It has been 10 years since its release and Disney has decided to put it out on Blu-ray. While certainly not the most popular Disney film, Treasure Planet still offered up some great moments, especially on the technology side of animated filmmaking.
Has a decade of technological advances aged this film? Come find out.
From the directors of Disney’s Aladdin and The Little Mermaid comes a classic story of courage, friendship, and self-discovery. A secret map inspires a thrilling treasure hunt across the universe as young Jim Hawkins and his hilarious cosmic crew, headed by the daring Captain Amelia, set off in search of their destiny. Aboard a glittering space galleon, Jim meets the ship's cyborg cook, John Silver, who teaches him the value of friendship and the power of dreams. Jim soon teams up with his crazy new robot pal, B.E.N., and the shape-shifting Morph to discover a treasure greater than he ever imagined.
I might be in the minority here, but I thoroughly enjoyed this release 10 years ago and nothing has changed my mind since. Ron Clements and John Musker did a fantastic job with translating this old story to a futuristic setting. It certainly has a more serious tone than their previous works (Aladdin and The Little Mermaid), but the original story shouldn't be represented any other way.
The character development in the film in regards to Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and John Silver (Brian Murray) is very solid. You understand that Jim is very much fatherless and lost. Silver helps him along and guides him to some sort of pirate driven manhood. That relationship stands its ground when Jim finds out John's intentions on the voyage. That relationship carries this film, even when other things fail it. It's the most important element in the original story, and one of the sole reasons why I really enjoy this movie. I think the directors and actors understood the importance of this relationship and focused the majority of energy on it. In 2002, computers and animation were at its peak, so the could have been overshadowed by Disney's need to combine two mediums.
Thankfully, it didn't get in the way as much as it helped.
Treasure Planet isn't perfect, though. Some of the characters were completely useless and unnecessary. For example, Martin Short's B.E.N. was probably one of the most annoying characters I've had the displeasure of listening to in a film. I know he was written to be annoying and chatty to the other characters, bringing the comedy relief when needed. He definitely accomplished the annoying and chatty, and not so much comedy. He could have been nixed with another idea replacing him.
Another character who should have been revised a bit is David Hyde Pierce's Doctor Doppler. He had some amusing moments, but he needed more definition. His purpose was mainly to drive along the cool computer driven space scenes (such as the space whales). That's a bad purpose in the long run, especially when he falls for Emma Thompson's Captain Amelia. Because Doppler wasn't developed, we didn't feel anything in regards to his relationship with Amelia. There needed to be a stronger connection, and it would have been much better with grounded development behind him. Don't get me wrong, Jim should have the best development of the bunch, but all the characters surrounding him should have more developed backgrounds that make their purpose in the film logical.
Characters aside, the story in the film was well represented. It felt like a progressive adventure, much like the original book, and it certainly is a film you would watch again. I know there are better Disney films out there, but this one isn't bad. Critically it did moderately well, but the world was flying high on Pixar achievements and computer driven films. People may not have noticed that hand-drawn animation was still alive and kicking. It was the death of a medium that caused this movie to be viewed as bad, not the film itself.
Give it another go, as you'll probably find it surprisingly good, especially on Blu-ray.
Speaking of the Blu-ray, the film looks gorgeous. Disney did a heckuva job with the transfer, as you get zero grains, compression issues or otherwise. As with a good majority of Disney treasures that cross over to the HD world, Treasure Planet shows some beautiful colors, contrast and crispness to it visually. You will be wowed by the space whale scene, as it really does show off how good of a transfer this was.
The film has boasts a 5.1 DTS-HD soundtrack (it works well for a film of this type) and it comes at you in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio.
Finally, as for as special features go, here's what to expect:
- Visual Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- DisneyPedia: The Life of a Pirate Revealed
- Music Video
- RLS Legacy
- Virtual 3D Tour & Treasure Hunt
For a film that really was the beginning of the end of hand-drawn animation, this has some solid features. The visual commentary is solid, as is the deleted scenes. The DisneyPedia is very interesting, as kids will enjoy that. All in all, the special features work and compliment that feature film really well. Not bad at all for Treasure Planet's Blu-ray release.