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HTF REVIEW: "Treasure Planet" (with screenshots) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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Treasure Planet





Studio: Walt Disney
Year: 2002
Rated: PG
Film Length: 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.66:1)
Subtitles: English




Find your place in the universe.


It was inevitable that Disney would be unable to
keep up their streak of animated successes forever.
Starting with the Atlantis and following
with the release of Treasure Planet, the
studio was witnessing a reluctance among teenage
moviegoers to embrace action-oriented animated
fare. It seemed the studio knew they had a failure
on their hands even before the film opened, thus,
despite a $140 million budget, it waited until the
last minute to hold press screenings, which
critics usually take as a sign a film isn't very
good. Even the film's promotional campaign was
drastically scaled down. Upon the film's opening,
it witnessed a weak $12 million opening weekend
and rapidly went down from there.

From the director's of Disney's Aladdin and
The Little Mermaid comes a brand-new
futuristic version of the classic Robert Louis
Stevenson's tale, Treasure Island. Treasure
Planet
takes Stevenson’s story and seemingly
mixes it with elements of Star Wars and
Stargate, creating a very interesting hybrid.

Jim (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) spends his
childhood wondering about the identity of his absent
father and "reading" storybooks that are essentially
three-dimensional films reproduced by mini-hologram
projectors. The books tell him stories of space-
roaming pirates and hidden fortune on a place called
Treasure Planet



Years later we find the grown teenager helping
run the Admiral Benbow Inn with his Mom. Jim has
become a sort of delinquent, often finding himself
in trouble with the law. One night, when a one-man
spaceship crash-lands nearby, Jim helps the wounded
pilot reach the inn, only to have the creature hand
him a holographic treasure map and mutter out a few
cryptic words before dying. Upon closer examination,
Jim finds out that he holds a valuable star map in
his hand -- one that will take him to Treasure
Planet
and its hidden mother load.



Jim and family friend Dr. Doppler (David Hyde Pierce)
hire the services of Captain Amelia (Emma Thompson)
and her first mate Arrow (Roscoe Lee Browne) who
run the ship that will ultimately take them to their
destination. Aboard the ship, the young adventurer
is assigned to work with the ship's cook, Long John
Silver (Brian Murray), a cyborg with an arm that has
more gadgets than a Swiss army knife.



On the plus side, this is one of Disney's best
animated achievements to date. Using hand-painted
animation techniques and experimental 3D computer
graphics, CG animators have created "virtual sets"
where characters move in three-dimensional space.
The result is nothing short of some of the most
stunning animation I have ever seen. The story has
been cleverly updated, mixing a swashbuckling
pirate adventure with science fiction.



On the down side, the film just doesn't have the
charm or wit of some of our recent Disney favorites
like The Lion King, Monsters Inc. or even
Aladdin. The characters here are mostly
weak -- so much so, you really don't care what
happens to them along the way. Disney's biggest
attempt at humor here comes in the form of an
animated "Jar Jar Binks" buffoon named B.E.N.
(Bio-Electronic-Navigator, voiced by Martin Short),
a rusty old robot with a missing memory circuit.
As much as I love Martin Short, his contribution
to this film isn't appreciated here.

Still, Treasure Planet isn't a total letdown.
It's stunning visuals and sonics are going to give
new life to this DVD release. Let me talk about
that now....


How is the transfer?


What a visual treat! This is by far the most
amazing, eye-opening animated transfer on DVD.
This direct digital transfer is so absolutely
clean, crisply detailed and color-vibrant that
it looks nearly HI-DEF. I was just blown to
pieces by the deep blues and reds that dominate
the color palette without a bit of oversaturation.
Never before have I seen such considerable texture
and depth in an animated film. I'll eat my dirty
socks if you don't find this to be one of the most
outstanding animated transfers you have ever seen.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is equally as
impressive. This is an incredibly active mix
that sports an energetic high-impact sound design
with directional cues that are well distributed all
the channels. Audio is extremely robust across
the front channels with wide dynamics and dialogue
that is sometimes firm in the center channel, and
other times cleverly moves left to right (and
vise-versa). James Newton Howard's fast paced
orchestral mayhem score is a dominating presence
to this mix, although it stays mostly front-heavy.
The rears provide a wealth of effect noises -- mostly
ship flyovers that are accompanied by hefty .LFE
rumbling that makes for an outstanding sonic
experience.


Special Features



One would think, given Disney's track record, that
Treasure Planet would have been presented
in a deluxe 2-disc set. On the other hand, this
was such a disappointing box-office failure for
the studio that they probably opted to play it safe
with a single-DVD release.



First up is the visual commentary courtesy
of Director Ron Clements and John Musker as well
as Producer Roy Conli. There are no icons here
to look out for. Instead, while you are watching
the film, the picture suddenly branches to a
non-anamorphic screen, a visual narration by the
three filmmakers, and then bits and pieces of
added material that includes alternate scenes
and story ideas, storyboarded deleted scenes,
interviews with Art Director and animators, and
other behind-the-scenes movie secrets. As soon as
the branched segment is completed, you are returned
exactly to the spot you left off. You can easily
find all this material after completion of watching
the film straight through, by using your remote to
click chapter-by-chapter.

