They're two of Disney's most underrated animated features, they're sci-fi epics that split the fandom down the middle, they make us want to either soar to the stars or submerge to a sunken city. Of course, we're talking about Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet. One is an original steampunk adventure, the other is a retro-futurism reimagining. But which one is better?
That is the question we plan to answer today. After viewing both films, we've compiled a list of elements they both share to find out who outdoes who. Will it be Milo Thatch and the city of Atlantis, or Jim Hawkins and Flint's Trove? Read on and find out.
10 Best Origins: Tie
This was kind of a hard decision because while Treasure Planet is inspired by one of the greatest works of fiction in existence, the story of Atlantis doesn't just have one definite source. At the end of the day, it all comes down to a matter of taste. Do you want something realistic or mythological?
As far as being accurate to the source material, Atlantis references its inspiration more. But Treasure Planet gives new life to a well-known favorite story. It all boils down to how much change is palpable to the audience. In the end, we really just can't decide.
9 Best Story: Tie
Where we couldn't decide on the last point because the two are just two different, we tie them up again on this one because they're remarkably similar. Think about it, both narratives are focused on expeditions in large ships with mutinous crews to find a lost treasure. The main difference is the size of the prize.
For the crew of Atlantis, it's the Heart of Atlantis. For Silver and his pack of space-pirates, it's the Loot of a Thousand Worlds. The biggest wedge between the two of them is how they accomplish the feat, but that's why we have this list.
8 Best Style: Atlantis
We can already feel some of you turning on us now, but hear us out. The only reason Atlantis gets the point is because it remains the most consistent. We love the fusion of styles that make the movie so distinct, however, Treasure Planet has the habit of getting things a little too one-sided in its designs.
Why have electric/solar technology in a world that still uses gas lamps and coal stoves? It's a nitpick, maybe, but one we couldn't overlook. The point goes to Atlantis for sticking with probable technology for the 1914-inspired world it calls home.
7 Best World: Treasure Planet
Where Atlantis gives us one of the most beautiful and somewhat alien continents we've ever seen, Treasure Planet gives us an entire universe to enjoy. If you want to talk about alien worlds, there are few as diverse or as interesting as the Montressor Space Port, not to mention the various races that make up the crew of the Legacy.
Treasure Planet takes the spot because it simply just offers more. Compare a continent to a whole universe of weird and wonderful creatures and characters and which would you choose? Point to Treasure Planet for giving us more to work with.
6 Best Performances: Atlantis
Atlantis's vocal performances can be summed up in one word, infectious. From Michael J Fox as the excitable Milo Thatch to Cree Summer as the enchanting Kida, the talent behind these animated characters is rock solid. Not that we're knocking Treasure Planet's cast at all, but Atlantis's cast is simply sturdier.
The drawback of Treasure Planet's performances is that some of the characters feel like a celebrity behind a microphone instead of an actual character, mostly due to Joseph Gordon Levitt's Jim Hawkins and Martin Short's B.E.N. In Atlantis, however, the performances feel less like actors and more like the eccentric characters that bring the story to life.
5 Best Heroes: Atlantis
Both expedition teams have some colorful characters and memorable heroes, but if it's down to a one on one match, the winner is old Milo Thatch. Jim Hawkins definitely has a lot going for him, but we gotta go with brains over roguish attitude. The reason? Milo's geeky character is more grounded than Jim's futuristic bad boy persona.
Jim is a character we've seen over and over again, a black-jacket-wearing troublemaker with daddy issues and a heart of gold. Milo, on the other hand, isn't just your typical nerd, he's a professional in his field. He wants to go on this expedition for science, not for glory. He's solid, original, and takes the point.
4 Best Villains: Treasure Planet
Now how do you do a Treasure Island retelling without a swarthy crew of swashbucklers to set sail with? Where the original seized the ship with cutlasses in their teeth, Disney's sci-fi reimagining trades in the flintlock pistols for laser blasters and cybernetic implants. They'd certainly cream Atlantis's gang of graverobbers and looters.
Don't get us wrong, Commander Rourke and his army of goons definitely put up a fight against Milo and his friends, but they're just not as memorable as Silver, Scroop, and the various alien pirates that take over the Legacy. It's a pirate's life for us, we're afraid.
3 Best Side Characters: Atlantis
Although we do have a special place in our hearts for Captain Amelia and Doctor Doppler, the crew of the Ulysses just has more to offer. From Mr. Whittmore to Moliere, the supporting cast of Atlantis definitely has more personalities and quirky characters to pick from. It's definitely both quality and quantity in this case.
Aside from the previously mentioned Treasure Planet characters, how many can you recognize by name? A mole-like dude with a giant drill, easily Moliere. Brooklyn Italian guy with an impressive mustache and interest in dynamite, obviously Vinnie. We could go on and on, but we think the point is made.
2 Best Humor: Treasure Planet
Both movies have their own brand of humor, don't get us wrong. But as far as which has more ha-ha humorous moments, it's treasure planet, no doubt about it. Atlantis has its moments, but its focus is more on the mystical steampunk-infused expedition to the city of Atlantis than making us laugh.
This movie has all the slapstick, one-liners, and visual humor we've come to expect from a typical Disney romp. But it's where some of the lines come from that surprises us. Captain Amelia, though tight-laced and professional has some of the best lines in the film. And do we even need to mention the farting alien?
1 Winner: Atlantis (By One)
This was a really close match and try as we might, we just couldn't make it a tie game. As much as we adore Treasure Planet for its fusion of styles, its loveable alien characters, and it's sci-fi reimagining of a classic pirate's tale, we're looking at the overall movie. Atlantis takes the crown.
What can we say but we love the traditional Disney sketchbook style of animation, the steampunk elements that are both fantastic and probable even for 1914, and the mix of sci-fi and fantasy themes? It's definitely our favorite underrated Disney gem.