HTF REVIEW: "Treasure Planet" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 19, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    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
    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
    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

    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


    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


    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
  2. Chris S

    Chris S Cinematographer

    Apr 9, 2000
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    Real Name:
    Chris S
    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.
  3. Mike_S

    Mike_S Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 1, 2000
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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.
  4. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

    Dec 1, 1999
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    Disney World and Universal Florida
    Real Name:
    Tony D.
    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.
  5. Peter Overduin

    Peter Overduin Supporting Actor

    Jun 30, 1997
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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?
  6. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

    Jan 12, 1999
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    Monroe, LA
    Real Name:
    Tim Glover
    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.
  7. Kenneth Cummings

    Kenneth Cummings Supporting Actor

    Aug 7, 2001
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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. [​IMG] Thanks once again for the great review, Ron.
  8. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

    Aug 6, 2000
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  9. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

    Jul 14, 2002
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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 [​IMG]
  10. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

    Jan 1, 1999
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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.

  11. Stephen Orr

    Stephen Orr Screenwriter

    Mar 14, 1999
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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.
  12. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

    Apr 25, 2002
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  13. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

    Apr 15, 1999
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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.
  14. Matt Naglieri

    Matt Naglieri Second Unit

    Jul 30, 2001
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  15. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

    Jan 16, 1998
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    Real Name:
    Neil Joseph
    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.
  16. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Cinematographer

    Jan 6, 1999
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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.

  17. SimonI

    SimonI Extra

    Oct 1, 2002
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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
  18. Tony Scello

    Tony Scello Second Unit

    Sep 8, 1999
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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.
  19. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

    Apr 19, 2000
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  20. LukeB

    LukeB Cinematographer

    Apr 26, 2000
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