The first time I saw the poster (left) for Treasure Planet, I remember thinking, “Is Square working with Disney now?” The film came out around the same time as the first Kingdom Hearts game, so it was logical reasoning, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Square’s designers influenced the designer who worked on this poster.
Loosely based on the classic adventure book, Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, the film follows Jim Hawkins (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as he tries to find the treasure left behind by the infamous Captain Flint. Many of the characters from the original book are here, albeit in alternate versions in many cases (John Silver is a cyborg, Billy Bones is the one who gives Jim the idea to look for the treasure, Mr. Arrow is the first mate, etc.)
Silver was masterfully played by Brian Murray; I thought the character was brought to life and showed both his greedy side and his human and compassionate side. The wacky robot B.E.N., voiced by Martin Short, was interesting to a degree, but started to get on my nerves after a while. Luckily, he’s only in the last half of the film. Emma Thompson also did a great job playing the educated, witty, and dangerous Captain Amelia. She’s definitely someone you want working with you and not against you.
The imagery is grand and sweeping, with beautiful spacescapes acting as the backgrounds for the adventure. I loved the imaginative setting for Jim’s hometown port, set “vertically” on the inside curve of a thumbnail moon. The other settings used throughout the film are also creative in their own ways.
The music, by James Newton Howard, is pretty average other than the song “I’m Still Here” (by John Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls fame). It immediately caught my interest, and I listen to it regularly. It really fit the film and conveyed the feeling I think the animators and writers were trying to share.
The story was good, but not exceptional or very compelling. It seemed to meander a little. It effectively shows how parental abandonment can affect children, and it also shows that most people (even the really bad ones) have a soft side and can have redeeming qualities. I think these are very useful messages for the target audience and children of all ages.
Overall, Treasure Planet was an enjoyable film despite the various issues I mentioned above. For a Disney film, it wasn’t one of the best ones, but it’s still quite good and is a permanent part of my collection.
Release Date: November 27, 2002 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Violence: 2 (sword and gun fights, fisticuffs, death by black hole, some peril)