There’s a reason Princess Kidagakash from Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Disney’s 41st animated feature film, was never recognised as an official Disney Princess. Her film falls just outside of the Renaissance. Fantasia, Dinosaur, and The Emperor’s New Groove came before it, and all four films performed less than expected at the box office. Kida misses out on being a Disney Princess, despite being a Disney princess, because her film isn’t a musical and didn’t gross enough at the box office (despite bringing in $186M). I have several theories why it didn’t fare as well as Disney hoped, despite mixed critic reviews and becoming a cult favourite: it was Disney’s first sci-fi, it had a beta male lead (not alpha like Aladdin, Tarzan or Hercules), it looks at first glance at a re-hash of Pocahontas (explorers travel to a ‘new world’ and meet a primitive yet harmonious society), kids who attended the Renaissance films were growing up (I was 14 and not interested in ‘kids’ films’ anymore, interestingly enough: I was too busy going to see films like Moulin Rouge!, and A Knight’s Tale,) but most importantly, it was up against a number of very high-grossing films through the year. The top ten highest-grossing films of 2001 in the US were: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; Monsters, Inc.; Shrek; Ocean’s Eleven; Pearl Harbour; The Mummy Returns; Jurassic Park III; Planet of the Apes; and Hannibal. Atlantis never even stood a chance.
So, poor Atlantis. Poor Princess Kida. Sure, she’s in the very first part of the film, when Atlantis sinks (a mere 8500 years before the film proper takes place: don’t even get me ranting on that longevity thing). She re-appears sometime later as a ancient yet youthful-looking woman whom, apparently, her father thinks she will magically learn some lesson once he dies and she takes the throne. I mean, she’s eight thousand, five hundred years old, right? What is she going to learn that hasn’t already been learned? And then she spends most of her time in some kind of crystal-induced trance…
Kida gets to spend some time developing a relationship with beta male linguistics professor Milo Thatch (awesomely voiced by Michael J Fox). For some reason, the ability to read their own language was lost when Atlantis sunk, and now Kida is totes dependant on Milo to teach her about her own history, the knowledge of which she sadly, also lacks. So: an advanced civilisation has effectively been rendered primitive and therefore unthreatening. LOL – they can’t even read!
Kida is curious, intelligent, and strong-willed, but she also has a softened heart and is willing to change the dying ways of her people. She is also depicted as a warrior princess, which I think is totally cool. When she and Milo rediscover the hidden crystal that powers Atlantis and gives the Atlanteans their longevity, and are betrayed by the dick leading the expedition for profit, not scientific discovery, she fights back. A bit. She gets in a good kick before she is overpowered, and then with Milo threatened, she obliges her captors.
It’s then that the crystal decides to take charge of her or possess her or something, and she’s pretty much rendered as a glorious glowy crystal being but unfortunately also totally helpless and easily kidnapped… because we all know all powerful beings are easily trapped in small boxes. She’s got nothing to do but sit there and look pretty and be in danger and be rescued by the mercenaries and Milo until… a volcano explodes. Then she snaps into actions and saves everyone’s lives.
Look, I like Kida, for the most part. I hate the time she spends passive and helpless, but I recognise it’s so that Milo can have a chance at being a hero by rescuing her, thus proving he’s not actually a beta male and is worthy of her love. Yeah, ‘cause that’s how the real world works #sarcasm. Kida can’t save herself from being kidnapped because she needs to be rescued, even though she’s totally kick-ass and powerful, but she can save the city once she’s been rescued from a fate she could totally have saved herself from if the writers weren’t so keen on writing Milo rescuing her. (Does anyone else’s head hurt?)
Oh, by the way, did I mention there is a serious lack of face nomming in this film? Disappointing. Here’s a piece of artwork I found especially for my readers who have come to expect face nomming at the end of every Disney post.