Behind the scenes is a collection of nine
areas that contain short video segments, production
items, trailers, still galleries and more! Let's
take a quick look...

Story gives us theatrical trailer for
the original 1950s Treasure Island. In
addition, a story art gallery provides
approximately 27 conceptual art photos -- some of
which is of material that did not make it to the
film.



Art Design begins with a short 2-minute
featurette called The Brandywine School which
gives us a history on the earliest storybook
illustrations that came out of the Brandywine School
of Art. These early oil paintings inspired the
animators of this film. The 70/30 is
another short featurette that looks at the ratio
of 30 percent traditional, 70 futuristic sci-fi
style animation. Finally, a Still art gallery
provides us with dozens of pictures in categories
of Visual development, Paintings and
moments.



The Characters is a huge photo gallery area
dedicated to 16 of the film's characters. Click
on each character to see a small handful of original
concept drawings of that individual. The characters
of John Silver and B.E.N. contain an additional slide
show as well as test footage. Be sure to look at
the "hook" footage for John Silver -- it contains
original Captain Hook animation from "Peter Pan"
mixed with added CG animation. A real treat!



In Animation we once again see the repeated
"hook" footage from the previous area, as well as
very short pieces on creating the character of
Delbert Doppler; creating a futuristic Long John
Silver cyborg with traditional and CG animation;
and an early pencil animation sequence.

Dimensional Staging contains an image gallery
devoted to color keys; a layout demonstration
that shows the different animated environments of
the film; a video segment called treasure planet
found
that gives us insight on the process of
creating and animating the planet and its core;
and yet another video segment of test footage that
shows us various lighting techniques used
in the film.

Merging 2D and 3D worlds takes a look at
the challenges of placing a 2D character in a 3D
environment. The processed is explained in three
short features called Pose camera, Effects
Animation
and a RLS Legacy 3D Tour that
gives you multiple tours of the ship from both
a technical and nautical standpoint. Finally,
there's a game for the kids called Treasure
Hunt
where one musk seek out hidden map balls
scattered across the ship.

In Music you'll find a music video
for John Rzeznik's (of the Goo Goo Dolls) "I'm Still
Here (Jim's Theme)"

Release contains two trailers (one teaser one
final) as well as a look at two original poster
designs for the film.



There are three deleted scenes introduced
by directors Ron Clements and John Musker, these
scenes include a prologue, an alternate ending,
and a scene that shows Jim working on his solar
surfing while interacting with a little alien
creature. Most of this footage is presented in
unfinished pencil animation form.

Intergalactic Space Adventures contains
material repeated from other areas, but includes
new material such as DisneyPedia: The life of
a pirate revealed
. Here, you'll discover the
pirate lore of Treasure Planet. From their flags
to their codes of conduct, kids and adults will
have a grand time learning a little bit about
pirates (length: approx. 12 minutes). Disney's
Animation Magic
, hosted by Roy Disney, takes
us through Disney's animation department as we learn
the basics of Disney animation. Some material is
repeated here from other areas, but there are some
new interviews with various Disney animators and
sculptures (length: approx. 14 minutes)

Finally, there is a wealth of Sneak peeks for
films such as Finding Nemo, Brother Bear, Atlantis:
Milo's Return, Stitch: The Movie, Bionicle, The Lion
King Special Edition, George of the jungle 2
and
Castle in the sky.


Final Thoughts



Though Treasure Planet lacks the charm of
many of Disney's most renowned titles, it still
is an enjoyable watch. This transfer is absolute
demo quality, showing off some of the most
stunning animation ever to come out of the studio.

Worth a purchase!


Release Date: April 29, 2003


All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality
 

Chris S

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I complete agree Ron. This film reminded me a lot of the Final Fantasy movie. It has great animation and is wonderful to look at but the story and characters just fall short.

Chris S.
 

Mike_S

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Nice review Ron. I know that this probably not on par with LION KING, but not a whole lot out there is. I'm really looking forward to this one. The animation sounds dazzling! Thanks for another top notch review.
 

TonyD

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i liked it. just watched it yesterday.
everything ron said is true, except i didnt think the story was that lacking.

there were some excellent veteran voices behind some of the characters.
including patrick magoohan(sp),emma thompson and roscoe lee brown.

i would have bought the 2 discer if it was made.

i also thought atlantis was a lot of fun to watch too.
 

Peter Overduin

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Well; from a Titan AE and Final Fantasy fanasorous, I will be getting this now. Hadn't planned on it, but once again Ron has compelled me to change my mind...

which, on another note leads me to say that one of the things that I most appreciate about the DVD format is the ability to accummulate titles without the wife noticing. After all, with over 300 on the shelf, what's another cm?
 

Tim Glover

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I think my expectations were low when we saw this in theaters during Thanksgiving...but we liked it. It kind of grew on me. Really liked Long John Silver's character.
 

Kenneth Cummings

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I will be picking this up. Disprite the blockoffice, I acually did want to see this, and while it no two disc set, it close enough in the goodies I would wanted anyway, so I will get it when it comes out. :D Thanks once again for the great review, Ron.
 

