Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #43: Treasure Planet

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

***

Occasionally, before beginning a review, I will don a simple disguise and mingle with the common folk of the Disney fandom. “Tell me good sirrah,” I might enquire of some good-hearted peasant in a small, provincial internet forum “What do the people think of Lilo and Stitch?”.
“Why sir, it is rightly lauded as a most wondrous film and much beloved.”
“And the Unshaved Mouse? I have heard that he is a reviewer of passable skill?”
“Passable skill? By thunder sir, he is a very God amongst the reviewing class, and most sorely do I wish he were here, that I might shake his hand.”
“Mayhap he is closer than you think, good pleb” I would say with a benevolent smile. I would then toss him a Bitcoin to see the light of thanks in his eyes, and be on my way.
My point is, I try to take the pulse of where we as a fandom are on a particular film and what I found with Treasure Planet made me a little worried. A cursory glance at the internet shows that this thing has a healthier fanbase than many other movies in the canon. Lots of fanart and fanfiction, plenty of people willing to fly the “Lost Classic” banner, some of the most soul scarring motherfucking Jim/Silver porn you have ever seen in your life that I can now never unsee for as long as I live…
But on the flip side…
Facebook
Yeah, so there is a lot of hate for this thing out there. Robert Louis Stevenson purists, animation nerds who blame it for the death of traditional Disney animation, people who just flat out hate it as a movie, Somalis who were suckered into a life of piracy by the unrealistic portrayal in the movie…
These men were promised robots.

These young men were promised robots.

This movie has made more enemies than Boba Fett. And this puts me in a tough position because when it comes to Treasure Planet I fall into the controversial camp of: ”Meh. ‘Sfine.”
Treasure Planet was actually originally pitched by Ron Clements and Jon Musker all the way back in 1985 but it was passed over in favour of Little Mermaid which…yeah, probably the right call. I was surprised to learn that this was a Clements and Musker film because it feels a lot more like something by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, particularly AtlantisClements and Musker were actually happy for the delay because by the time they got a chance to make it the technology had caught up with their vision for the film. And I’ve got to say this up front; this film is gorgeous. In fact, almost all the Lost Era movies are. The quality of the movies may have gone down after the renaissance, sure, but if anything the animation just kept getting better and better. Let’s take a look.
***
Okay, so Treasure Island is not exactly an obscure work. Written by Robert Louis Stevenson in the late eighteen hundreds it’s become one of the most popular works in all of English literature. And with good cause, it’s a kick ass book with lots of suspense and brilliant characters that pretty much created the idea of the pirate as he now exists in popular culture. It’s the kind of yarn that is just begging for the big screen treatment. Which it has gotten, ooh, around fifty times by now? I’m serious, this is not even the first Disney adaptation of this book, the very first all-live action Disney movie was 1950’s Treasure Island starring Robert Newton and ohhhhh Christ…
Hello again, Bobby.

Hello again, Bobby.

Stop following me, kid. So yeah, the biggest challenge of any Treasure Island adaptation is how to find a fresh take on this extremely well-worn tale. What can you do with Treasure Island that no one has ever done before? Simple. Set it in space. No one has ever done that before!
No one you've ever heard about, certainly.

No one you’ve ever heard about, certainly.

The movie begins with a very solid attempt at getting in my good books: it has opening narration by Tony Jay. Now, this movie certainly has its flaws but one complaint I hear levelled against it simply doesn’t hold up; that it’s scientifically inaccurate. I’m actually serious. This movie is one of the most scientifically accurate science fiction movies ever made. Don’t believe me? It all comes down to the very first line in the movie:

“On the clearest of nights, when the winds of the aetherium were calm and peaceful…”

See, this movie is not set in our universe. It’s set in the aetherium which has its own scientific laws (namely that people can breathe in outer space and spiders are assholes). Jay recounts the tale of Captain Flint, a merciless pirate who plundered merchant ships throughout the spaceways.

"Doo yoo fare dayth?"

“Doo yoo fare dayth?”

We watch as his crew launches an attack against a ship full of Georgian Wig Wearing Turtle People (my favorite Saturday morning cartoon from the eighties, incidentally) and there’s an epic battle. Now, Treasure Planet uses a lot of CGI which of course always runs the risk of leaving the movie looking dated as effects technology moves on. Throughout the film the various vessels are rendered with computer graphics while the characters that crew them are done in good old fashioned traditional animation. Honestly, I think the effects here hold up very well. Not that the ships are not immediately recognisable as CGI, but that’s not the point. The movie isn’t going for photo-realism anymore than the traditionally animated characters are supposed to look realistic. Instead, the CGI is put to work trying to create a science fiction movie that looks more like the paintings of Brandywine artists like  NC Wyeth and I think they did a superb job.

I mean, Jesus, look at this.

I mean, Jesus, look at this.

