Blu-ray Review Treasure Planet: 10th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

Matt Hough

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The Disney animators have brought another literary classic to the screen, albeit disguised in the robes of sci-fi, with Treasure Planet, a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson story Treasure Island with the expected (and sometimes witty) futuristic elements to give it something of a modern patina. There are some regrettable nods to modern comedic tastes (flatulence jokes) and characters who virtually scream ADHD, but in the main it’s a fine animated film adventure with a sterling voice cast and some brilliant and breathtaking animation.



Treasure Planet: 10th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by John Musker, Ron Clements

Studio: Disney
Year: 2002
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 95 minutes
Rating: PG
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French
Subtitles:  SDH, French, Spanish

Region: A-B-C
MSRP: $ 29.99


Release Date: July 3, 2012

Review Date: July 1, 2012




The Film

4/5


When teenaged Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) gains possession of an orb that shows the location of the vast treasure of Captain Flint long coveted by pirates and scoundrels around the galaxy, he and his friend Doctor Doppler (David Hyde Pierce) make plans to retrieve it by commissioning the R.L.S. Legacy headed by the feline Captain Amelia (Emma Thompson) and heading off into space. Little do they know that the crew is made up of pirates led by a dastardly buccaneer masquerading as ship’s cook John Silver (Brian Murray). The fatherless Jim bonds with Silver on the voyage, and even when they land, he finds it hard to be angry with his friend even after he learns of his true identity and his plans to take the treasure for himself.


The adaptation of the original novel has been handled by co-directors Ron Clements and  John Musker in addition to Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. They’ve relied on a 70/30 split on keeping the larger part of the tale period looking and the smaller percentage sci-fi in nature. Thus, the crew is a mixture of humans and aliens, Silver is a cyborg with animatronic features replacing human elements, the marooned Ben Gunn becomes B.E.N., a robot missing some memory circuits, Silver’s parrot becomes an ectoplasmic blob called Morph, so on. Those familiar with the original book will have an easier time piecing together the disparate elements of the story than those with no knowledge of it (or the many movie versions and other freakish adaptations which preceded this one). There’s a fair degree of wit in the writing even if the brooding, outsider teenaged protagonist is overly familiar; the bond between him and Silver is still a tender and affecting one, and the Disney animators have drawn the duo (and all of the other characters for that matter) magnificently. In fact, the film mixes traditional flat animation within three dimensional worlds so beautifully that it’s easy to understand why the movie earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature in 2002 (it lost to Spirited Away). As for the couple of missteps, there’s a song sequence in the middle of the picture “I’m Still Here” which offers a montage of Jim’s disappointment with his father contrasted with his growing attachment to John Silver that stops the movie dead in its tracks. The character of B.E.N. is overly rambunctious and initially off-putting even though it’s clear he’s meant to be lovably innocent instead of loudly obnoxious. But neither of these damage the central story or the interesting relationships between the characters.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt does an excellent job playing the sometimes bratty but always sensitive Jim, and Brian Murray is his equal as the gregarious and calculating Silver. Emma Thompson has a field day enunciating her crisply British putdowns and forceful commands as Amelia, and David Hyde Pierce is her polar opposite, the klutzy, insecure professorial-type who’s smitten quickly. Michael Wincott is evil personified as the spider-like villain Scroop while Roscoe Lee Browne is tart efficiency and professionalism as first mate Mr. Arrow. Martin Short’s overboard antics as B.E.N. make Robin Williams in Aladdin seem almost sluggish in comparison, but he’s undoubtedly giving the filmmakers exactly what they wanted and makes a Ben Gunn which some of today's hyper younger generation can easily identify with.



Video Quality

4.5/5


The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1 is faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. The vivid color palette of the animation is fiercely reproduced without the bright, bold oranges and blues ever becoming noisy. Black levels are rich and deep, and only some slight banding in the blue and buff backgrounds rob the transfer of a reference quality score. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.



