In 1985, back when Disney was in the middle of a slump, former Disney boss/future CEO of DreamWorks, Jeffery Katzenberg met with producers to brainstorm on some ideas to develop their next big project. One of them pitched the idea on adapting Treasure Island as an animated sci-fi action-adventure film. Jeffery wasn’t into the idea, causing Disney to cancel the high concept on blending swashbuckling steampunk & science fiction into a unique vision and moving on to develop films such as The Great Mouse Detective, Oliver & Company, and last but not least, The Little Mermaid, responsible for kickstarting “The Disney Renaissance.”
Two Decades Later, Disney began production in 2000, recruiting a bunch animators to draw characters, selecting writers to craft a Three Act Structure & hiring a cast of talanted actors to voice the characters by bringing them to life as three dimensional figures. What we got is a space version of Treasure Island, renamed as, “Treasure Planet.”
Treasure Planet opened in 2002 across the globe. At the time of its release, various critics gave it positive reviews, unfortunately, it failed to pass its $140 million dollar budget at the box office and its one of Disney’s financial flops. Overtime, viewers began to appreciate Treasure Planet as a cult classic. There was gonna be a sequel with Willem Dafoe, voicing a robotic version of Blackbeard, due to the financial disaster surrounding Treasure Planet, it never came true.
Now that A Wrinkle In Time is officially out in theaters worldwide, I’ve decided to look back at one my personal favorite Disney films to see what’s good or bad about it. Who knows if Reese Witherspoon’s latest film is gonna be Disney’s next John Carter or The Lone Ranger, because both films are considered the company’s infamous box office flops.
The following review does not contain gigantic SPOILERS. Feel free to read this article, if haven’t got a chance to view it. Does Treasure Planet still holds up? Let’s find out, shall we?
Gold & Buried Elements
Gold: Joesph Gordon-Levitt, Brian Murray, David Hyde Pierce, Emma Thompson & Martin Short all did a spectacular job on their respective performances.
Animation is presented in traditional hand drawn 2D format combined with C.G.I. The Animators looked up illustrations of Treasure Island to seek inspiration on the design quality. Environmental locations looked incredibly gorgeous.
Action Sequences were spot on amazing filled with high tech action packed moments that managed to keep me invested without looking at my watch.
Funny Moments managed to give me a couple of laughs.
One Character speaks in fluent fart language or in this case, “flautist” to an alien who literally speaks in fart sounds. I have to give this an Extra Point for making me laugh so hard.
Film Composer, James Newton Howard, (The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Hunger Games Trilogy) orchestrated the soundtrack.
The late Tony Jay (Judge Frollo from The Hunchback Of Norte Dame) voices The Narrator during The Opening Scene.
Goo Goo Dolls frontman, John Rzeznik, wrote and performed the theme song called, “I’m Still Here.” It’s played during a Montage Sequence. Disney personally chose him to come up with the song, because they want a rock star who reflects Jim’s angsty personality. I’m Still Here is a way better song than Frozen’s “Let It Go.” Why didn’t I’m Still Here get an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song?
The interactions between Jim & Silver, is one of the main highlights. Silver serves as a mentor to Jim.
Character Development involving Silver. Without giving too much away, as the film progresses, he becomes closer to Jim.
David Hyde Pierce’s character, Delbert Doppler, has got to be my favorite character as I consider him a scene stealer. I gotta love the part when he said, “Go Delbert, Go Delbert!” David ad-libbed the line, which wasn’t in the script.
We get to learn about Jim’s tragic backstory prior to leaving his home and the sole reason why he’s always constantly getting himself into trouble.
At The 0:3:34 mark, there’s a toy Stitch toy displayed on a shelf. He’s one of the title characters from Lilo & Stitch. Make sure you have eagle eyes to spot him! Lilo & Stitch came out the exact same year as Treasure Planet.
One character briefly sings, “A Pirate’s Life For Me.” One Year Later, Disney released the first installment of Pirates Of The Caribbean. Disney must’ve given us viewers a subliminal message back when they’re were filming The Curse Of The Black Pearl.
Buried: Seriously?! How the actual heck did Jim managed to survive in space without a protective spacesuit? In real life, he would’ve suffocated to death alongside Jimmy Neutron, who also has the ability to breath in space without any explanation whatsoever!
As in optional con for those who are total arachnophobes like me, there’s a character with legs resembling a spider. 2002 was a wall crawling trend for motion pictures related to spiders such as, Sam Rami’s Spider-Man, Eight Legged Freaks & Harry Potter & The Chamber Of Secrets.
The Final Verdict: A-
From my point of view, Treasure Planet is one of Disney’s criminally underrated masterpieces. It’s also one of my favorite interpretations of Treasure Island along with The Muppets’ Treasure Island. If you’ve never seen both versions, they’re definitely worth your money! Trust me fellow movie goers, you’re gonna enjoy as much as I did! It’s a shame that we never got a sequel we wanted, due to Disney not making enough money. What we got is one film, no direct-to-video film or animated television series.