The battle is cut short however by the sudden appearance of a massive child who towers over both vessels!

"Avast ye swabs! TODDLER KRAKEN TO PORT!"

“Avast ye swabs! TODDLER KRAKEN TO PORT!”

It turns out that all this is just a holo-book being read by little Jim Hawkins. His mother enters his bedroom and tells him that he should have been asleep an hour ago but he begs her to read the story to him. She relents, saying “Oh! Could those eyes get any bigger?” (He’s a Disney character. No. No they could not). Sarah Hawkins (Laurie Metcalf) was animated by Jared Beckstrand and Rick Kohlschmidt and the highest praise I can give to their work here is that I thought she was done by Glen Keane. There’s a real sense of an older, wiser and maybe cooler Ariel about her and her interactions with baby Jim are really charming.

Okay, so fast forward twelve years and Jim is now a teenage rebel with a cool hairdo and a problem with authority and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…sorry, my “z” key got gummed up with melted cheese from my sandwich and also this is a really tired, stock character type. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they did a bad job with the character of Jim. Joseph Gordon Levitt is fine in the part and he’s not obnoxious or anything but it’s just been done. It’d been done before this movie, it’d be done again after. Jim is out on his solar surfboard doing all kinds of radical and dangerous things because he doesn’t care about your rules, man when he gets arrested and brought home by robot cops and wait just a damn minute here!

Oh my God. Abrams you whore!

Oh my God. Abrams you whore!

At the Benbow Inn Sarah is getting dinner for the guests and gets talking to Doctor Delbert Doppler, a dog-faced alien voiced by David Hyde Pierce. She says that things were tough with Jim for a while but he seems to have gotten his act together. Cue the police dragging her son in front of all the patrons and telling her that this is his last chance and next time he’s going straight to space juvie. Sarah gives Jim the guilt trip special while he sullenly clears the tables. Originally, the scene was going to be Sarah turning around to give Jim the lecture only to realise that he’d already slipped out when she wasn’t looking, but they decided they didn’t want him to be that much of a dick.

I mean, who does he think he is, Batman?

I mean, who does he think he is, Batman?

Later Jim is brooding on the roof (oh man, he’s so troubled and brooding but maybe I could fix him?) and overhears Sarah talking to Doppler about how Jim’s just been unmanageable since his father left home. Jim then looks up to see a spacecraft crashing near the Benbow and runs to check it out because, hey, he might get one of those cool Green Lantern rings. Inside the ship is a wounded turtle alien named Billy Bones voiced by Patrick McGoohan. Bones stumbles out of the ship and whispers “They’s a ‘comin! Can you hear him? Those gears and gyros clicking and humming like the devil hisself!”

futurama_robot_devil_violin

Bones tells him that “The Cyborg” is after his chest and Jim helps him get to the Benbow where he promptly dies from his wounds, but not before giving Jim a small round orb. Suddenly the inn is attacked by pirates and Jim, Sarah and Doppler only barely manage to escape before the whole place goes up in flames. On whole this is a pretty good opening act, nicely condensing the first few chapters of the book into around ten minutes. There is some good stuff that gets lost though. I especially would have loved to see a sci-fi take on Blind Pew, one of the scariest motherfuckers in all of children’s literature.

FUCKING YES.

FUCKING YES.

Okay so they hide out in Delbert’s manor and Jim manages to unlock the sphere which turns out to be a holo map to Treasure Planet. Jim decides they should go on a treasure hunt so that they can use the money to rebuild the Inn. Sarah’s dubious, but Doppler convinces her by saying “Hell, you’ve tried everything else to get Jim to straighten up. Why not the unfathomable dangers of deep space?” We now get an absolutely jaw dropping transition shot where they’re looking out of the window at the crescent moon and…hell, just look for yourselves.

No words...should have sent a poet...

No words…should have sent a poet…

So Jim and Doppler go wandering around the gorgeously realised space port and find their ship, the RLS Legacy (not the Hispaniola like in the book because why would aliens name a ship after a Caribbean island?). Jim and Doppler meet the ship’s first mate, a massive rock monster called Mr Arrow who’s voiced magisterially by Roscoe Lee Browne and who comes across like a very genteel Ben Grimm.

"Lest there be any doubt on the matter allow me to be unambigous. Clobbering time is imminent."

“Lest there be any doubt on the matter allow me to be unambiguous. Clobbering time is imminent.”

We also meet the ship’s captain, Amelia, voiced by Emma Thompson and hands down my favorite character in this thing. The original book is kind of a sausage fest so the filmmakers decided to gender flip Captain Smollett and also species flip while they were at it. Amelia is a cat-like alien and Thompson has an absolute blast with her. She’s probably the funniest character in the movie. Doppler and Amelia don’t really get along (cats, dogs what are you gonna do?) and she berates him for mentioning the treasure map in front of the crew who seem to consist entirely of space monsters, thugs, mutants, scoundrels and okay, who hired this crew?!

