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
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 95 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 29.99
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Review Date: July 1, 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!