Atlantis: The Lost Empire

James Newton Howard

" Wonderful animation scoring for a lost city "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

Music fans were still under the magic spell of wizard James Newton Howard's latest Disney score Dinosaur when the next one was already waiting around the corner. The successful soundtrack that featured no songs and a dazzling score became one of the best efforts of 2000, Atlantis: The Lost Empire surely wasn't going to be the exception in 2001.

The trailer gave us an advantage and it contained portions of Howard's music, using some of the best moments of the score. And truthfully, the score is another high quality delivery from James Newton Howard all right. The soundtrack starts with the song "Where the Dream Takes You". This entry is the next commercial attraction that follows the recent paths of The Mummy Returns and Pearl Harbor, merely for attracting a wider interest. And again it fails to even stir up the attention because I find it to be a very ordinary song.

After that we hear the powerful entrance of Howard's intentions. In "The Submarine" you stumble already on the biggest performance of the main theme. It literally explodes onto the disc in almost Gothic proportions. Meaning this is truly a wonderful start to be exact. Sadly, what follows in about 7 tracks after that is all embraced in an animated pace and mood, to let you remember that this is still an animated movie in the first place.

Of course nothing new because Howard approached this scene before with Space Jam, making it similar if a bit more mature in the outcome. Of course animation can also become big, and "The Leviathan" is a bold piece combining the moments of Space Jam and Waterworld into one fitting design.

And then we arrive at the crossroad of the soundtrack. Those that want more Mickey Mouse scoring will take the wrong direction, while others will experience the true majesty of a lost city, the mystical and awe inspiring beauty of Atlantis. "Milo meets Kida" offers Dinosaur's African style and the theme for Atlantis itself. This especially sounds a lot like Vertical Limit when you come to think of it. Plus here we also start to hear the main power of Atlantis, namely the choral performances by The Metro Voices Choir. Almost each track has a short or long performance, making each one magnificent and truly inspiring. "The City of Atlantis" offers the beauty of the city based on Waterworld's approach and "The Crystal Chamber" represents the first part of the trailer's accompanying score. This track has a mystical quality that makes it divvying to listen to.

The next two tracks are equally stunning and my favorite is "Just Do It". The first minute is non stop action but the next two minutes after that offer sublime choral music. It is performed with beauty and surely is one of the most sensational film music moments of James Newton Howard's year. If "Atlantis" would have been a tad longer it could have been another highlight, but you will be dazzled with the end result nonetheless.

When I heard Atlantis: The Lost Empire for the first time I was simply stunned. But after repeated listens I started to compare it with Dinosaur, and I came to the conclusion that Dinosaur was better on long term. Because the first part of Atlantis still bothers the listening experience a bit. But, do not be confused about what you're reading here because Atlantis still offers some of the best music of 2001. Meaning on the whole, Atlantis is nothing short of spectacular during those moments, showing once again why James Newton Howard is such a beloved composer. It isn't because he can score a lot of genres, it's because he excels in them more than ever.


1. When the Dream Takes You: Mya (3.58)
2. The Submarine (3.18) Excellent track
3. Milo's Turned Down (1.48)
4. Atlantis is Waiting (2.41)
5. The Leviathan (3.24)
6. Bedding Down (2.32)
7. The Journey (3.21)
8. Fireflies (2.11)
9. Milo Meets Kida (1.46)
10. The City of Atlantis (2.48) Excellent track
11. Milo and Kida's Questions (2.59)
12. Touring the City (2.51)
13. The Secret Swim (2.43)
14. The Crystal Chamber (3.45) Excellent track
15. The King Dies / Going after Rourke (5.11) Excellent track
16. Just Do It (3.17) Excellent track
17. Kida Returns (3.09)
18. Atlantis (1.59)

Total Length: 54.06
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 29 votes - average 4.31/5)

Released by

Walt Disney Records 60713-7 (regular release 2001)

Conducted by

Pete Anthony

Orchestrations by

Jeff Atmajian, Brad Dechter, Pete Anthony, Frank Bennett, John Kull & James Newton Howard

Performed by

The Metro Voices