Top critical review
ITS AWFULLY DARK & GLOOMY UP THERE!
on January 7, 2004
The legendary loot of a thousand worlds inspires an intergalactic treasure hunt when fifteen year old Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gorden-Levitt) stumbles upon a map to the greatest pirate trove in the universe. Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island Classic novel, the film follows Jim's fantastic journey across a parallel universe as a cabin boy aboard a space-galleon. Blossoming under the guidance of the cyborg cook John Silver (Brian Murray), Jim and the alien crew battle supernovas, black holes and ferocious space storms on their quest for the gold, but none of this can compare to deadly dangers that lay ahead.
One can't help but recall the surrealism of Yellow Submarine when watching this film, as the characters and even the concept of wooden Galleons with engines large enough to put the Millennium Falcon to shame fill a universe of oddly proportioned aliens and robots. Indeed, ignoring the insanity of an open decked ship in the vacuum of space, one can't help but think the romance of a feline captain and a scientist with canine origins is a little more than disturbing. Yet this is Disney, and all is pure and good when it comes to cross breeding of two species.
Seriously, Treasure Planet is an enjoyable romp through Stevenson's original classic, and while purists may have palpitations at the liberties that have been taken with the source material, the bottom line is that it is a thoroughly enjoyable family film. Martin Short's portrayal of B.E.N., a robot with a short circuit, is hilarious and recalls memories of Robin Williams turn as the Genie in Aladdin. David Hyde Pierce, making his second outing as a vocal talent in a Disney Film following A Bugs Life, is perfectly sardonic and draws knowingly from his successful performance as Niles in the TV sitcom Fraser. While Levitt, who made himself famous through his portrayal of Tommy in Third Rock from the Sun, is refreshingly straight as the teenage hero Jim.
Its the roughness of the animation that in my opinion really lets this film down. While it isn't bad by any standard, it doesn't have the flair of a Disney film, and near the introduction of Thompson's feline captain there are some glaringly obvious vocal-sync problems in matching the voice to the characters mouth. Indeed, this just doesn't have the magic of a Disney theatrical release and will more likely become a popular home video classic, as it lacks the grandeur and set pieces of some of their better know products.
Treasure Planet is a good film that lacks something at its core. It will make a great half term treat and adults will enjoy it as much as their children, but Disney needs to refill their salt shaker of Magic if this is all that they can muster.