‘Atlantis’ Not Lost and Forgotten Yet


Directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise and producer Don Hahn are the team responsible for the 1991 Disney animated film “Beauty and the Beast,” which made history when it became the first animated film nominated for a best picture Oscar.

Their latest creation, “Atlantis: The Lost Empire,” is a disappointment. This action-adventure about an underwater exploration to find the lost city of Atlantis is really geared more for boys than for families. There are no cute animal sidekicks or Broadway-style musical numbers.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Feb. 20, 2002 FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Wednesday February 20, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 2 inches; 56 words Type of Material: Correction
Format of Disney film--In the home video column in the Jan. 31 issue of Calendar Weekend, the animated film, “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” was incorrectly called Disney’s first CinemaScope production since “Sleeping Beauty” in 1959. The two films actually were only released to theaters in the CinemaScope format. “Sleeping Beauty” was filmed in Technirama and “Atlantis” was created digitally.

Nevertheless, the two-disc collector’s DVD ($40) is vastly entertaining and informative. The first disc includes a wide-screen edition of the film--”Atlantis” was the first Disney cartoon shot in CinemaScope since 1959’s “Sleeping Beauty”--and a “Disneypedia,” which offers fun and interesting facts about Atlantis geared to the kiddies and a crash course in how to speak Atlantean.


Besides interesting audio commentary with Hahn, Trousdale and Wise, the disc also includes visual commentary that has the three going behind the scenes during key moments in the film. Highlights of the visual commentary include early characters and story lines that were later discarded, such as a rat cohort for Milo Thatch (Michael J. Fox), the eager linguist who leads the expedition to Atlantis.

The second disc features two hours of extras on how the story was created; the development of the character designs, art direction, music and sound; the publicity for the film; how the voice actors were chosen for the project; and deleted scenes, including an exciting prologue.

Disney is also offering “Atlantis” in a standard DVD ($30), which features the commentary, the deleted prologue, the Disneypedia and the course on Atlantean.


After directing more dramatic fare such as “Ghost,” Jerry Zucker returned to the slapstick comedy genre last year with the wacky “Rat Race,” starring such farceurs as Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Breckin Meyer and Kathy Najimy. They’re involved in a “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”-like race to collect $2 million.

The DVD ($30) features the wide-screen version of the film, the trailer, several outtakes, a funny gag reel, deleted scenes--Zucker made a wise move when he decided to cut them--an average behind-the-scenes featurette and an interview with Zucker and writer Andy Breckman. The best extra on the disc finds Zucker and Breckman calling up each member of the cast and talking to them about the film.


Black History Month kicks off this week with several new DVDs.

Though it gets a bit too reverential in tone, the documentary “Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World” (Universal, $15 for VHS; $20 for DVD) is a nifty, thorough look at the life and legend of the famous boxer. The documentary is filled with archival fight footage, photos and interviews with Ali, including his first appearance on a local TV show, his first publicity photo and rare footage of the champ at home with his family. Also included are interviews with Billy Crystal, James Earl Jones, Lennox Lewis, Tom Johns, Richard Harris, Billy Connelly, his daughter Hana and ex-wife Veronica. The DVD features a photo gallery, a music video, a chronology of his fights and a featurette.


Paramount is celebrating Black History Month with the release of five Eddie Murphy flicks on DVD ($25 each): the three “Beverly Hills Cop” movies, “Vampire in Brooklyn” and “Harlem Nights.” The best of the lot is 1984’s “Beverly Hills Cop,” which is one of Murphy’s biggest hits. He plays Axel Foley, a maverick Detroit policeman who travels west to track down the killer of his best friend. The cast also sports Judge Reinhold, John Ashton and, in a scene-stealing performance, Bronson Pinchot.

The DVD is an enjoyable viewing experience, thanks to a retrospective documentary on the making of the film that includes interviews with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, screenwriter Daniel Petrie Jr., Reinhold and director Martin Brest. Murphy’s involvement, though, is limited to a brief clip from a recent interview.

There are also featurettes on the film’s casting, locations and the music. Rounding out the disc are a photo gallery, a theatrical trailer and commentary by Brest (“Scent of a Woman”). One interesting note: Sylvester Stallone originally was set to play Axel Foley.

Also on tap for Black History Month is the 1954 musical “Carmen Jones” (Fox, $20), Oscar Hammerstein II’s reworking of the Bizet opera with an African American cast. Dorothy Dandridge became the first African American woman to be nominated for a best actress Oscar for her role as a femme fatale who seduces a soldier (Harry Belafonte). The DVD features a lovely new wide-screen transfer of the film and the original trailer.


Saturday is Groundhog Day, when the famous Punxsutawney Phil will come out of his home in Punxsutawney, Pa., to predict how much longer winter will last. Accordingly, Columbia TriStar has just released a special edition of the rollicking 1993 comedy hit “Groundhog Day” ($25), starring Bill Murray in one of his best performances as a cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman assigned to cover the event. When he finds himself stuck overnight in Punxsutawney due to a blizzard, he wakes up the next morning and discovers that it is Groundhog Day again. Andie MacDowell plays Murray’s cheerful producer.

The digital edition includes a retrospective documentary on the making of the film, “The Weight of Time,” which features interviews with director Harold Ramis, MacDowell and co-star Stephen Tobolowsky and behind-the-scenes clips of Murray cracking wise on the set.


There is also a wide-screen version of the film, talent files, production notes, trailers and amusing commentary from Ramis.

The film, Ramis reports, was not shot in Punxsutawney, but in Woodstock, Ill., because it was more visually appealing with its town square.


Neither critics nor audiences embraced “The 6th Day,” the 2000 Arnold Schwarzenegger futurist thriller about an evil corporation that illegally duplicates human beings. But Columbia TriStar has just released a two-disc “special edition” ($25) anyway, and it isn’t very special. There isn’t commentary from Schwarzenegger or director Roger Spottiswoode; only composer Trevor Rabin is on hand to discuss his work on the isolated music track. The second disc includes nine passable behind-the-scenes featurettes, a documentary on the production that aired on Showtime, storyboard-to-film comparisons, trailers and talent files.