Directed By: Ron Clements, John Musker
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Thompson, Martin Short
Tag line: "Robert Louis Stevenson's Greatest Adventure 'Treasure Island' As It Has Never Been Seen Before"
Trivia: The name of the ship, "R.L.S. Legacy" is a reference to the book's ("Treasure Island") author, Robert Louis Stevenson
Disney’s Treasure Planet is proof positive that a handful of good scenes and a few funny moments don’t amount to a great family movie. A decent one, perhaps, but not a great one.
Inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, Treasure Island, Treasure Planet introduces us to Jim Hawkins (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a young man who’s always getting into trouble. He and his mother (Laurie Metcalf) run the Benbow, an Inn for space travelers, and their most loyal patron is Doctor Doppler (David Hyde Pierce), a dog that doubles as an astrophysicist. When the mysterious Billy Bones (Patrick McGoohan) crash lands near the Benbow and gives Jim a map to a place called Treasure Planet, Jim and Dr. Doppler hire a ship and set off, hoping the map will lead them to the hidden treasure of the notorious space pirate, Flint. Their ship, the RLS Legacy, is helmed by Captain Amelia (Emma Thompson), a wily space “dog” in the guise of a feline. As for Jim, who's never been on board a vessel like the Legacy before, he's placed in the care of the ship’s cook, John Silver (Brian Murray). Posing as a honest crewman, Silver is actually a former member of Flint’s crew, and plans to steal the treasure he feels is rightfully his. Jim is wary of Silver, yet the two of them bond when Silver defends Jim after the young man is blamed for the death of the ship's ornery first mate, Arrow (Roscoe Lee Browne). Still, Jim knows Silver can’t be trusted, and keeps a sharp eye on his new ‘friend’ once the RLS Legacy arrives at Treasure Planet and begins its search for a fortune in loot.
I really wanted to love this film. Treasure Island is my favorite book, and I thought the change in venue, from sea-faring adventure to deep-space spectacular, might introduce Stevenson's story to a new generation. But the end result was, to say the least, disappointing. For one, the movie starts slowly, and is even boring early on. Also, the characters seem half-baked, and I made no connection whatsoever with many of them (to transform the novel’s Dr. Livesey, a shrewd, clever man, into the bumbling Dr. Doppler was a downright travesty). The tempo does pick up when John Silver and the RLS Legacy enter the picture, but Treasure Planet never reaches that level of exhilaration I was hoping for, and the ending, while certainly thrilling, left me cold; it was exciting, just not particularly interesting.
For the audience this film is shooting for (namely kids), Treasure Planet is an entertaining enough diversion. But with Treasure Island serving as its source material, the fact that Treasure Planet didn’t bowl me over means it fell way short of my expectations.