Ah.

Ah.

Amelia pretty much lays down the law then and there, Jim will address her as “Captain or Ma’am” , the map will be kept under lock and key when not in use and Doppler is to “shut your howling screamer.” She then tells Jim that on this ship, you work, and sends him down to work in the galley for the cook.

Alright, so let’s talk about Long John Silver. The Silver of the novel is one of the all time great villains of literature, a wonderful and surprisingly complex creation. Whereas most children’s literature of the period featured one-dimensional villains, Stevenson dared to make Silver likeable and even admirable in a way. He is an irresistibly charming figure, easily overcoming Jim’s suspicions of him and becoming a surrogate father to the boy, before his role as the leader of the mutiny is revealed. He’s dangerous, but  also courageous, and does possess a sense of loyalty. The relationship between Jim and Silver is the heart of any good Treasure Island adaptation and unfortunately this is the movie’s big flaw for me. It’s Silver is just not that great.

He's more like Nickel. (Note. You're tired. Go to bed. That joke sucked.)

He’s more like Nickel. (Note. You’re tired. Go to bed. That joke sucked.)

Voice actor Brian Murray certainly isn’t terrible but he delivers his lines in this kind of sing-song pseudo Irishy accent that makes me want to put my head in a mousetrap. Also, I’m just not really that gone on the character design, which to me kind of looks like Governor Ratcliffe if he let himself go and was then assimilated by the Borg. Oh yeah, the cyborg thing, let’s talk about that. So I’ve already mentioned how in this movie the technology is rendered in CGI and the organic characters are done in traditional animation. Silver however is a cyborg (not a one legged man like in the original) and whereas his organic components are done in cel animation his robot arms and leg are done by computer. I will admit it’s a cool visual and work’s well. To test the process, the animators took some animation from Peter Pan and grafted a robot arm onto Captain Hook.
Sadly, this is actually the least egregious alteration Disney has ever made to James Hook.

Sadly, this is actually the least awful alteration Disney has ever made to James Hook.

We also meet Morph, a floating ball of red snot who acts as Silver’s pet. Jim is naturally suspicious of Silver because of Billy Bones’ warning and expertly probes him for information, saying stuff like “Hmmm…these fruit are like the ones we had on my homeplanet. Montressor. You ever murder a pirate and blow up an inn on Montressor?” but Silver plays coy, saying that Bones must have meant a different cyborg because “There’s a slew of cyborgs roamin’ this port.” And ain’t that the truth?

Comin' over here. Assimilatin' our jobs.

Comin’ over here. Assimilatin’ our jobs.

Well anyway, the ship launches and Silver puts Jim to work cleaning the deck (urge to make a “poop deck” joke rising, rising, rising aaaaaaand it’s gone) and Jim starts to notice something a little unusual about this crew. Particularly, they have an odd habit of gathering in little groups, casting furtive glances and whispering what sounds like “Mumble mumble mumble BLOODY MUTINY mumble mumble EAT THE CABIN BOY mumble mumble.” Jim makes the mistake of talking sass to Mr Scroop, a terrifying alien spider voiced by Michael Wincott but Silver saves him at the last minute. But later Silver confronts the crew and reveals that he is actually planning a mutiny!

Alright, so you all knew that. Silver tears the crew a new one for jeopardising the mission but Scroop snarls that the boy was sniffing around. Silver tells Scroop to know his damn role and says “As for the boy, I’ll run him so ragged he won’t have time to think.” and that’s reminded me of the Jim/Silver porn and now I have to go and look at a meadow for a while, excuse me.
Sometimes...sometimes it all just becomes too much.

Sometimes…sometimes it all just becomes too much.

A few hours later it’s night…in…space…

Okay, I may have been overstating the case with this movie’s scientific accuracy. Jim thanks Silver for saving him and Silver asks him if his father never taught him to pick his fights more carefully. And Jesus, Silver, c’mon. This kid might as well have DADDY, WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME? shaved into the back of his stylish non-conformist hairdo because he’s a rebel and everyone else is just a fucking sheep. So Silver takes Jim under his wing resolves to teach him the ropes, which is done in a montage to the song I’m Still Here written and performed  by Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, who coincidentally also did the soundtrack to my entire miserable adolescence.

Don't judge me. It was the nineties. All pop music was terrible. Not like today!

Don’t judge me. It was the nineties. All pop music was terrible. Not like today!

 This is probably my latent emo bias showing but I actually quite like this song and I think this whole sequence is actually pretty damn effective. The scenes of Jim and Silver bonding are nicely done (it may help that it’s all wordless and Murray’s annoying accent isn’t a problem for once). It’s also intercut with flashbacks to Jim’s childhood where his father abandoned the family which is pretty damn harsh. I actually think Disney deserve credit for breaking new ground here. I don’t think we’ve ever seen an absent dad who doesn’t die but simply abandons his wife and children oh wait…

Never mind.

