The concept is interesting: Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Treasure Island as a space-traveling future adventure. Some of the computer animation is handsome, and various amusing sidekicks add much-needed levity to the otherwise bleak tale, but overall the film never rises above mediocrity. As a toddler on the planet Montressor, Jim Hawkins (voiced by Joseph...read more
The concept is interesting: Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Treasure Island as a space-traveling future adventure. Some of the computer animation is handsome, and various amusing sidekicks add much-needed levity to the otherwise bleak tale, but overall the film never rises above mediocrity. As a toddler on the planet Montressor, Jim Hawkins (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was fascinated by the legend of Captain Flint, who supposedly hid his pirate loot on the mysterious Treasure Planet. As a teenager, Jim is a troublemaker whose causes no end of headaches for his mother, Sarah (Laurie Metcalf), who's run the Benbow Inn alone since her husband decamped. Then a stranger named Billy Bones (Patrick McGoohan) brings a treasure map into their lives. Sarah turns to dog-like family friend Dr. Delbert Doppler (David Hyde Pierce) for help, and the bumbling astrophysicist charters a ship, the RLS Legacy; the plan is to look for the treasure and, perhaps, instill a work ethic in the rebellious boy. Feline captain Amelia (Emma Thompson) and first officer Arrow (Roscoe Lee Browne) are stand-up sorts, but the crew is a very motley group of aliens indeed. Jim is suspicious of cyborg cook John Silver (Brian Murray), but the man-machine slyly manipulates the fatherless lad by playing father figure, then shows his true colors when Treasure Planet is in sight. Jim, Doppler and the captain barely escape Silver and his mutinous pirates, but find allies in marooned robot B.E.N. (Martin Short), who's a few memory chips short of a circuit board, and Silver's shapeshifting pet, Morph (Dane A. Davis). The oddest thing about this movie isn't that the familiar characters have been transformed into aliens, or that dogs and cats possess human traits: It's the odd sight of futuristic fantasy in 18th-century dress. The filmmakers have described their intention to evoke a future imagined by someone living in the 1700s (when Stevenson's novel was set), but the visual conceit doesn't have the obvious internal logic of, say, Disney's 2001 ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE, so the trappings are simply puzzling. The film also borrows liberally from other Disney pictures: Doppler strongly resembles Goofy; the whales gliding through space recall the Respighi sequence in FANTASIA 2000; and Morph's abilities seem to have been inspired in equal parts by ALADDIN's genie and THE ABSENT-MINDED PROFESSOR's flubber. On the plus side, independent Sarah and commanding Captain Amelia are nice additions petticoats may have made a resurgence in the future, but feminism hasn't taken a step backwards.
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