The Disney Marathon: ‘Treasure Planet’


For those just joining us, this is a movie marathon with a twist. Myself (cranky 30s blogger), my son Josh (stoic 9 year old Nintendo obsessive) and my daughter Amelia (drama llama 7 year old princess wannabe) are watching Disney movies in a random order and ranking them. We hope to see interesting differences in how we organise the lists.

Last time the Disney randomiser punished us with Chicken Little. We can only get better from here. Right?

Film: Treasure Planet

Released: 2002

Director: Ron Clements and John Musker

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brian Murray, Dvaid Hyde Pierce, Emma Thompson, Martin Short, Roscoe Lee Browne, Laurie Metcalf, Patrick McGoohan

Plot: Jim Hawkins comes into possession of a legendary treasure map and sets off across the galaxy in pursuit of riches. The quest becomes treacherous when it’s revealed that the crew on their ship plan to take the riches for themselves.

Review: Like Chicken Little in our previous outing, this is a movie I hadn’t yet seen. This will be true for much of the post-renaissance period, as few of them provided even motivation for a trip to the cinema. Treasure Planet did stand out for the art design at the very least, with a fun looking blend of CGI starry backgrounds and colourful hand-drawn Disney characters over the top.

It’s little wonder that it is somewhat fondly remembered but lacks the widespread popularity of the films from the previous decade. What we found on watching the movie is a real mixed bag. For every one aspect of the movie that I enjoyed there was at least one or two that fell flat. Let’s take a look at some of these contradictory elements.

John Silver (Murray) is a really good villain. He’s got a great cyborg design with continuously moving wheels and cogs on his head, arm and leg. They keep switching through different gadgets and it’s really well animated. The character is convincingly torn between his personal quest for the lost treasure and his newfound connect with cabin boy Jim Hawkins (Gordon-Levitt). On the flip side, Jim Hawkins is supposed to be the lead character but is the least interesting person on the screen. His personality extends only to his shitty early 2000s haircut and doing extreme sports. It was a generic and tired archetype at the time of release and that was almost 20 years ago.

Delivering the comic relief and the fun, marketable characters are Morph, a blob who can change shape, and B.E.N., a “whacky” robot voiced by Martin Short. As with our main characters, Morph is imaginative and fun while B.E.N. can be cut entirely from the movie without it losing anything. Actually, it would be substantially better. The CGI backgrounds and rich space scenes look amazing, but the CGI animals like the whales look ugly. Some of the CGI heavy action scenes have not held up well at all, but the same could be said for Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders and that doesn’t detract from the film at all.

Finally we can address the extreme sides of this dichotomy. The absolute best and the absolute worst that Treasure Planet can offer up. The best is, of course, the kick-ass Captain Amelia. This feline military figure has been gender swapped from the source material, but kept the hard-nosed, powerful leader attitude. She’s perfectly voiced by Emma Thompson and is delightful every time she appears on screen. The love story plot thread between her and the dog guy (Pierce) isn’t as terrible as expected, as they’re plenty of fun developing an affection for each other.

As awesome as Captain Amelia is, there’s one thing equally terrible and that is the soundtrack. We’re not talking about the score, that’s perfectly serviceable. We’re talking about the original songs written and performed by John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls. If you don’t remember, the Goo Goo Dolls are an abysmal one-hit wonder band known for the abysmal ‘I don’t want to the world to see me’ song from the abysmal Nicholas Cage remake of sublime German mood piece Wings of Desire, abysmally titled City of Angels. I hate that song. I hated it when it was clogging up TV and radio in 1998 and I hate it now. As soon as the earnest whinging started up I knew who it was, as the guy really is the angsty Chad Kroeger. That, and these original songs sound exactly like his other one known song. This is a long time to be complaining about this minor aspect of the movie, but it really brought the experience down.

This movie is almost perfectly equal parts good and bad. I guess we’re going to split the difference.

Best Song: Lol no.

Coolest Easter Egg: There’s a pair of fun Easter Eggs in this film. At the beginning you can spot a toy Stitch is a spacesuit in young Jim’s bedroom. Later, when the tiresome B.E.N. turns up, he recites a few lines from the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ ride, a popular attraction at the Disneyland parks.

Rating:

THE RANKING

ME

Click on the titles if you want to see what we said about these films!

  1. Big Hero 6
  2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  3. Emperor’s New Groove
  4. Fantasia
  5. Treasure Planet
  6. Chicken Little

AMELIA

Amelia really wasn’t feeling this movie during the first act. I was dark, full of monsters and very noisy. She straight up wanted to turn it off. A cupcake helped her stick it out long enough to get to Morphy, who she absolutely loved and forced me to draw fanart of Morphy becoming friends with Ditto. She also liked the name of the Captain. Obviously.

  1. Emperor’s New Groove
  2. Treasure Planet
  3. Big Hero 6
  4. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  5. Chicken Little
  6. Fantasia

JOSHUA

Like Amelia, Joshua felt that movie took a while to get going and didn’t engage with the material until they reached the moon-shaped space city. He really enjoyed that reveal. Joshua has already read Treasure Island and enjoy seeing how the characters were adapted to the sci-fi setting.

  1. Big Hero 6
  2. Emperor’s New Groove
  3. Treasure Planet
  4. Fantasia
  5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  6. Chicken Little