Never mind.

This gets cut short though when a nearby star goes supernova and the ship has to navigate away from the explosion and avoid all the flaming rocks that come shooting out of the supernova which then instantly collapses into a black hole and okay, okay, okay, this movie pisses on the grave of Science’s mother. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Amelia tells Jim to secure the ropes holding all the crewmembers to the ship (c’mon guys, at least call them “space ropes” or something) but Arrow gets swept overboard. His rope holds but Scroop murders Arrow by cutting the rope because he was too difficult for the animators to draw he was getting close to uncovering the mutiny.

LAZY BASTARD SPACE KOOKABURRAS!

LAZY BASTARD SPACE KOOKABURRAS!

Scroop tells Amelia that Arrow’s line wasn’t secured but Jim protests that he checked the line. Amelia is devastated by Arrow’s death and retreats to her cabin while the rest of the difficult to animate characters look at each other nervously and wonder who’s next.

Jim in inconsolable, blaming himself for Arrow’s death but Silver tries to buck him, reminding him that if it wasn’t for him half the crew would be doing the Sandra Bullock right now. Silver tells Jim that he has the makings of greatness in him and gives him a hug. Now, the thing is, Silver is not faking this. And this is actually another first in the Disney canon, a villain who genuinely cares about the hero and doesn’t want him to come to harm. I keep comparing this movie to Atlantis in my head but honestly, this is the better of the two. Atlantis was a noble failure, Treasure Planet is more a noble partial success (apologies to everyone who was excited for BLOOD!!!). I can see what they were aiming for with both movies, but Treasure Planet actually gets there at least some of the time. There are good character moments, and even a few good characters and the plot is much stronger too (mind you, that’s hardly a huge ask, with Treasure Island you have probably one of the most proven stock plots in all of fiction). Again, I’m not laying all the blame on Brian Murray, but overall Silver is the weak link in all this for me that pulls down what had the potential to be maybe one of the all time great Disney movies, and certainly the most original.

Alright, so we now get the movie’s version of the famous apple barrel scene. After he chases Morph into a barrel of space apples he overhears Silver giving the mutineers their marching orders. Scroop wants to kill everybody and then murder their corpses to be on the safe side but Silver tells him to button his fly-hole. Scroop says that Silver’s gone soft on Jim and Silver angrily tells the pirates that he doesn’t give two space shits about “some nose-wiping little whelp.” Jim is devastated.

"What's wrong with wiping my nose?"

“What’s wrong with wiping my nose?”

Jim manages to warn the Captain and Silver orders the men to get their mutiny on. Amelia, Doppler and Jim make a run for the lifeboats and Amelia holds off a mob of pirates with a laser rifle because she’s like a Thundercat Ripley.

"You ever dance with the red space rooster in the pale moonlight?"

“You ever dance with the red space rooster in the pale moonlight?”

Jim grabs the treasure map and Silver tries to stop him but just can’t bring himself to shoot and really he should just hand in his villain card right there. Jafar won’t even look him in the eye after that.

They try to make a landing on Treasure Planet but have to crash after they get shot down. Amelia is injured so Doppler stays with her while Jim goes exploring. He tries consulting the map only to find that it’s actually Morph in disguise and the real orb is still on the Legacy. Jim then comes across this movie’s version of Ben Gunn; BEN, a robot who’s been marooned on the planet and is played by Martin Short. Short gives, honestly, one of the most beautifully restrained and subtle performances I have ever heard in an animated film, using only the bare minimum of dialogue to express oceans of loneliness and stoic resignation I am of course fucking with you he mugs  and screams like a lunatic. Honestly, I feel like I should hate BEN more than I do, but he’s really only mildly annoying and not the unmentionable horror that “wacky robot voiced by Martin Short” would suggest. Anyway, it turns out that BEN has amnesia because a massive honking chunk of his brain has been torn out (yep, that’ll do ‘er). Jim tells Ben that he needs to find a place to hide and BEN offers to help him look but asks if they can stop off at his place so he can use the bathroom.

The robot needs to take a piss.

Okie dokie.

Anyway, Jim realises that BEN’s “place” is actually a highly defensible fortress and he moves Doppler and Amelia in there just in time for the pirates to attack. Jim manages to hold them off and Silver offers him parlay. In the book the negotiations are between Silver and Smolett, but here Jim takes the Captain’s place which I’m tempted to say is the better choice narratively. Silver tries to charm Jim, telling him that he didn’t mean the things he said and that if Jim just gives him the map he’ll make sure he get a fair slice of the treasure. Jim tells him to screw off so Silver changes tack and yells that if he doesn’t get the map he’ll order the ship to open fire on them and limps away. Jim realises that without the map they’re on Planet Shit without a cyber-paddle but can’t figure out how to get past the pirates who’ve surrounded the fort. Then BEN just casually reveals that the entire planet is one giant alien mechanism and that there’s a tunnel leading out underground. Jim, Ben and Morph leave Doppler to look after Amelia and make their way back to the Legacy to find the map and also disable the ship’s weapons so Silver can’t use them. They get attacked by Scroop who was left behind to guard the ship but BEN disables the artificial gravity causing Scroop to fall upwards into space.