Audio Quality

4.5/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix offers near reference quality sound for a very bombastic audio track. The symphonic score by James Newton Howard gets glorious play in the surround soundstage, and ambient effects are used wisely in the fronts and rears but not in as quantitative degree as in other films of this period. Bass is deeply rich in the mix, and dialogue has been superbly recorded and is always easily understandable placed in the center channel.



Special Features

4/5


The audio commentary brings together producer Roy Conli, directors John Musker and Ron Clements, lead animators Glen Keane and John Hanna, art director Andy Gaskill, and others to comment on every aspect of the filmmaking. The liner notes mention a video commentary, but the disc houses only an audio commentary albeit a very interesting and informative one and one not burdened by having so many people in the room commenting on the movie.


All of the video features are presented in 480i.


The bonus features section is introduced by actress Laurie Metcalf who plays Jim’s mother in the movie. She also introduces each of the special sections on various departments of making the movie (see below). Her introduction here runs 1 minute.


A Legacy virtual tour is divided into two sections: the technical tour of the sets is by visual coordinator Neil Eskuri and runs for 9 ½ minutes. The nautical aspects of the set are discussed by art director Andy Gaskill and run for 7 ¾ minutes.


“Disneypedia: The Life of a Pirate Revealed” discusses six topics involving pirates in its 12 ¼-minute running time: pirate definitions, flags, real pirates, codes of conduct, ships, and modern treasures.


“Disney Animation Magic” is a featurette hosted by Roy Disney which discusses various aspects of the film by a host of crew members and includes a deleted scene. It runs 14 ¼ minutes. All of the material in this featurette (apart from Roy Disney’s introductions) can be found in various departmental featurettes below.


There are three deleted scenes each introduced by directors John Musker and Ron Clements. They may be watched individually or in one 6 ½-minute grouping.


Various aspects of the film are discussed in brief snippet featurettes, each with an introduction by Laurie Metcalf. They are:


  • Story – introduction (1 minute), trailer for the 1950 Treasure Island (2 ¼ minutes)
  • Music – introduction (1 ½ minutes), music video “I’m Still Here” by John Rzeznik (4 ¼ minutes)
  • Art Design – introduction (¾  minute), The Brandywine School (2 ½ minutes), 70/30 rule (1 ¾ minutes)
  • Characters – introduction (1 minute), John Silver/Captain Hook test (1 minute), arm test ( ½ minute), B.E.N. intro ( ¾ minute), 3D/2D world (1 minute), maquettes (3 ¼ minutes)
  • Animation – introduction (1 ¼ minutes), Delbert Doppler (1 ¼ minutes), John Silver progressive animation (2 ½ minutes), pencil animation/Amelia’s cabin (2 ¼ minutes), rough animation to final comparison (1 ¾ minutes)
  • Dimensional Staging – introduction (1 ¼ minutes), effects animation (1 ¼ minutes), pose camera (1 ¾ minutes), layout demonstrations (1 ¼ minutes), Treasure Planet found (2 ¼ minutes), lighting (1 ¼ minutes)
  • Release – introduction ( ½ minute), teaser trailer (1 ½ minutes), theatrical trailer (2 ¼ minutes)

The disc offers promo trailers for The Odd Life of Timothy Green and Cinderella.


The second disc in the set is the DVD version of the movie.



In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)


Beautifully animated and wonderfully acted, Disney’s Treasure Planet redo of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic only now in outer space is a fun adventure film. The Blu-ray features quality video and audio and has ported over previous bonus features from its prior release. Recommended!



Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC

 
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Craig S

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I remember being very pleasantly surprised by this when we saw it ten years ago, given the fairly poor reviews it received. I thought the characters were engaging, and it was beautifully animated - some of the visuals in space were jaw-dropping. Glad to hear it has received a nice upgrade to Blu. Just waiting for a good sale price to pick it up.

Thanks for the review, Matt!
 

Todd Erwin

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In the eyes of Disney executives, this was the John Carter of its day, with the studio writing it off literally days after it hit screens.
 

