Most people I know who watched "The Lost Treasure of Atlantis" felt the same way about it as I do. It was a solid effort with plenty of rewarding material, but it just didn't come together as the masterpiece most had been hoping for. Starting with the good, the opening half hour was pretty strong, particularly the back-to-back escapes from the military barricades in the Kosovo-esque region. The next major action scene in the museum, and then spilling onto the streets of London, was also nicely done. Most of the layering of the Atlantis legend played out nicely as well, particularly the platinum pages in the magnetic ark serving as punch cards for an ancient computer. As for the criticisms, they were far too many given the budget allocated for this film and the impressive track record that scriptwriter John Sheppard and director Michael Vejar had with the MacGyver series. The production had a decidedly British feel, which seemed immediately out of step with the series and lended itself to hysterical overacting by just about everyone, most notably Brian Blessed as Professor Atticus. College professor Kelly was an utter bore and villain Lord Cleave was also yawningly generic. The fact that the dialogue they were given was so lame, particularly in the final hour, didn't help matters. And while Atticus' original double cross was unpredictable and effectively done, it was idiotic to turn him back into a good guy only 10 minutes later. Logic failed elsewhere as well. For whatever reason, Atticus "wished he'd never heard of Atlantis" once they arrived at Thera and had no plans of heading into the caves to search for the treasure....until MacGyver found the platinum page in the ark, at which point they couldn't head to the caves fast enough. Why the immediate change of heart? The final scene in the volcano had its moments, but the revelation of Atlantis as being a single chest drawer full of paper scrolls submerged within a volcano was disappointing. The escape from the burning volcano wasn't bad, but failed to rise to the level of the best scenes from the series. I had high hopes for this to be "the greatest MacGyver adventure of all time", but the more I watch it and pick apart its multiple flaws, the more I feel it was a lost opportunity.
Despite ABC slotting the film on Saturday night in its worst time slot, "Lost Treasure of Atlantis" managed a 9.1 rating, the best ABC had scored in the slot in a couple of years and quite possibly better than anything since. Still, I knew it needed to do better than that for ABC to insist upon the production of more MacGyver telefilms. Since that request was never made, it appears I was right.