Andy Sheets

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i liked it. just watched it yesterday.
everything ron said is true, except i didnt think the story was that lacking.
Well, it's basically still Treasure Island. That's one of those classic stories where you might get a film version that's not as good as others, but it's almost impossible to totally screw it up :)
 

John Watson

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I was thinking of getting this.

Partly because there aren't any DVDs of TREASURE ISLAND that I want.

But sounds like I will enjoy this version :)
 

Jan Strnad

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I agree with Ron about the film up until the "worth buying" recommendation. Worth a rental, maybe, but it just fell so flat emotionally and comedically that we pretty much just sat in the theater and watched it in a kind of vegetative daze.

Compare Jim's character, for instance, with the much more enjoyable Lilo of Lilo and Stitch. Jim is supposed to be a real bad boy, always in trouble with the law, but what is his only crime? "Skateboarding" in a forbidden place. Lilo, on the other hand, really pushed the envelope for Disney: punched out another little girl, engaged in a raucous power struggle/hissy fit with her older sister, etc.

Disney just played it safe with Treasure Planet and, once you get beyond the stunning visuals, there's just not much there to engage a viewer, IMHO.

Jan
 

Stephen Orr

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I saw this at a .99 theater and regretted not seeing it in full blown Dolby/DTS at a first run. A must buy for me. Loved it.
 

Randy A Salas

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It seemed the studio knew they had a failure on their hands even before the film opened, thus, despite a $140 million budget, it waited until the last minute to hold press screenings, which critics usually take as a sign a film isn't very good. Even the film's promotional campaign was drastically scaled down.
The premiere of the film, which doubled as a press screening, was on Nov. 17, 2002 in Hollywood--10 days before the movie opened. Preview screenings followed across the country all that week. I saw it a week before it opened officially. Last-minute screenings that are scheduled to minimize critical fallout typically happen on the Thursday night before a Friday opening or not at all. The screening schedule of Treasure Planet was similar to that of most major films.

I haven't seen any reports that Disney scaled down its promotional budget, but the studio did spend nearly $40 million to market the film, according to the Los Angeles Times. That's a lofty marketing figure for any film. This is in addition to the $140 million to $150 million the film cost to produce. In hindsight, Disney said it probably mispent the marketing money by mischaracterizing the movie in its previews and targeting the wrong audience.
 

Steve Schaffer

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Am I the only one who really liked Atlantis?? I thought is was far superior to the usual animated Broadway musical we get from Disney and liked it much more than Hunchback of Notre Dame.

I will at least be renting Treasure Planet.
 

Matt Naglieri

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Am I the only one who really liked Atlantis??
No you're not alone. Unfortunately I missed both of them during their theatrical run but I finally got to see Treasure Planet this past weekend. I did enjoy it but it could have been better.

I think it had great potential but couldn't really find it's way. If you check out the deleted scenes on the disc you will see that the film was originally more adult oriented but they toned it down to be more "family" friendly.
 

Neil Joseph

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I will buy this sight unseen as I am sure my boys will like it and I will appreciate the visuals. I liked Atlantis and Final Fantasy so I should be ok.
 

Mark-W

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For those who have not heard, or forgot, Disney has stated they are not doing anymore 2 disc special editions of new animated films. Thus, anything released theatrically after Atlantis: The Lost Empire will be released on one DVD.


As for Treasure Planet, I liked it well enough, but it is my least favorite big-budget Disney animated film, and cannot imagine ever choosing to watch it with so many other great Disney animated films sitting on my shelves. The film went from okay to flat out irritating when they introduced the B.E.N character.

Gotta say I think it is only a rental except for those who have tykes at home who really want it...and I love Atlantis: The Lost Empire, so it is not a "sure thing must buy" those who enjoyed A:TLE but haven't seen Treasure Planet.

Mark
 

SimonI

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I saw Atlantis in the cinema and thought it was thoroughly spectacular - the cinemascope format worked well, especially at the bit when they first find Atlantis. Treasure Planet was good but not in the same league; Ron's reference to the "Jar Jar Binks character named B.E.N." was spot on and I'm sure he (it?) will become a major irritation on repeated viewings! Still, good to hear the disk is worth getting - I have it on pre-order from Amazon.ca.
 

Tony Scello

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I took my 5 year old son to see this last fall and he really enjoyed it. He's been asking me for months about when we will be able to watch it at home. I thought it was good but not great. I'm glad to hear that the disc is a winner since I'll be picking this one up.
 

Colin Jacobson

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Ron's reference to the "Jar Jar Binks character named B.E.N." was spot on and I'm sure he (it?) will become a major irritation on repeated viewings!
Maybe I'm alone here, but I really liked Martin Short's performance as B.E.N. - I thought he was very funny in the part...
 

LukeB

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Maybe I'm alone here, but I really liked Martin Short's performance as B.E.N. - I thought he was very funny in the part...
You're not alone! Though I'd imagine we're in the minority. I thought Short was really funny, as well. And a lot better than all the accented stock characters from Atlantis.
 

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