Ejanss

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Toddwrtr said:
In the eyes of Disney executives, this was the John Carter of its day, with the studio writing it off literally days after it hit screens.
It was the John Carter in that it was a good movie singlehandedly sabotaged by THE....WORST....marketing in the studio's history.
Unfortunately, unlike Carter, nobody blamed the marketing back then, and nobody lost their job over it. (Except for most of the entire animation staff, but that was later.) See, back then, everyone lived in fear of why Finding Nemo had made all that money and Final Fantasy, Atlantis and Titan AE hadn't (no, seriously, Titan AE's flop baffled them...), and was hoping to manufacture the first trumped-up evidence they could find of "2-D animation is dead!" to explain why Dreamworks' "Spirit" and all those cable-network movies like "Hey, Arnold", "Teacher's Pet" and "Powerpuff Girls" were dropping like flies.
The first answer, to satisfy the FF/Atlantis/Titan question, was "Audiences must not like serious action animateds!" So, thrilling scenes of spaceports and rocket-surfing in the trailer were turned into TV ads of wacky pratfalls and goony Martin Short shticks. You couldn't pay audiences to go see it.
(Oh, and then, like John Carter vs. Hunger Games, put it in theaters one week after Harry Potter 2--and 007--and blamed it for not coming in first.)
And yes, Eisner pulled it out of theaters before December as an apology to the end-quarter stockholder's meeting, but Nickelodeon's "WIld Thornberries Movie" stayed around in theaters till January, and it was then that studios first noticed, sayyyy, family films seem to do better if you LEAVE THEM IN theaters over Christmas vacation week...
 

Craig S

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John Carter said:
/t/321931/treasure-planet-10th-anniversary-edition-blu-ray-review#post_3944296
Yep. It also didn't help that The Two Towers came out that December (which famously trounced Star Trek: Nemesis at the box office).
I dunno, I think Nemesis would have failed all on its own even if it only been up against Gigli. It was easily the worst TNG film, and is in a tight battle with ST V as the worst Trek film overall.
 

Ejanss

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Brandon Conway said:
Yep. It also didn't help that The Two Towers came out that December (which famously trounced Star Trek: Nemesis at the box office).
Nemesis failed by itself (with a little help from Insurrection two years before)--Treasure wasn't even in theaters by that point.
But to add to Treasure's theatrical miseries:
- Because Harry and 007 had the middle of November tied up, and Treasure had Thanksgiving onwards, Disney ended up releasing "Santa Clause 2" in the first week of November as "cannon fodder", and...they didn't expect it to be quite as popular as it was. (Thus leading studios to discover that the first week in November is one of the prime weekends of the year, especially if you have a Christmas-themed movie.) And Treasure's opening now had THREE killer-competition entries, including the studio competing with itself, and everyone gasped that it opened fourth.
- Studios also discovered that opening a movie on Thanksgiving wasn't as hot an idea as it used to be, since the first three weeks of December are some of the worst B.O. opening weekends of the year. (Up to week 50, two weeks before Christmas, which has had more famous flops per capita than any other week, "Princess & the Frog" included.) Mostly because most theaters were now in shopping malls, and no parent wants to go to a shopping mall between Black Friday and Christmas unless absolutely necessary. That may not affect a teen or adult movie, but kids don't buy their own tickets or park their own cars.
- Disney couldn't make head or tails of "Lilo & Stitch" as a feature animated, and tried releasing it in the summer to sell the surfing and get it out of the way early--That one also turned out to be a little more popular than estimated, fans were still buzzing about the movie in September, and even though they'd shown the trailer, most literally didn't even notice there was a major-studio entry for November.
- Not to mention, the anti-Eisner feeling was starting to reach a boiling point, and after the flops of Hunchback, Pocahontas and Hercules, audiences were ready to tar and feather the next "traditional" Disney animated that showed up, and Lilo's "lovable weirdness" created literally a cult of angry Disney fans who believed Disney should empty the studio and let Chris Sanders only do lovably-weird idiosyncratic pet projects from now on. (To go with the Shrek cult that saw the Stitch-crashes-Lion-King teasers for Lilo and thought "Disney should be more satirical and self-referential about their outdatedness!") When Treasure had its box-office stumble, a cheer of "Serves them (bleep)in' RIGHT!" rose up from the fans, and they went off to punish "Home on the Range" a year later for not shutting down the studio.
...John Carter had it easy.
 

