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Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Description: Atlantis is waiting the voice whispers. A magical world beneath the sea. A legend that has fascinated since ancient times.

In their latest animated movie, Disney takes on the tale of Atlantis with a sort of H.G. Wellsish twist. It's 1914. WWI is still on the horizon and the world is full of steam powered hope, exploration and aggression. Milo, a young scholar, raised on tales of Atlantis by his grandfather receives funding and expedition crew from a mysterious benefactor.

And the story is off. Peopled by a cast of adventurers and explorers, Atlantis is fast paced and exciting. The pace never lets up, as characters journey under the ocean, the earth, and into the heart of a secret lost world.  With nods to 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Land that Time Forgot and The Journey to the Center of the Earth, Atlantis makes great use of the steam
era of exploration. 

The characters are engaging and the voice talent is exceptionally well chosen. I won't spoil it by saying who was who. However, everyone did a great job filling their characters with life. By the end of movie, I was left wanting to hear more about the adventures of this hearty band of explorers. 

Atlantis itself is well drawn, with interesting and rich backgrounds. The art style is a little different than Disney's standard, but I liked it. It suited the story being told.

At a PG rating, the movie is a little racier than say The Duck Adventures, but as a straight forward adventure lacks some of the emotional punch of say, Bambi.

A good fun installment from the Mouse.

Moulin Rouge

Description: Musical. A visual barrage for the senses. Sound, music, fury, emotion. Its all about Truth, Beauty and above all Love. Oh, wait the plot. Hmmm...young writer goes to Paris in 1899 and falls in love with a courtesan. Singing and Dancing ensue. He has a rival for her affections, if not love. She has consumption. More sumptuous singing. You get the picture.

This is a perfect modern musical. There is virtually no dialog and all of the songs beautifully advance the plot. 

Baz Lurhman has chosen modern songs and put them into a period context. Of course, a courtesan would sing "Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend". Of course it would segue into "Material Girl." Of course the stage door Johnny's coming in for the show would sing "Here we are now, Entertain Us." It's hard to pick particular songs that I liked, because I liked them all. But I will admit that I will never be able to hear "Like a Virgin" in quite the same way. Hmmm...strange visual. And for that matter, "The Sound of Music" as sung by the faery that lives in Absinthe (Absinthe was the 1800's LSD). 

Anyway, everyone's singing was incredible. Ewan McGregor has a seductively rich voice and Nicole Kidman is stunning. The supporting cast do a great job as well.

The romance is sweet and lush. It's Rent. It's La Boheme. It's, well it's Moulin Rouge.

The visuals are utterly stunning. The richness of detail. The decadence that is Bohemian Paris in 1899, the Summer of Love. The juxtaposition of ideas and song. The darkened stage for the Roxanne tango number. Spare and bare. Contrasting to the lushly rich room of seduction in the Gothic tower.

In the world of musicals, where people sing to express emotions, where the Bohemian ethic of Truth, Beauty and above all Love are the only rules, where characters dance on clouds, this is a perfect creation. A movie made of spun sugar into a jewel.

Tomb Raider

Description: Indiana Jones-like babe, Lara Croft, zooms around the world looking for ancient artifacts based on clues for her dad in order to save the world from the evil Illuminati.

This was quite a fun, kick ass movie. Angelina Jolie does a great job of bringing the video game character to life. She not only runs around with dual handguns strapped to her thighs finding lost tombs and relics, she has a full personality and history. She is still grieving for the father she lost as a child. She refuses to wear a dress and live up to her title, Lady Croft, much to the dismay of her very proper butler. I would be quite happy to see many more Tomb Raider movies with her as the star.

The plot is pretty basic, but that's not a crime. Lara discovers a mystical clock left to her by her father. When the bad guys come after it, she's pulled into a globetrotting race to find all the pieces to the puzzle before the looming astronomical alignment. The head villain is very slick and he and Lara have a nice hate vibe going. The bad guys also hire a rival tomb raider that Lara has a history with although that's never fully explored. I'm hoping they'll dig into it in the next movie.

The visuals are fast paced and very cool. Plus, guys and girls get equal time with a shower scene for Lara and one for her rival raider - he's quite yummy.

So if you're in the mood for a fun frolic, lots of noise and action, this is the movie for you.

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