Don't write off "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" as Disney's attempt to make an epic adventure tale. Instead, think of it as a modern-day telling of a story that could have easily been written in the late 1800's or early 1900's. It reminded me a lot of the dime-store novels about cowboys and fantastic voyages into outer space. It also reminded me of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." It plays out exactly like those old sci-fi movies from the 50's and 60's. The story is somewhat formulaic: Whiz takes up where Gramps left off on an adventure to find a lost civilization. Along the way, he escapes dangers and perils with the odds unusually stacked against him. So-called allies are enemies, etc.(you get the idea).
There is nothing terribly amazing about this movie(excepting the animation, which I thought was rather lovely). There is no great moral issue pressed upon you as in most other Disney flicks of this stature. The characters won't stick in your mind and there isn't a breathtaking musical score. What there is, however, is a rather intelligently written(though formulaic) script with a few fun lines and a really fun story. If you like movies like "The Rocketeer" and the Indiana Jones trilogy, you'll find this movie rather good to watch. If you don't like adventure flicks, keep away.
This movie will not appeal to the youngsters in your house. My two-year old enjoyed some of the brighter scenes in this movie, but it didn't hold her attention to the degree of "Lion King" or "Alice in Wonderland." Older children(between 9 and 14) will probably like this movie. I rather enjoyed it myself.
It's a fun, intelligent film that won't surprise you in any way, but will leave you satisfied.