Tuesday, August 21, 2012

REVIEW: Warlords of Atlantis

Warlords of Atlantis
Director: Kevin Connor
Year 1978
Warlords of Atlantis is a fun little fantasy flick that features Doug McClure doing what Doug McClure does best, and that’s fighting giant monsters while exploring wild and untamed new worlds. Centered on a lost civilization that lies underneath the Atlantic Ocean, the film delves right in to the madness and chaos that comes with such savage territory, showcasing a wild array of terrifying creatures that the filmmakers thrill in throwing at the audience in frequent succession. For a fun filled fantasy romp, look no further than this obscure entry because Warlords of Atlantis is an interesting journey into the uncharted bowels of planet Earth.
The film follows an exploration team lead by Charles Aitken and Greg Collinson, as they attempt to discover the lost city of Atlantis. After recovering a lost artifact from the ancient culture in the form of a gigantic statue, the team is double-crossed by their opportunistic crew whose lust for treasure sparks a mutinous turn of events. To make matters worse, at the same instance of the mutiny, their ship is simultaneously attacked by a sea monster, plunging all onboard into the ocean depths where they are spit out in an underground cave that leads opens up to reveal an entire other world filled with danger and adventure. Lost in an unknown world and greeted by a controlling alien race that thirsts for world domination, the crew must band together in order to thwart their plans while at the same time figure a way out of this crazy mixed up world and back to the surface. If anyone can do it Doug McClure can!

Doug McClure plays the role of Greg Collinson, the creator of the underwater device that allows them to traverse the depths of the Atlantic Ocean in search of any remnants of the lost civilization of Atlantis. While initially not having much to do with the exploratory crew of the expedition, other than being the one to pilot the underwater capsule, things change drastically once the shit hits the fan and Greg is thrust into the role of leader as they embark across this strange new world. McClure, as usual, handles the material with ease as he gives another outstanding and entertaining performance along the lines of his other fantasy entries like The Land That Time Forgot, At the Earth’s Core, and The People That Time Forgot. With Warlords of Atlantis being his last foray into the fantasy/adventure genre, McClure makes good use of his experience as he gives a great deal of respectability to the film while unleashing his unabashed wit and energetic charm.
As for the rest of the players of the piece, Peter Gilmore takes on the role of Charles Aitken a scholarly man with a penchant for exploring new cultures, Lea Brodie plays Delphine a beautiful slave who has lived most of her life under servitude, John Ratzenberger of Cheers fame plays the role of Fenn the bastard sailor who only thinks of himself, and Michael Gothard and Cyd Charisse who take on the roles of Atmir and Atsil, two aliens that want nothing more than to rule the human race with an iron fist. Each individual role in this film is given equal opportunities to thrive, but none take it as far as Peter Gilmore with his portrayal of Charles Aitken. As an intelligent man and leader of the expedition, the alien’s believe that he is evolved enough to be able to join their cause of world domination, so they try to enlist Charles into their ranks. It’s through this character and his interactions with the alien race that we get to see the more privileged side of their society. It’s an interesting view into their world, and the character of Charles Aitken is the construct in which allows us to peek into their way of life, so Gilmore brings a whole other layer to the proceedings that really end up being quite captivating and compelling to see play out.

As for the general look of the underground world of Atlantis, the production gravitates to epic proportions with diverse displays of grandeur, while accomplishing this larger than life feat in the simplest of ways. We’re privy to expansive cavernous halls, foreboding beast infested swamps, grand scaled fortresses, and extravagant palace chambers filled with beautiful people and decadent fountains, all through traditional filmmaking techniques like matte paintings and oversized sets which give the film a tangible feel. There’s a honed stylistic presentation to all of the different locations of the movie, allowing for us to familiarize ourselves with the culture that built these uncharted wonders while giving the entire look of the film a continuous visual appearance that tells the history of its people through its imaginative imagery. If there’s one thing to be said for the overall look of the movie and the world that it has created, it would be that it is genuine in its portrayal of a lost and savage civilization.
The same can be said for the film’s robust and creatively imagined creatures. Though there isn’t a great deal of variety between the monstrosities that attempt to devour our poor cast of adventurers, the few that do appear on screen make a lasting impression. From a gigantic oversized octopus, to a herd of large rock-like four legged monsters, to a frighteningly viscous man-eating swamp creature, to the ridiculous concept of flying ravenous fish, the film has its fair share of nightmares to fling at our main players. What’s really great about all of these creations is that they are all done in practical ways through the use of puppetry and other similar techniques, making the movie dated, yet authentic to the world the filmmakers have set up. Unlike modern computer generated movie monsters, these beasts have a sense of weight to them and they actually give the impression that they share the same plain that their real life actors do, even though they are performing in front of projections. All in all, the effects work might be crude by today’s standards, but the overall end result is as practical and genuine as needs be for a fun film such as this one.

Warlords of Atlantis is an enjoyable fantasy/adventure outing that captures that nostalgic magic that these films are known to cast upon their audience, and simply runs with it to the bitter end. Not only that, but the ambitious nature of the movie doesn’t go without notice, even by the most ornery of movie snobs. With a stellar cast that does more than an excellent job with the material, the film world becomes an excellent playground for these characters to just have a blast in. Doug McClure and Peter Gilmore especially seem to have a ball in this film, and the interesting situations that they find themselves in makes for some fast paced and remarkably entertaining viewing.
Not only does the cast carry the story along with great effect, but the film also moves at a tremendous pace as it shows us all that this wonderful new world has to offer. From lavish sets, to detailed matte paintings, to wonderful creature designs, the film has a substantial amount of creative input behind it that wholly shows as the movie begins to unwind. As an adventure movie the film is fantastic and the inclusion of Doug McClure is only icing on the cake. If you’re in the mood to get lost in a world that is filled to the brim with outlandish creatures and equally immersive vistas, then hunt down this obscure gem and give it a watch. Warlords of Atlantis is…..

What the hell did you just say about my ascot?

Doug thinks this movie is A OK.

Are those weirdos watching us?

Damn you Octopus! Damn you to HELL!

Damn, your barber must hate your guts to give you a haircut like that.

Pretty cool place you got here.

Screw this! This game of Red Rover is over!

Hold on. What the hell happened to your ascot?!?!

Now that's what I call living.

That Medusa do is outstanding!

Hey everyone! Enjoying the movie?

Come here you little bastards.

What the hell is going on?!?!?! I'm freaking out!!!

Hello, I see you over there you little sneak.

Shoot that motherfucker!

Looks like this octopus isn't done wrecking shit up.

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