Thursday, February 13, 2014

Treasure Planet 2002

Personal Overview: for the 3rd time in a row Disney go sci-fi. Treasure Planet is an attempt to retell the Robert Louis Stevenson classic Treasure Island as a sci-fi adventure.

It follows the original fairly closely, allowing for differences in that it’s set in outer space. Long John Silver is a cyborg, his parrot Captain Flint is a little pink shape shifting blob called Morph and marooned sailor Ben Gunn is a Johnny Five style robot called B.E.N. They added a feline alien ship’s captain called Amelia, played with suitable sternness by Emma Thompson.

One thing that won me over was the idea of setting it in outer space, but retaining the 19th century style of the original. The characters fly about in huge old style sailing ships that use solar sails, rather than sleek star fighters and cruisers. The clothing also has that 19th century style about it.

Hero/es: Jim Hawkins, as in the book is the hero here. There’s a fair bit of the young James Kirk from the Star Trek reboots in this and Joseph Gordon Levitt who would go on to bigger and better things does a good job with the role. Captain Amelia and Jim’s mentor Dr Doppler also get their chance to be heroes, as does B.E.N. I know they were going for comedy relief with the character, but Martin Short’s manic, scatter gun delivery became wearing very quickly and I was hoping someone could find the robot’s off button. As in the original you’re never quite sure about Long John.

Villain/s: because Long John goes between being Jim’s friend and father figure to desperate mutineer and pirate he’s the closest thing Treasure Planet has to a villain, but even when Jim’s life is at stake he gives up the chance for a once in a life time fortune to save his young friend. If pressed I’d also nominate the spiderlike Scroop. He does cut the line which causes the death of Captain Amelia’s trusted first mate Arrow and would have killed Jim and anyone else who got between him and Flint’s treasure if John hadn’t gotten him first.

Cuteness Factor: that honour goes to Morph, who was cuter than cute. His habit of changing briefly into miniatures of various characters was highly amusing, and he’s so cute in his little pink blobby form that every kid in the theatre when this was first screened was probably looking at the screen saying: “Want!” I know I want one of my own.

Animation: they outdid themselves with the ships and the spaceports. This was computer animation taken to a new level and it was breathtaking. The film took over four and a half years to create and the budget was huge.

Final Words: I quite liked the way this was staged and imagined. It probably deserved a bigger audience than it ever got. As it was it went down as one of Disney’s biggest ever financial losses until John Carter of Mars topped it fairly recently.

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