Taking the Robert Louise Stevenson novel, Disney continues with their plagiarism of the classics which include Tarzan, Aladdin and Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. The twist on Treasure Island this time round is that it is set in space and cunningly re-titled Treasure Planet. Apart from that this Disney version is fairly accurate to the original source matter – with the exception of adding cutesy characters of course.
The latest plunder…er…adaptation begins with the introduction of 10-year old Jim Hawkins who has always been fascinated with space travel, exploration and adventure (preferably with pirates).
Years later Jim (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) still longs for adventure and luckily for him, one day a spaceship crashes outside of the tavern run by his mother. Emerging from the stricken ship is Billy Bones, an injured pirate with a map and warning “Beware of the cyborg” before joining the big pirate ship in the sky. The map shows the location of legendary Captain Flint’s hidden treasure.
Before you can say ‘pieces of eight’ Jim’s world is filled with pirates searching for the map and after they destroy his mothers inn, Jim decides to follow a path of adventure and see where the map leads to. With the help of kindly Dr Doppler (David Hyde Pierce) a dog-like astrophysicist, he hires a ship captained by cat-like Amelia (Emma Thompson) and sets sail for the destination outlined in the map.
Whilst on board the ship Jim befriends the cook John Long Silver (Brian Murray) and his pet Morph who is a shape shifting blob. Silver is a charismatic cyborg with more gadgets tucked away in his robotic arm than a Swiss Army knife. He soon takes a liking to young Jim and becomes a father figure and role model that Jim never had.
As expected (should have heeded the dying pirates warning of ‘beware of the cyborg’) Jim discovers that Silver has an ulterior motive which is going after the treasure himself.
Feeling betrayed, Jim flees with Dr Doppler, Captain Amelia and Morph ahead of Silver and the rest of the crew to Treasure Planet and there they discover B.E.N (voiced by Martin Short). B.E.N was the navigational robot belonging to Captain Flint who after 100 years abandonment is slightly insane.
Can Jim find Captain Flint’s long lost treasure before Silver and his marauding crew?
The first thing about Treasure Planet that strikes is the fantastic rendered computer generated backgrounds. They make a stark contrast to the traditional 2-D animated characters, but combined it does work well. Speaking of which some of the 2-D characters were uninspired as the potential to have some great freaky Star Wars cantina-style aliens is abound, but most, bar the lead characters, lack imagination.
The film does move at a fair old pace with the relationship between Jim and Silver at the centre of it. There is the usual cutesy Disney appearances, as Morph and B.E.N seem to be in the film only to up the potential of toys and merchandises at times.
On the whole Treasure Planet isn’t the best Disney film neither is it the worst. It has some moments of adventure and some great eye-candy and should keep the little cinema goers enthralled for 95 minutes – without boring the adults who have to take them too much!
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