Writes Roger Ebert:
Disney's "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" is an animated adventure movie with a lot of gusto and a wowser of a climax. It's an experiment for the studio. Leaving behind the song-and-dance numbers and the cute sidekicks, Disney seems to be testing the visual and story style of anime--those action-jammed animated Japanese movies that occupy shelves in every video store, meaning someone must be renting them.
The movie is set in 1914, a favorite period for stories like this, because technology was fairly advanced while people could still believe that a sunken continent or lost world or two might have gone overlooked. Just as the "Jurassic Park" movies owe something (a lot, actually) to Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World," so does "Atlantis" spring from the old Edgar Rice Burroughs novels about a world in the center of the earth. (There is also discussion on the Web about how it springs even more directly from a 1989 Japanese anime named "Nadia: the Secret of Blue Water.") All stories like this require a rich, reclusive billionaire to finance an expedition to the lost corners of the earth, and "Atlantis" has Preston Whitmore (voice of John Mahoney), who lives Citizen Kane-style behind vast iron gates in a mysterious citadel and puts together a team to go to the bottom of the sea.