in what has now become Disney's practice, the feature films are housed on a single BD-50, with two standard DVDs -- one for each movie -- rounding out the set. It's far from perfect; some will deem it convenient, others an irritation.
Atlantis: Milo's Return Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I've been hard enough on Milo's Return so I won't rehash old grievances. Suffice it to say, the sequel is beyond bad, its video transfer leaves a lot to be desired, its DTS-HD Master Audio track is decent but unremarkable, and its supplemental package is a near-barebones affair... which is probably for th best. I'd say skip this one, but if you want Atlantis, you're stuck with Milo's Return.
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