Jason_V

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Originally Posted by Ejanss /t/321931/treasure-planet-10th-anniversary-edition-blu-ray-review#post_3944325
Nemesis failed by itself (with a little help from Insurrection two years before)--Treasure wasn't even in theaters by that point.
Amen. There really isn't a way that movie ever could have been successful with the story it was saddled with, regardless of the competition.

I'm really excited to see Treasure Planet again. It was one of those Disney movies I always wanted a two-disc Collector's Edition version of (like Atlantis, Tarzan, Dinosaur, The Emperor's New Groove) but it never materialized. That always shocked me, at least a little bit, since Disney put together impressive CE's back in the day. Lots of good memories tracking them down during summer at college and discovering movies on disc I was too "mature" to see in the theater.
 

Colin Jacobson

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Brandon Conway said:
/t/321931/treasure-planet-10th-anniversary-edition-blu-ray-review#post_3944325
Nemesis failed by itself (with a little help from Insurrection two years before)--Treasure wasn't even in theaters by that point.
??? "Nemesis" came out 12/13/02, while "Planet" came out 11/27 - more than two weeks before "Nemesis".

And "Insurrection" came out 4 years before "Nemesis", not 2...
 

Colin Jacobson

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Originally Posted by Ejanss /t/321931/treasure-planet-10th-anniversary-edition-blu-ray-review#post_3944234
And yes, Eisner pulled it out of theaters before December as an apology to the end-quarter stockholder's meeting, but Nickelodeon's "WIld Thornberries Movie" stayed around in theaters till January, and it was then that studios first noticed, sayyyy, family films seem to do better if you LEAVE THEM IN theaters over Christmas vacation week...
??? You claim that Disney pulled "Planet" from theaters before December? It opened 11/27 - that would've meant it got yanked after TWO DAYS!

That didn't happen. "Planet" didn't make much money, but it stayed in theaters for a while. Heck, it was still at a local first-run multiplex in January 2003 - that's when/where I saw it!
 

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Treasure Planet is just... kinda... there. In the era it was released into (the so-called "Disney Dumb Age" which began more or less with Pocahontas), its neither the worst (the afore-mentioned Pocahontas and Home on the Range) or the best (Lilo and Stitch). Its just...watchable. A grand idea by Clements and Musker (seriously they were originally trying to do this instead of Aladdin in 1992!) that ultimately seems to fall way short of its ambition. Watchable, and at times somewhat enjoyable. That's not much praise.
 

Ejanss

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Colin Jacobson said:
???  You claim that Disney pulled "Planet" from theaters before December?  It opened 11/27 - that would've meant it got yanked after TWO DAYS!
That didn't happen.  "Planet" didn't make much money, but it stayed in theaters for a while.  Heck, it was still at a local first-run multiplex in January 2003 - that's when/where I saw it!
It was pulled from wide release status by order from the top after the headlines, in exactly the way "Mars Needs Moms" was after theirs, but it fell into second-run and lingered there a while. Many who saw it at that age likely DID see it over Christmas school vacation, a fact Fox later discovered with the Alvin & the Chipmunks movies.
Jason_V said:
I'm really excited to see Treasure Planet again. It was one of those Disney movies I always wanted a two-disc Collector's Edition version of (like Atlantis, Tarzan, Dinosaur, The Emperor's New Groove) but it never materialized. That always shocked me, at least a little bit, since Disney put together impressive CE's back in the day. Lots of good memories tracking them down during summer at college and discovering movies on disc I was too "mature" to see in the theater.
Unfortunately, as good an edition as it might've been, nobody bought the Atlantis or Dinosaur CE's (for obvious reasons), and after horrible sales for the collector's Atlantis, EIsner ordered "No more 2-disks!", shutting down the 2-disk Lilo & Stitch in production. (We didn't get it for another nine years.)
Treasure was just too late, and got as little of the Making-of and Deleted Scenes as would fit on a 1-disk...That's pretty much what we're getting on the Blu.
 

