George Pal’s Atlantis, the Lost Continent is a film that tried to be a grand spectacle on par with others of its ilk like Ben-Hur or Quo Vadis of which it supposedly borrows footage, but just could not quite make it all the way. It is not a bad film as it is quite enjoyable, it is simply for the fact that the script needed a little work, a couple of the actors needed to put in a little work and it could have used a little star power to push it over the top. As a B film, because that is what it ultimately is, it does manage to entertain the viewer and there is always something going on to capture your attention at any given moment.
The movie concerns a Greek fisherman played by Anthony Hall, of which a big deal is made later in the film. He rescues a princess who claims she is from Atlantis and he vows to take her home if he is able. Soon they are both picked up by a submarine from Atlantis and while Antillia as portrayed by Joyce Taylor goes free – she is a princess after all, Demetrios is made a slave. The story soon transforms from the usual sword and sandal epic to the fantastic with the introduction of power crystals and heat rays and the prediction that Atlantis is doomed. Demetrios is eventually given a chance to fight for his freedom and it is just in time so that he can rescue the girl and escape the island before it is destroyed for all time.
Borrowed footage notwithstanding, Atlantis, the Lost Continent is a big and bright film and features some great shots from Harold E. Wellman who was the cinematographer. Some of the special effects left a little to be desired, but they were better than many other films from the same time period and were easy to overlook. The best scene in the entire film was the battle between Demetrios and the ogre-like fellow in a trial by fire and water. It was paced well and looked great featuring a very novel idea which you would be hard-pressed to say you have ever seen before or since. Visually stunning in its simplicity, the set piece was very unassuming yet featured great danger in more than one way as Demetrios would soon learn and it was exciting to see him do battle to say the very least.
Anthony Hall, or Sal Ponti which was his real name, did a fair job during the film and tried to make the role his own. Between them, he and Taylor would have good chemistry which helped to make the film a little more palatable when there was a lack of action happening onscreen or a lack of good acting by some of the supporting players. John Dall was villainous and added a bit of menace to the events and overall, good script or not, the film had a lot going for it despite the few faults to be found.
There have been a ton of peplums over the years, both foreign and domestic and they continue to be produced to this very day. Atlantis, the Lost Continent may not be the best one you will ever see, but it is a solid little film that you will find easy to escape with on a Saturday afternoon.
3 out of 5