INDUSTRIOUS LEGITIMATE KOOKABURRAS!

INDUSTRIOUS LEGITIMATE KOOKABURRAS!

Jim returns to the fort only to find that Silver and the pirates have beaten him to it. Silver takes the map, but since Jim is the only one who can open it for…some…reason (maybe because of his slim girlish fingers?) he has to take him along. They reach a dead end but Jim slots the map into the surface of the planet which causes a huge portal to open up. Jim realises that this portal can be opened to anywhere in the galaxy and that this was how Flint was able to strike and disappear without a trace.

Arrakis. Dune. Desert planet.

Arrakis. Dune. Desert planet.

Jim realises that Flint hid the treasure in the centre of Treasure Planet and opens a portal to the planet’s core. The pirates step through and are instantly crushed to pulp by the colossal gravitational forces at the centre the end. Nah, they’re fine of course and start helping themselves to the loot of a thousand worlds. While Silver’s distracted Jim and BEN go exploring the wreck of Flnt’s ship and find the old priate’s skeleton with te missing piece of BEN’s hard drive still in his hands. Jim slots it back in to BEN’s head and the robot goes apeshit because he suddenly remembers that Flint rigged the whole planet to explode if anyone ever tripped the alarm. Right on cue the planet starts to break apart and the pirates fall to their doom in order of how difficult they were to draw.

Poor bastard never had a chance.

Poor bastard never had a chance.

Silver has to make a choice between saving some of the Treasure or saving Jim from plummeting to his doom and saves the boy. Honestly, I’m not even sure we can still call him the villain of this movie. If it weren’t for the fact that it’s based on Treasure Island and he’s Long John Freakin’ Silver I’d probably just call Scroop the villain and be done with it. They make it to the surface to find Amelia, Doppler and Ben waiting on the Legacy. They try to escape but the ship is damaged and Doppler calculates that they won’t be able to escape the explosion. So Jim jury-rigs a solar surfboard and leads the ship through the crumbling planet to the portal and just barely succeeds in opening it to the Montressor spaceport just before the whole enchilada goes BOOM. It’s honestly a pretty thrilling scene. Jim catches Silver trying to make a run for it on the last longboat and decides to let the old scoundrel go. They share a teary goodbye and Silver tosses Jim some treasure so that he can rebuild his mother’s tavern. Fast forward a few years and Jim returns to the newly rebuilt Benbow Inn as a graduate of the Naval Academy. As he celebrates with his mother and friends he looks out the window and sees in the clouds the image of Silver, smiling down proudly on him like a piratey Mufasa.

"Remember who you arrrrr..."

“Remember who you arrrrr…”

***

Great movie? Nah. It has a weak villain and the script is no great shakes (I think it’s telling that the best lines are all ad-libbed either by Emma Thompson or David Hyde Pierce). It certainly doesn’t hold a candle to the greatest pirate movie ever made.

Nope.

Nope.

Fuck no.

Fuck no.

Aye.

Aye.

But it is a fun romp, a solid and often beautifully animated adventure movie that certainly did not deserve the box-office keelhauling it received on its release. In spite of some pretty decent reviews the movie was a genuine bomb (although it did have a strong second life in DVD sales). Any progress in staunching the bleeding that had been made with Lilo and Stitch was instantly undone. Traditional animation at Disney was once again on the endangered species list, and with the next release, it’s prospects would only become bleaker.

Scoring

Animation: 17/20
No two ways about it, this is a real pretty movie.
Lead: 13/20
He could be better. He just doesn’t apply himself. Because he’s not a part of your system, man.
Villain: 12/20
Interesting new take on a villain that just fails in the execution.
Supporting Characters: 14/20
Amelia’s great but the pirates are a bunch of largely interchangeable nondescript freaks.
Music: 14/20
Some nice nautical themes and if you don’t mind Johnny Rzenik he won’t mind you, but let’s be honest, it’s not one of the all time great Disney scores or anything.
FINAL SCORE: 70% 
NEXT UPDATE: 16 January 2014
 
NEXT TIME: Can you bear it?
Jessen03_brotherBear_cliff

86 comments

  1. It’s funny. When this movie first came out, I was a dumb kid and thought it looked stupid. But when I did my marathon of the Canon, it became one of my favorites. Great animation, exciting setpieces and great characters. Now I’m kicking myself for contributing to its failure.

