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Overall Rating

Awesome: 31.11%
Worth A Look: 17.78%
Pretty Bad: 4.44%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 27 user ratings

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Treasure Planet
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by DrChumley

"Sound and fury...and signifying nothing."
3 stars

There is a phrase used by some to describe the current trend in Hollywood blockbuster movies: Content-Free Enthusiasm. Empty special effects, empty scripts, and empty plotlines abound. Well, whoever has taken over the Disney feature animation department since the departure of Jeffrey Katzenberg must own stock in Content-Free Enthusiasm, Inc. Disney’s latest effort, Treasure Planet, is a pretty film to look at, but, like many of its recent predecessors, there’s not much beneath the surface.

Based on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel Treasure Island, Treasure Planet remains fairly faithful to the original story…except that it has been placed in outer space and stripped of the emotional objectives driving the characters. Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a troubled youth whose father walked out on he and his mother (Laurie Metcalf) and to whom is given a map to the fabled treasure of legendary pirate, Captain Flint. Jim sets off on a journey financed by family friend, astrophysicist Dr. Doppler (David Hyde-Pierce). Once on the ship, Jim strikes up an unlikely friendship with the ship’s cook, John Silver (Brian Murray). Jim eventually learns that Silver is the leader of a band of mutinous pirates that make up the entire crew and that Silver and company are busting to get their mitts on Captain Flint’s treasure as well. Adventure ensues and everyone eventually lives happily ever after (save a few people who get thrown overboard…)

Stevenson’s story has been a classic for years, and with good reason. This fanciful tale incorporates adventure, emotion, relationships, and a young man in search of his place in the world. All things considered, it really is surprising that Disney Animantion hasn’t retold this tale before now. It is Stevenson's story which allows the film to survive its many flaws.

Aside from the original story, this movie’s greatest asset is its voice talent. Gordon-Levitt does a wonderful job as the main character, infusing Hawkins with vulnerability and edginess at the same time. Emma Thompson and Martin Short both steal the show as the acerbic ship’s captain and marooned android B.E.N., respectively. Frasier’s Hyde-Pierce is hilarious as the foppish Dr. Doppler. Even the rough-but-lilting voice of Murray is perfect for the conniving Silver.

What doesn’t work, however, is the animation. Though stunningly beautiful in parts, Disney’s mixture of 3-D computer generated images and the traditional 2-D hand-drawn images doesn’t work. Though not as jarring as the 2-D/3-D mixture in Titan AE, Treasure Planet’s animation is very distracting. It is disconcerting to have such crudely-drawn, stylized characters interacting with near life-like scenery.

The idea of setting Stevenson’s wonderful story in space is, on the surface, an interesting one. Upon further inspection however, it becomes rapidly apparent that it is also an unnecessary and hindering one. According to, Treasure Planet has eleven writing credits listed, aside from Stevenson, who wrote the original. It's a classic case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.

The result of this "writing by committe" is two-fold. Firstly the story isn’t fluid. So little of the film is spent on character development that cause and effect for the characters is quite weak. Without knowing the story ahead of time, it is difficult to understand why the characters are acting the way they are.

Secondly, Treasure Planet is a movie that doesn’t know what it wants to be. One moment, the characters are flying through space on a state-of-the-art vessel. The next, they’re dancing a jig to 18th century Irish folk music, and then, we’re being treated to a montage underscored with modern pop music. It’s a very disjointed attempt at retelling a story with no real method or madness behind it.

Is It Worth Going? Eh…you won’t be missing anything if you opt out of Treasure Planet, but with some genuinely funny moments, it’s not painful to watch, even for adults. And of course, kids will enjoy it. It’s a thoroughly mediocre and forgettable addition to the Disney library.

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originally posted: 12/02/02 11:36:22
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User Comments

2/28/19 Nethaniel Flint Hey Disney, instead of a creepy live-action Aladdin, how about a Treasure Planet sequel? 5 stars
12/04/11 Quigley Incredibly imaginative with amazing visuals and artistic vision. But not a classic. 4 stars
10/19/11 Magic Even being mostly faithful to Stevenson can't make space galleons with open air decks work. 2 stars
9/20/08 Little Buddy From the directors of THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE,THE LITTLE MERMAID,ALADDIN and HERCULES. 5 stars
9/07/08 Little Buddy Treasure Planet is the best Disney feature since Lady And The Tramp and The Jungle Book. 5 stars
1/13/08 Tenacious Fox Truly underrated, Treasure Planet is definately worth seeing, minus a few rough spots. 5 stars
2/17/07 Kali Ravel The relationship between Jim and Silver is well handled, and the soundtrack rocks. 4 stars
6/20/06 Herculade Like an inverse of Mulan, in this case too targeted at teenage boys. Looks great though. 3 stars
3/28/06 Brian Meyer It bombed at the Box Ofiice. What's that tell you? AMERICA IS OVERRUN WITH MORONS!!!! 5 stars
10/28/03 amanda beatty i rate this the most highest flime out of walt disneys pictures. 5 stars
7/20/03 Cat In my own opinion it was great, for a number of reasons. 5 stars
6/14/03 Andrew Boyle Outstanding Technology 5 stars
5/07/03 Charles Tatum Incredible action sequences lifts this above the norm 4 stars
4/08/03 Andrew Carden Outstanding Animation and Voices, but Weak Storyline. 4 stars
3/03/03 Jess This movie deserves a 10 out of 10. It was beautiful, I liked it more than the book. 5 stars
2/20/03 Michael J White Totally absorbing and enjoyable. Lots of fun. No problem with animation. Great characters 4 stars
2/12/03 The Quirkfetch Kid Typical contemporary Disney noise&fury, smothering the story less than some other times. 3 stars
2/07/03 Turtle Great animation, a great script, and true heart make for a very good, underrated film. 4 stars
12/28/02 Carrie Summit i loved this movie! it was verry sweet! 5 stars
12/27/02 alien assassin Robert Louis Stevenson must be spinning in his grave !!!!! 2 stars
12/21/02 Aya Braeden MY FAVORITE MOVIE EVER. 5 stars
12/11/02 Cigar Store Santa Starts out lame but picks up. Emma Thompson's voice in that sexy cat body is delicious 4 stars
12/06/02 Emma I found the film heartwrenching, powerful and simply amazing. 5 stars
12/06/02 wintermute Not an instant classic, but I enjoyed this film - Not the kid's rattail however.... 4 stars
11/28/02 KingNeutron I consider myself a tough critic, but this movie rates 5+ stars. See it. 5 stars
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  27-Nov-2002 (PG)



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