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Tag: Michael J. Fox

QuickView: Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie (2023)

“Actors don’t become actors because they are brimming with self confidence. An actor’s burning ambition is to spend as much time as possible pretending to be somebody else.”

Michael J. Fox

I rarely read autobiographies — in part because I don’t believe that being famous automatically gives one a greater insight into the human condition — but one that has stayed with me is Michael J. Fox’s 2002 memoir Lucky Man, written a few years after he went public with his young onset Parkinson’s diagnosis. Twenty years later, Davis Guggenheim’s documentary is a very similar experience, allowing Fox to narrate his life story with the same incurable optimism whilst also showing more vulnerability — there is footage of him falling during physiotherapy, covering bruises with makeup (“Gravity is real, even if you only fall from my height”), whilst interview segments show him struggling at times to speak clearly as he balances the timing of his medication. Whilst Fox narrates, Guggenheim illustrates his rise to fame using thematically relevant scenes from Fox’s work — it is more effective than one might expect, particularly with his breakout sitcom Family Ties. Conversely, with hindsight it is fascinating to see Fox visibly masking his symptoms in footage from Spin City. His positive tone is mirrored by a light and upbeat score that avoids saccharine sentimentalism. Though Still may hew closely to the stereotypical rise and fall documentary, there is a depth evident the multifaceted title which refers simultaneously to Fox’s inability to remain still as an energetic child, his concealment of his Parkinson’s tremors for seven years, how he has been forced to be still and present in his life, and the fact he is still here. Perhaps most moving is an unguarded moment in which Fox admits the strain he feels in needing to present a positive image as an advocate for those with Parkinson’s, to which his physiotherapist suggests he should not always be holding himself to that public role, “It’s okay not to be Michael J. Fox sometimes”. Still may not cover new ground as a documentary, but its autobiographical nature makes it more personal, elevated by Fox’s grace and good humour.


Disclosure: I know personally at least one person involved in the making of this film.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

director: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
starring: Michael J. Fox, Cree Summer, James Garner, Leonard Nimoy
running time: 95 mins
rating: U

“Nobody got hurt. Well, maybe somebody got hurt, but nobody we knew.”


Yes, it’s a cartoon. Yes, it’s Disney. But Atlantis is also an impressive science fiction film in its own right, and refreshingly different from the standard Disney fare. Disney have made some excellent cartoons in the past, notably Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King but recently have been failing to deliver that standard. Here we see a departure from the cute sidekicks and sugary songs, and are offered a darker action film which kids can still enjoy.

Milo Thatch [Michael J. Fox], a linguistics expert working as a museum boiler room attendent, has been continuing the work of his grandfather and has finally solved the puzzle of the location of Atlantis. With the aid of an eccentric billionaire, he and a team of intrepid explorers set out to find the fabled lost city and its power source, the Heart of Atlantis. When they arrive, however, Milo discovers from Princess Kida [Cree Summer] that the Atlanteans’ power is slowly waning, and realises he might be the key to saving their way of life.

Disney have pushed the boundaries considerably with this film, earning it a PG rating in the USA. Ferocious battles, including realistic gun use, abound as well as gigantic robot monsters defending the city. The characters are also darker, but equally characterised in greater depth, than usual, with the team including pyromaniacs, chain smokers, and a dirt-obsessed frenchman (Mole is the least impressive of the character designs, providing a rather bland variety of slapstick comic relief). Most impressively, the romantic connection between Milo and Kida is neither love at first sight, nor filled with longing gazes. Instead it is subtly infused in their relationship, and develops in a sweet and mature fashion.

The computer aided artwork and cell shaded animation varies in quality throughout the film. Atlantis features some top notch underwater sequences and a brilliantly creative portrayal of an entirely new civilisation. However, at times backdrops lack the detail of some of the previously mentioned Disney greats. While the animation of those films looked virtually identical, Atlantis utilises a distinctive and unique style, a dramatic departure for a Disney film. Indeed influences can be seen from Japanese anime, with the wide-eyed characters and especially in the sharp hair of the Atlanteans, who look genuinely attractive! The more squared-off adventurers contrast the lithe Atlanteans, utilising different artistic styles to highlight the differences between the two cultures. Other influences come from the comicbook style of drawing, but these sources are not being copied or exploited, but instead are infused with Disney’s own design skills to produce something new and innovative.

The plot is hugely flawed, with many holes or threads that are not developed. The film runs are almost a quarter of an hour longer than any previous animated Disney release, in order to allow its story to develop at a slower pace, and yet there are a still a few scenes which appear rushed. Disney shot high in trying to weave a truly epic tale with this cartoon, and the tangled plot just misses the mark. The voice acting talent is excellent, and rarely can such a cast be brought together. Older sci-fi fans will love having Fox, Nimoy and also Claudia Christian (Ivanova from Babylon 5) in a single film.

Atlantis is not a perfect Disney film, but it is delightfully original in both its content and execution. It maintains a Jules Verne-esque epic quality throughout, and it may have gained more commercial success as a live-action film, we are instead offered some of the most stunningly ambitious animation in a Disney movie yet. Having hit the peak of cutesy sing-along cartoons more than once, and probably achieving all they can in that area, surely the future of Disney lies in this more mature direction.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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