  2. pipes up: “Der Schatz im All”, a really well done 6-parter I happen to own on DVD…and yes, it’s basically Treasure Island in Space, though entirely different from the Disney take (and, btw, one of the better adaptations).

    BTW, did you overlook what the RLS in RSL Legacy stands for? I think it is a nice nod to the author.

    As a big fan of the book, I actually share the disappointment on the take of Long John Silver. He is my favourite villain of all time, and I would have to lie if I would claim that I wasn’t initially very disappointed about the Disney take on him. But then I watched the movie again and realized that the Long John Silver from the book wouldn’t have worked with the story they were trying to tell. And I really like this angle. I like that for one an adaptation is not about Long John Silver with Jim Hawkins being the eyes of the reader, but about Jim Hawkins. And for this Jim Hawkins, this Long John Silver is a good match, so to speak. Is the story new…no, but it is really well done, and that makes it worth watching for me. I needed some time to mentally get away from the book I love so very much and read countless times, but when I did, I really started to love the movie. It has heart and a lot of creativity.

  3. While watching this movie in preperation for your review. I just felt like it was the same old Treasure Island. NO WAIT! It’s in space! Totally different. Eh, I was not feeling this movie. And I disagree about this being superior to Atlastis. At least Atlantis hasn’t been remade 500 million times. Nothing new was brought to the table here. And every character was forgettable. I do agree that after watching this I was hit with a sudden urge to watch Muppet Treasure Island. Best adaptation to date.

  4. “It was the nineties. All pop music was terrible.”

    Damon Albarn and Jarvis Cocker would like to have a word with you.

    I remember having seen Treasure Planet in theatres, so for once nobody can point fingers at me.

    About the film itself, I’m actually surprised how much I liked it (way back when, unfortunately I haven’t seen it in a while) considering that I’m not usually a fan of the Steampunk genre, mostly due to how the majority of Steampunk looks as ugly and dorky as sin yet thinks it’s the coolest thing ever.
    Though can Treasure Planet even be classified Steampunk due to drawing from the pre-Victorian Pirate Era, wouldn’t it be more Ocean Punk but in space? (I wouldn’t be surprised if there exists sub-genres called things like Elevator Punk or Spaghetti Punk.)

    It also helps that I’m a fan of more sympathetic or ambiguous villains, which makes this Long John Silver easier to swallow for me, even if I can acknowledge he’s not the sort of bad guy most people watch Disney films to see.

    1. Technically, no it is not really steampunk….after all, steampunk is not just a style, it is a while concept. The idea behind it is “what if technology with steam powered machines had developed further instead of switching to electricity?” And that’s naturally not what Treasure Planet did. They just borrowed some of the optic. But if you like the style, you are not picky, because there isn’t much to pick from at the first place.

      1. That is true. I think people confuse steampunk because they are thinking about the style instead of the concept, why so many think that it is steampunk in this film.

  5. Great review Mouse. I am on the same boat as you are abou this film; just eh. Jim is alright I guess, Silver was not that threatening but he was developed and his bond with Jim was great. Emma Thompson killed this role, and she is my favourite. The story is good, but it dragged in the second half.

    While I do think it is mediocre, it did not deserve to flop so hard ( Atlantis should have been the film to flop immensely). So sad that this is the beginning of the end of WDAS traditional animation.

  6. I have this movie on my Netflix To-Watch list, and I meant to watch it before this review came out, but . . . Christmas movies intervened? Yes. I’ll go with that.

    So as someone who’s never seen the movie, I think you were just and fair in your review. Although — even in the book I didn’t think Silver was a villain so much as he was an antagonist. That seems to have been translated over to this. (Oh, and nice nod to the explanation in the previous review on how the Star Trek reboot was basically cribbed from this movie! :D)

    Muppet Treasure Island FTW!

  7. THIS is how Long John Silver SHOULD be done https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1l7N-WLa3Q

    This is one of the weakest films in the canon to me. I don’t care for a single one of the characters and I honestly don’t find it very creative. Atlantis at least had that goddam amazing climax while this had just another “oh shit the place is about to explode, we better get out now” deal. I won’t call it bad by any means, but it’s among my least favorite films in the canon (that I’ve seen of course)

      1. Shiver My Timbers – Holy Owl, I feel my balls growing any time I hear this song. (Which is why I do not listen to it that often. My husband thinks testicles don’t fit my style well).
        MADISON have made a great, great cover, though.

  8. If Jim wasn’t something we’ve seen a thousand times before and a thousand times since, I think I’d rate this movie better than “decent.” I’ve heard people hate on Jim from the book for being a goody two-shoes, but I’ll take it any day of the week over Treasure Planet’s Jim.

    I’m glad you didn’t tear it a new one, but Muppet Treasure Island is clearly the superior adaption.

      1. There have been professional articles about Treasure Island from experts in Children’s literature (Bettina Hurrelmann for example) pointing out that Jim Hawkins is a weak character and mostly a surrogate for the reader with next to no own personality. Just saying.

