Treasure Planet

A Film Review By Michael Haley

Rating:PG for nothing.
Starring: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Brian Murray, Laurie Metcalf, David Hyde Pierce, Martin Short
Directed By: Ron Clements, Don Musker

Final Grade:

Treasure Planet is a space adventure adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, a book that I should have read being an English major but alas have not (I can’t stand half of the books I do have to read at times, so why waste my time on that one?) Nevertheless, Disney has taken the original source material and crafted a joyous and epic adventure for the young and old alike, and will be enjoyed by all. And no, Cuddly Michael did not return…this is good old Michael writing this review, which goes to show how special this film is.

Jim Hawkins is a dreamer who wishes to go on an epic adventure, enchanted by the moving pop up books he read as a child. I presume this one is set in the future since humans and aliens intermix, although the movie doesn’t specify, not that it matters. Twelve years pass, and he still has the heart of an adventurer, although his mom is falling upon tough times financially. He comes across an orb that he instantly figures out the secret to, which opens to reveal the location of the treasure of a thousand worlds, hidden on a planet far away. He joins the crew of a space ship to seek out the treasure, befriending the cook along the way. However, the cook is also the leader of a ring of pirates who have been seeking the treasure, which leaves the cook in a predicament…does he turn his back on the treasure he’s been seeking his whole life in favor of the boy, or betray him and go for the gold as he intended to do in the first place?

This isn’t a “deep” movie by any means, as the thematic content of the story will be familiar to even those who have not read Treasure Island. However, it’s so insanely well done here that we feel as if we’re seeing this kind of thing for the first time. The characters are believable and fun, especially the Morph creature that hangs around the Cook but doesn’t have a particular allegiance but chooses to morph into various people and things at his amusement. The characters are developed well throughout, until we find that the lines of good and bad among the principal characters (not secondary) are blurred to the point where we can look at them without putting them through a “good” or “evil” filter. The story is well written and sentimental without resorting to sap, and John Reznick’s songs enhance the story well, not to mention the thrilling and enchanting score.

However, what really did it for me was the sense of true adventure, as the space travelers go though scene after scene of creative beauty. The film is a hybrid mix of traditional 2-D animation for the characters transverse through 3-D, CGI backgrounds, and the result is lovely. The camera flows freely (okay, there isn’t really a camera in animation, but you know what I mean) and the sense of fluidity and freedom is awe inspiring. The film is overflowing with little details like the space fish, that look both menacing yet enticingly beautiful, as well as the various stars and planets that occupy this galaxy. One feels as if he truly on the adventure along with the crew, and when Hawkins has to swab the deck, we feel along with him because we want to see the sights as much as he does.

If it wasn’t for a pile of undone homework, I would continue this review further, but as college students I’m sure you can all sympathize. The only weak moments were some of the “kiddy” humor as well as the flatulence monster that was unnecessary and detracted from the wonder of the moment, but all things considered, I can (and will) overlook it. Treasure Planet is one of the year’s finest films, and together with Spirited Away represents a hell of a year for animation. You won’t regret watching this one.

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