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Luc Besson takes us under the ocean to spend some time with the sea life. Armed with only a camera and some funky beats, we follow around dolphins, turtles and sea snakes (among many other creatures) in a world totally unlike our own.

Atlantis is a tough one to review, mainly due to the fact it has no story, no dialogue (outside of an opening voiceover and some awful song lyrics). What makes things even more difficult is this isn’t a documentary either, it’s merely following around sea life in the wide open ocean and watching them play, eat, fight and even get a little jiggy.
Having said that, there are some truly wonderful sights on offer here. Some of the segments included, which have titles like ‘The Game’, ‘The Love’ and ‘The Hate’ having some very intimate moments with the aquatic animals. Dolphins seem impossibly close to the camera as they glide in their pods showing off for us, sharks seem to snarl as they’re filmed and there’s a real sense of interaction with the world that Besson is submerged in, rather than the point and film approach to many of the other titles in this field.

Playing out like an almost live action Fantasia in places, the segments vary in enjoyment and can often come down to the less than enjoyable musical choices. Often the tracks chosen can just seem awkward in their placing and even when they do fit the scene it’s not long before something about it slips into playful beats or bizarre lyrical compositions that takes your attention off of the undersea creatures, which is a shame and adds a lot to the movie running out of steam long before its short seventy nine minute runtime is over.


Atlantis still feels exactly like a movie made in the early nineties, despite its pretty new HD transfer. Film grain is slight and the glowing light coming from the sun above the ocean's surface sparkles nicely, but somehow the image still feels quite dull and muted in places.

The ocean blues are solid and come in many different tones with black levels working quite well in the brightly lit scenes, but as soon as we go a little deeper in the sea the blacks get a little hazy and grain really becomes more of an issue making the many variations of ocean bed plant life, which is bathed in artificial light, the only impressive part of the shots.
Detail levels for the markings and textures of the creatures hold up pretty well with certain elements looking close to 3D in their appearance such as the stripy sea snake which positively pops out of the screen), but when held up against any modern HD nature show or even a big screen documentary Atlantis seems painfully dated even if many shots can look pretty breathtaking.


2.0 PCM is probably all Atlantis requires and God knows how offensive the soundtrack would have been in 5.1— shudder. Generally it’s a strong track, with a nice bass level and feels nicely spread across the speakers. The odd atmospheric/sound effects that Besson throws in (either car horns, crowd noise or school halls) can sound quite good and effective and the natural sounds of the ocean life works wonders (just a shame it’s drowned out with the beats too often).


Just a trailer, which has Besson in a helicopter above the sea, then being lowered down with his camera and the title of the movie appearing on screen. It’s actually pretty cool, for what the movie actually is.



Being left slightly disappointed with a total lack of blue whale (I mean, who does an oceanic movie without a blue whale?) I found Atlantis to be a bit of fun that ran out of charm a little short of its runtime. I’m on the fence about whether it needed narration or a few more details to make it more effective, but generally I liked what Besson was going for even if his finale was totally lost on me.
The disc itself is all but bare bones and doesn’t really shine in regards to its HD upgrade, so all in all, this may end up being one for the Besson completists out there as opposed to a casual purchase.

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.