  9. To me, this film is the Disney equivalent of Dreamworks’s Rise of the Guardians: they both suffer from prioritizing style over substance, not giving the characters enough time to really develop beyond “cool-looking but fairly generic in personality,” and fridge logic galore…but sweet BUDDHA, the jaw-dropping animation! The unbelievable action sequences! The frankly awesome concepts and scenery porn! The colossal box office failure that neither of these flawed-but-enjoyable films truly deserved (well okay, Guardians actually made back about twice its budget but that’s considered a flop by Dreamworks standards).

    So yeah. Treasure Planet = Guilty Pleasure for me.

    1. I must have a weird taste, because Rise of the Guardians is easily my favourite CGI DreamWorks movie by a large margin. I just watched it for Christmas, and totally fell in love with it. It has so much heart.

      1. Don’t worry, you don’t have weird taste; I actually really enjoyed it too and thought it had more heart than many other Dreamworks movies. I just can’t completely overlook its plot and pacing problems to qualify it as an unabashed pleasure for me, but I am legit saddened that movies like The Croods are more likely to get a sequel than this one.

    2. Honestly, for my life I can’t see any mayor plot or pacing problems in it…the pacing is different than with other movies, yes, but different is not always bad. I actually quite like the way the fight against Pitch is a series of small battles, until the guardians are worn down and the war is nearly lost. I also enjoy the switch from action to thoughtful scenes, it makes for a very interesting dynamic. And there is honestly not one second in the movie where I have the feeling that I could do a small break and fetch something from the kitchen.
      Maybe I am too forgiving because it’s tone and theme reminds me very much of “Peterchen’s Mondfahrt”, one of my favourite books and movie when I was a child…it is like an updated, more modern version of it. But I really think that most of the criticism against the movie boils down “you don’t do it how the others do it so it must be bad”, and I don’t think that I agree with it. There is more than one way to tell a good story.

      1. My main problem with the movie’s pacing is the same one I have with Treasure Planet (and hence why I compared them to one another); I feel like while both of them do succeed pretty well with some of their character-establishing/emotional scenes, the plot’s clear focus on dazzling our eyeballs with the animation and action gets in the way of me being able to view the majority of characters as defined more by cool/likable personalities than outer designs. Rise of the Guardian’s opening scenes honestly do a great job of making me care for and empathize with Jack; the animation and action in these scenes are built around showing us Jack’s character and hence complement it instead of overwhelm it.

        The rest of the film, however, feels like it’s trying to pack in too much stuff at once and while the numerous action sequences are very, very nice to behold and there is not a single boring moment to be had as you pointed out, when it came time for the plot to turn serious with a certain character’s apparent death my exact thoughts were, “Uh. Okay, movie, I know that you intend for this to be a really sad and heartbreaking scene and I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but I feel like I barely got to know this character and I know he’s totally coming back before the movie’s end, come on.”

        In addition, while most of my brain was genuinely entertained by the movie all the way through, there was a part of my brain that kept on thinking critical thoughts like “No child in the world has ever believed in Jack Frost in his 300 years of existence even though he creates freaking ice slides for them? Really?” and “Wait, if the Guardians and villain all lose their powers when children stop believing in them, then why does Jack have such strong powers even though no one supposedly believes in him!?”

        With all that said, Rise of the Guardians is definitely not a bad film. I don’t hate it or think it’s too “different” at all; in fact, the main reason I compared it to Treasure Planet in the first place is that for all their faults, I really did enjoy them in a “I know they’re too flawed to be truly great but gosh darn it, they’re so pretty and really do try their hearts out” way and wished they could have done better at the box office.

    3. I actually thought that this was well-done…way better than, for example, the overblown funeral scene in PatF, which always makes me laugh. I really liked the more low-key approach. And I really felt for the various characters…especially Bunny’s heartbroken face after the Easter incident got to me.

      And to answer your question: Jack isn’t a guardian. The Guardians are connected with the children, he isn’t. Which is a case of fridge horror, because I guess he would have likely died on the spot if they had made him a guardian at the very beginning (guess they didn’t think this through…or it’s easier to get believers if you are a guardian, who knows).

      1. You read my review about it already, so I won’t go over things with a lot of words. I think they should have established how they knew him beforehand when he was not a guardian. It was a bit unexplained to me.

        Some of the art of Jack himself and his fanon parings are……..disturbing in the least.

    4. The animation in Treasure Planet clashed fr me, since it was a CGI film but with 2d backgrounds. Guardians flopped because of it’s marketing costs and poor earnings in the last quarter of 2012. They spent so much marketing this film and their lat quarter sucked, so leading to the huge firing early last year. They both have a few issues that holds them back from being anything but good. The plot was a bit too thin for me in Rise of the Guardians.

