Warlords of Atlantis (1978) was the 4th in a series of fantasy films by Amicus director Kevin Connor, but despite an original screenplay by Brian Hayles [it was the first film from Connor not based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs book] the plot contains many elements that anyone watching for the first time will already be familiar with. A group of people go searching for something in the ocean, but some of the party know more than they’re letting on. Before they know it they’re transported to an unknown land, in this case the lost city of Atlantis, which is run by an ancient race of people called The Warlords.
Early on, Connor’s film seems to have a lot going for it. There’s a good scare in the beginning involving a monster inside a diving bell that’s timed perfectly. Actually, the creature designs are strong throughout which may have something to do with the fact that they were designed by Roger Dickens, who a year later went onto work in the special effects department of a little-known film called Alien (1979). The sets, for the most part, also do their job of giving the lost city a sense of otherness that provides much of the film’s adventurous tone.
Which is why it’s such a shame that the direction isn’t up to scratch. Connor makes some mistakes that just aren’t acceptable in any time period, such as allowing his audience to literally see the strings behind it all. Also a pity is the poor dialogue and lack of surprises in the script. If you’ve seen any film with this structure before or since 1978 then Warlords of Atlantis isn’t going to offer any shocks.
So, although those feeling nostalgic will find some solace in the creature designs, Hayles’ dated script and Connor’s over-revealing direction leave a stale aftertaste.
Originally Posted at: www.newempressmagazine.com