|Director:||Ron Clements, John Musker|
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Video|
Treasure Planet, a pet project of Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Hercules codirectors Ron Clements and John Musker, is an ambitious animation hybrid (traditional animation combined with elaborate CGI backgrounds). It was the subject of numerous in-studio battles, but Disney office politics and a poor public reception shouldn’t distract one from its many admirable qualities, not the least being its overall fidelity to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel Treasure Island. Curiously revamped as a sci-fi adventure with space-faring…
Treasure Planet, a pet project of Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Hercules codirectors Ron Clements and John Musker, is an ambitious animation hybrid (traditional animation combined with elaborate CGI backgrounds). It was the subject of numerous in-studio battles, but Disney office politics and a poor public reception shouldn’t distract one from its many admirable qualities, not the least being its overall fidelity to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel Treasure Island. Curiously revamped as a sci-fi adventure with space-faring galleons, flintlock ray guns and extreme-sports attitude, it caters to a young audience for whom Stevenson’s adventure is an undiscovered treasure, revving up the material with arcade-game excitements. It’s entertaining, for what it is, and kids will surely enjoy it. Maybe next time, however, Disney will follow its own legacy and properly adapt Stevenson (as they did with their 1950 live-action classic) for a new, and hopefully receptive, generation. —Jeff Shannon
Barnes and Noble
One of Disney’s most ambitious animated undertakings (reportedly 17 years in development), this Oscar-nominated adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic adventure was buried at the box office but is definitely worth discovering on home video. The basic story has captivated generations, fueling live-action versions by Victor Fleming in 1934 and Walt Disney in 1950, and even a puppet-action version in 1996 (Muppet Treasure Island), among others. In an attempt to avoid the box-office poison inherent in the words “pirate movie,” Disney gave Stevenson’s tale a futuristic spin, setting an alienated young man, Jim Hawkins, on a space-age collision course with aliens. It begins when Jim comes into possession of a virtual treasure map to the fabled Treasure Planet, said to hold “the loot of a thousand worlds.” The film’s Long John Silver is a cyborg (voiced by stage veteran Brian Murray), and he’s at once nemesis and mentor to Jim—with an artificial Cuisinart arm, to boot (he’s also cook aboard the spaceship Legacy). David Hyde Pierce gives voice to family friend Dr. Doppler, a fussy, doglike creature, and Emma Thompson voices Legacy’s formidable feline commander, Captain Amelia. Martin Short’s marooned robot, B.E.N., is no match for Robin Williams’s Genie, but he still generates most of the film’s laughs. The animation, which seamlessly combines traditional hand-drawn characters and computer-generated backgrounds, is out-of-this-world. An opening solar board sequence is a universe beyond the tree-surfing shots in Tarzan. The DVD edition contains considerable plunder for animation buffs, including illuminating “visual commentary” by directors Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid and Aladdin), and several segments that chart the film’s evolution. Donald Liebenson
Not exactly the most seamless adaptation ever attempted, this animated version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic swashbuckler (now set in outer space, even if the “ships” appear inexplicably unchanged since the 18th century) at least benefited from Disney’s always high production standards. Those factors also insure that James Newton Howard’s orchestral score is serviceably effervescent and retro enough for the film’s storytelling gambit—if still a long way from the heights of Korngold’s triumphant, genre-defining music for The Sea Hawk and other Errol…
When Jim Hawkins finds an old pirate map showing a small island marked with a red cross, he knows that a fortune in gold lies waiting for him. What could be more exciting than buried treasure? Aboard a ship named the Hispaniola, Jim sails toward Treasure Island. The voyage goes well until Jim overhears a frightening conversation. He learns that the one-legged man who signed on as ship’s cook is really the famous pirate Long John Silver. And worse—he discovers that the crew are teaming up with Silver to steal the treasure. Can Jim save the gold…and save his life?