Colin Jacobson

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Originally Posted by Ejanss /t/321931/treasure-planet-10th-anniversary-edition-blu-ray-review#post_3944606
It was pulled from wide release status by order from the top after the headlines, in exactly the way "Mars Needs Moms" was after theirs, but it fell into second-run and lingered there a while.
Again, I saw it at a FIRST-RUN theater weeks later - not second-run.

And there's just no way it was yanked from first-run screens after two days. If you can find documentation of this, I'll say I was wrong, but it makes no sense that they would've literally pulled the movie from release after 48 hours!
 

Peter Apruzzese

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Opening week theatre count: 3227
Second week theatre count: 3227
Third week: 2192
Fourth & 5th week: 1414
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekly&id=treasureplanet.htm
 

Colin Jacobson

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Originally Posted by Peter Apruzzese /t/321931/treasure-planet-10th-anniversary-edition-blu-ray-review#post_3944616
Opening week theatre count: 3227
Second week theatre count: 3227
Third week: 2192
Fourth & 5th week: 1414
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekly&id=treasureplanet.htm
Thanks for that. Obviously the # of theaters dropped a lot by the third week, but there's no evidence the movie was "yanked". It didn't move tickets, it was a busy time of the year, it got replaced by new releases.

No grand scheme by Eisner to remove the movie as far as I can see...
 

Peter Apruzzese

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Colin Jacobson said:
Thanks for that.  Obviously the # of theaters dropped a lot by the third week, but there's no evidence the movie was "yanked".  It didn't move tickets, it was a busy time of the year, it got replaced by new releases.
No grand scheme by Eisner to remove the movie as far as I can see...
Exactly. What they did was allow multiplexes to drop extra prints after the first full week, which they usually didn't if the film was a hit. First run contracts would generally have required a 3 to 4 week guaranteed run in at least one auditorium.
 

Ejanss

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Peter Apruzzese said:
Exactly. What they did was allow multiplexes to drop extra prints after the first full week, which they usually didn't if the film was a hit. First run contracts would generally have required a 3 to 4 week guaranteed run in at least one auditorium.
Again, they made a big announcement of doing the same thing for "Mars Needs Moms", which didn't instantly disappear from cineplexes, but if the studio had publicly disowned continuing the theatrical release, it wouldn't be around much longer, except at theater owners' discretion.
With both Moms and Treasure, the announcement had to be made as immediately as possible, as a gesture to stockholders to show the studio was on top of the situation and plugging losses. (Normally, Moms would have had Robert Zemeckis fired, except that...he already had been, after "Christmas Carol"'s losses.)
John Carter didn't officially get a public studio disowning--as Rich Ross got the chop instead, and that seemed to please everyone--but the studio did pull the promotion after the first two weeks and left it to word of mouth to cover the rest.
 

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Ejanss said:
John Carter didn't officially get a public studio disowning--as Rich Ross got the chop instead, and that seemed to please everyone--but the studio did pull the promotion after the first two weeks and left it to word of mouth to cover the rest.
Outside of big hits, are there that many movies where they keep promoting them after two weeks? And in the case of a massive money loser like John Carter, why would they continue to waste money on promoting it? What are the ads going to say "The movie that you weren't interested in before you heard it was a huge money loser and now, you're even less interested in is still in theaters!"? :)
I saw John Carter and it's OK but the idea that its failure can be blamed all on its ad campaign doesn't ring very true to me. It probably could have done better with different marketing but the movie wasn't particularly good and I don't think putting 'Of Mars' in the title (or whatever the internet armchair movie authorities that know more than people who actually work in marketing know say) would have saved it from its lousy gross or generated much interest from the public who didn't care about it.
 

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