Treasure Planet

Starring:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jim Hawkins
Brian Murray as John Silver
David Hyde Pierce as Doctor Doppler
Martin Short as B.E.N.
Emma Thompson as Captain Amelia
Laurie Metcalf as Sarah
Roscoe Lee Browne as Mr. Arrow
Corey Burton as Onus
Dane A. Davis as Morph
Tony Jay as Narrator
Austin Majors as Young Jim
Patrick McGoohan as Billy Bones
Michael McShane as Hands
Michael Wincott as Scroop

Special Features:
Visual Commentary – The Producers & Directors reveal the “making of” process with additional footage as you watch the film
Deleted Scenes – Alternate Ending and Original Prologue
Disney’s Animation Magic – Go behind the scenes with Walt Disney Feature Animation Chairman Roy Disney
Disneypedia: The Life Of A Pirate Revealed
RLS Legacy: An Exploration Adventure Game – Take a virtual 3-D tour of the ship and be challenged to the ultimate treasure hunt.
Music Video – Performed by John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls
Behind the Scenes Videos

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.66:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Digital to Digital Transfer
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
THX Certified
French and Spanish Language Track
Running Time: 95 Minutes

Synopsis:
“Treasure Planet” is based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel “Treasure Island”. The twist is that this time it’s set in space.

Jim Hawkins is a troubled youth from a broken home. He lives with his mother in a spaceport inn. He longs for adventure and a father figure, yet neither ever arrives. However, when the mysterious Billy Bones crash lands at the inn, fatally wounded, his world changes. Bones gives Hawkins a map to the legendary Treasure Planet. It’s the rumored location of the loot hidden by a pirate many years before. However, Bones warns him of rival pirates wanting the map for themselves. Led by a cyborg named John Silver, they are the only thing standing between Hawkins and his fortune.

Hawkins and family friend Doctor Doppler charter a ship to find Treasure Planet. Captained by Amelia, they set off on their adventure. Along the way Hawkins becomes friends with the cook. Little does he know that the cook is the pirate John Silver in disguise. When Silver and the crew mutiny, it’s a mad race to be the first to find the loot of a thousand worlds on Treasure Planet.

“Treasure Planet” is rated PG for adventure action and peril.

The Movie:
I saw this movie when it was first released and I really enjoyed it. “Treasure Planet” didn’t do so well at the box office, but I think fans of sci-fi got a kick out of it. Most animated sci-fi action adventures have bombed at the box office (Atlantis, Titan AE, etc.), but they allow animators to tell cool stories that would otherwise cost millions of dollars to produce.

I was initially skeptical that they could successfully blend the story of Treasure Island with a sci-fi setting. After all, space ships resembling sailing ships could have looked really stupid. Fortunately, I felt it blended well together. The animators talk about the 70/30 rule on this film. That means that 70% of the design should look like old earth technology while 30% should look sci-fi. That’s definitely what they ended up with and the result is quite imaginative. The whole scene where the solar sailing ship leaves port is quite exciting. There’s some nice imagery there as the ship flies by “space whales”. It also works well with B.E.N. Originally an insane castaway, he’s now a broken robot that’s insane. It’s a good example of how the conversion from book to sci-fi worked well.

The blending of styles also works great with John Silver, the cyborg. Giving him a robotic hand rather than a hook is pretty cool. Silver also represents a jump in animation techniques. His robotic hand is entirely CG while the rest of him is hand drawn. The final result is pretty much seamless.

The voice cast is excellent. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is good as the troubled teen Jim Hawkins. Brian Murray does a great job as John Silver. He mixes just the right amount of menace and fatherly love into his voice. Silver ends up being both scary and friendly at the same time. It’s an important balance to maintain since they emphasize that Silver is a father figure for Hawkins. David Hyde Pierce is pretty much typecast as the geeky Doctor Doppler. He is well contrast by Emma Thompson as the confident and assertive Captain Amelia. It’s a big chore to make you believe that she cold command a bunch of shady pirates, but she does a good job of it. Martin Short provides some much needed comic relief as the short-circuited B.E.N. Laurie Metcalf rounds out the voice talent as Jim’s doting mother Sarah.

The movie has a fair bit of action in it that’s pretty cool. There are some great battles in a black hole, a chase on Treasure Planet itself, and an explosive finale. If you’re a fan of action or sci-fi, you’ll like this. The music in the film is also really good. Besides the excellent score by James Newton Howard, there’s also a good single by John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls called “I’m Still Here”.

Overall it’s a fun and exciting animated movie, but it’s more geared towards older boys than the kiddies.

The Extras:
The “Treasure Planet” DVD offers up your usual extra features:

Visual Commentary – The Producers & Directors of the film provide commentary during the film, then occasionally the movie will stop and a behind the scenes feature will kick in. These features are about the alternate opening sequences, the making of the movie, the animation, music, and more. You have the option of watching these features separately, but you’ll miss the commentary for the film. The features are interesting and informative and worth checking out of you saw the movie. Watching them outside the commentary will probably be sufficient, though.

Deleted Scenes – Alternate Ending and Original Prologue – There are just a few deleted scenes on the DVD. The first is an alternate opening sequence. Rather than showing young Jim reading a storybook, it has an older Jim Hawkins talking about the history behind the treasure. The final version works a whole lot better, so it was a good change. Another scene has an alternate confrontation between Jim and his mother while another shows Jim watching an alien father and son work together on a scooter. It helps emphasize why he feels alone and why he warms up to Silver. The final deleted scene shows Jim using his loot to fix up his mother’s inn. None of these deleted scenes are special, but they’re nice to include in the extras.

Disney’s Animation Magic – Roy Disney hosts this brief feature. Pretty much all he does is introduce behind the scenes segments about the making of the film. This would be cool enough, but the sequences he shows are ones seen elsewhere on the DVD. To make things worse, there’s some annoying title cards between each one glaringly reminding you that you’re watching “Disney’s Animation Magic!” It almost seems like this is a TV feature previously shown on the Disney Channel between shows.

Disneypedia: The Life Of A Pirate Revealed – This is an excellent educational feature on pirates. Presented like the book at the beginning of the movie, it talks about real pirates, their ships, their flags, their code of conduct, and more. You’ll learn the difference between a pirate, a buccaneer, and a privateer. You’ll learn the origin of the Jolly Roger as well as the story behind some women pirates. This is one of the coolest educational extras I’ve seen on a DVD.

RLS Legacy: An Exploration Adventure Game – This is advertised as a game, but it’s not really. Some of the crew simply talk about the computer animated Legacy ship as a video tour takes place. As the screen goes around the deck and below, the creators discuss different aspects of the design. One talks about the nautical features, another the technical, and more. The fact that they run through it three times makes it not only boring but also redundant. The most interesting comments from all three should have been combined into one tour.

Music Video – Performed by John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls – This music video is pretty cool. It’s filled with special effects and weird imagery. If you never saw Treasure Planet, you wouldn’t notice much special about it. However, if you’ve seen the film, you’ll notice elements from the feature hidden throughout it. The good song and excellent effects come together to make an interesting music video worth checking out.

Other features on the DVD include trailers, poster images, features on the creation of the look of the movie, and much more. Also look in “Sneak Peeks” for the first preview of “Brother Bear”. Coming in November 2003, it features music by Phil Collins, some unique creatures from the north including Canadian moose, and more. It looks like it’s going to be good and this is your first glimpse at it. It’s part trailer, part behind the scenes video.

The Bottom Line:
“Treasure Planet” is a fun sci-fi flick. Good animation, fun voice talent, and a unique blending of styles keep things interesting. While not for all kids, young boys should get particular enjoyment out of it.

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