Around the time of the cavemen, a huge fiery ball of rock hurtles through the void of outer space until it enters the atmosphere of planet Earth and down into the depths of the sea. Thousands of years later, the waters of the mid-Atlantic have not been entirely charted, and who knows what could lie beneath the surface? Scientist Charles Aitken (Peter Gilmore) means to find out, with the help of his cohort Gregory Collinson (Doug McClure) and a submersible which has been transported to a stretch of ocean where ships have been known to disappear. The captain (Shane Rimmer) and the crew know little of what Charles plans to find, and help out by lowering the submersible containing Charles and Gregory into the sea, but their minds are changed by an artefact that the two men uncover there which has been fashioned from pure gold...
This was the fourth in the series of adventures from the team of producer John Dark, director Kevin Connor and star McClure, after The Land that Time Forgot, At the Earth's Core, and sequel The People that Time Forgot, and the only one not based on a story by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Warlords of Atlantis was scripted by former Doctor Who writer Brian Hayles, and has a similar strain of British idiosyncrasy about it, despite being an American co-production. Rest assured, the rubber monsters familiar from the first three films are present and correct, as is the piling on of incident and special effects, regardless of how convincing they are on screen. The first monster we see is an aquatic dinosaur which announces its presence by poking its head up through the bottom of the submersible.
The submersible, you see, has an ingenious design which is explained by Gregory with the use of a coffee mug, where the air pressure keeps the sea from flooding in, but means getting in and out can get you a bit wet as the explorers soon discover. Meanwhile, the crew make up their minds to keep the gold artefact for themselves and cut the line to the submersible, stranding Charles and Gregory - but what's this? A giant octopus, no less, which is attracted by the gold and attacks the ship in an amusingly over the top scene. The creature drags the crew (the cabin boy and the professor stay behind after being overpowered earlier) down into the water, witnessed by an aghast Charles and Gregory, and a whirlpool erupts, pulling the submersible into a cavern. Whatever would Jacques Cousteau say?
It wouldn't be called Warlords of Atlantis without Atlantis, no it's no surprise what they all find when they are washed up on an undersea shore - the crew have survived their ordeal, in a difficult to believe development, but don't let on about their mutinous ways. They are met by Atmir (Michael Gothard), a humourless chap who leads a small contingent of eyeless, fish-headed men who act as the security. It's not long before they reach a large underground city and see the slavery of the other unlucky survivors of the Atlanteans' octopus, including the crew of the Mary Celeste. Gregory is having none of this, and predictably starts a fight, leading to imprisonment for the newcomers.
But not all of them, as Charles, by dint of his superior brainpower, is invited to meet the ruling class. He is given the grand tour by Atsil, played by screen legend Cyd Charisse in one of the worst costumes ever committed to celluloid (what is she wearing on her head?). Charles is given a helmet to don which shows him what the denizens of Atlantis have in store for planet Earth, i.e. stock footage of wars and weapons. Considering all these things happened anyway, and the baddies are not really defeated at the end, can we presume that the Atlanteans got their way? It's best not to think too hard about the plot of the film - just go with the flow, as if being sucked down by an underwater whirpool, and it's a fairly enjoyable ride with generally witty perfomances and plentiful action. And where else can you get to see Doug McClure beat up Cliff from Cheers? Music by Michael Vickers.