Atlantis, The Lost Continent (1961)

Rating: *
Review Date: 8/7/16
Director: George Pal
Cast: Sal Ponti (Anthony Hall), Joyce Taylor, John Dall, Edward Platt, Paul Frees

Apart from some impressive visual effects at the end of the movie, "Atlantis, The Lost Continent" is a serious chore to sit through. A Greek fisherman named Demetrios (Sal Ponti) rescues an Atlantean princess (Joyce Taylor) who is adrift at sea. Being young and stupid, he falls in love with the unpleasant and contemptuous princess, and agrees to return her to Atlantis (even though he doesn't believe it exists). With her safe return, the Atlantean king shows his gratitude by enslaving Demetrios and forcing him to mine for precious crystals. Aided by a sympathetic high priest (Edward Platt), Demetrios organizes the slaves to revolt, which coincides with the eruption of a mighty volcano that sends the continent to its doom.

I normally enjoy fantasy adventure films like this and George Pal's work is usually quite satisfying, but "Atlantis" fails to entertain. None of the characters are likable, and the heavy-handed religious themes leave a bad taste. The acting isn't particularly memorable, but it's worth mentioning that in addition to narrating the film, Paul Frees dubs at least three supporting characters. Frees is a superb voice actor with a very distinctive sound, but it becomes laughable when you hear so many characters speaking with the same voice.

As a technologically superior culture, the Atlanteans have perverted science and depleted their natural resources, which inevitably leads to paranoia, elitism, racism, and war. And men with cow heads. For whatever reasons, there's a mad scientist who enjoys turning slaves into half-beasts, which serves no purpose other than to support the film's blatant "god is good, science is bad" agenda. It's a fairly decent looking film, with elaborate sets, outlandish costuming, good makeup effects, and impressive miniature work. The destruction of Atlantis is especially enjoyable, although the large scale scenes of chaos and destruction were obviously lifted from other films, like "Quo Vadis" (1951). Ultimately, it's not a terrible film, but it ends up being a tedious and overly preachy waste of time.