      1. Rise of the Guardians just has very strong competition last year. Between all the Halloween themed movies, Brave and Wreck-it-Ralph, it had a hard time…but it did make a profit, nevertheless, and I hope that they will make a sequel.

  10. I really like this movie, maybe in my top 15 in the DAC. (Although yeah, everyone’s right, Muppet Treasure Island is better) The animation is BEAUTIFUL, the captain is awesomesauce, Dr. Doppler is hilarious, and I actually liked Silver quite alot (I dunnno, maybe it’s because I’m a stupid American who can’t tell one accent from another or maybe it’s because I’m an uncultured swine who’s never read the full version of the original book). For me the two weakest characters were Jim, who’s a stereotypical angsty teen, but serviceable to the plot and his relationship with Silver is done well, and BEN but BEN is only in the last half of the movie, so he doesn’t have time to become particularly grating. Still an over-all good cast, a solid, if familiar, plot and an absolutely AMAZING score. Seriously, when you said “not one of the all time great Disney scores” I gritted my teeth. This is a score I could listen to all day. I dunno, maybe I’m just weird. Anywho, count me among this movies casual fans. (Not the rabid ones with the inappropriate fanfiction and other…eugh)

      1. I was thinking more about the instrumental background music. It’s not the same as the great Disney musicals, but it’s darn good, on the level of Hans Zimmer in my opinion. (Wait, who did the instruments for this movie. Was it Zimmer?)

      2. @anii654 I am not…I’m actually not set on one special genre, as long as it has a great tune, I like it, and if it has thoughtful lyrics, I like it even more. “I’m still here” has both.

  11. I actually saw this with my family in theatres, but I fell asleep during it because at the time, I didn’t really care for sci-fi stories. (Stars Wars and Star Trek included, but nowadays I’m cool with them.)
    With that said, I have to respectively disagree with you on Silver being a weak point (I personally think it’s Jim who drags this film down, he’s far too emo for my taste), but I do agree that the script could have been better.

    (Also, good luck with Tranformers the movie, as I’m sure reviewing that film will set off some land mines.)

  12. Unshaved Mouse,

    In the last month or so (maybe two) I’ve blown through your blog and now that I’ve finally caught up, while I’m not excited to have to wait two week for each new review, I have to say you’ve really given me (and a lot of people clearly) a gift with these. I’m 21 so I grew up watching these movies. I don’t remember, but my mom assures me that the first movie I say in theaters was The Lion King. Just felt like I needed to say keep doing what you’re doing and also- because you seem so keen on asking- I have not been to Bahia my friend.

    Caleb Roitz

  13. Great review, as always! Looks like “Brother Bear” isn’t exactly gonna be praised in the next review. But I guess there’s worse (cough, cough, “Home On The Range”). Question: Are you gonna review “Enchanted” as a non-canon film?

    1. “Brother Bear” has praise-worthy moments, but overall is not a praise-worthy movie. I can watch the movie up to the part where Dinana (sp?) tells Kenai to go to the place where the light touches the mountain, and then I leave. But I come back at the reverse transformation.

  14. Clements and Musker could do no wrong in my book after Aladdin and Little Mermaid so call me biased but I really liked this movie. The animation is lovely, the concept was imaginative and it is always interesting seeing (or in this case, hearing) a younger JGL at work.

    Okay, Mouse, did you finally catch Frozen in theaters?

      1. Aw, I know you are incredibly busy and stuff but Frozen is one Disney movie you MUST watch on the big screen at least once! It will end up being Disney Animation’s second-highest grossing movie of all time at the box office after The Lion King, so yeah, quite a big event for a Disney fan.

  15. Abrams takes some space cops for Star Trek and Disney takes Abram to make Star Wars. Fair trade?

    I always thought this movie was fairly “eh”, too. Not amazing, not bad.
    Brother Bear, however…

    Oh, and I’m looking forward to that Enchanted review 😀

  16. Hi Neil,
    I just wanted to post a comment to say that I’m really enjoying this series of reviewing the animated Disney canon: I really like how you put visual jokes in with the written paragraphs, it makes things different from the usual review; when I first read them, I thought: “Hmmm, they remind me a lot of Doug Walker’s Nostalgia Critic reviews”, and thankfully, you are a big fan of him, as am I. For the past week, I’ve made my way through every one of your reviews, even Dinosaur (with the creepy-as-hell poster that I can’t physically look at that has haunted me for 14 years and is one of the only things that sends me close to a panic attack) 😛
    I feel kind of awkward putting my first comment on this review, of an animated Disney film I don’t particularly care about – but I loved it as a kid! Everyone has their Disney era that they grew up in as a child, and mine was the Lost era; these films were the ones being released in cinemas when I was a child, and I saw nearly all of them in the cinemas – yes, even Home on the Range. But obviously times change, I became an adult and my opinions changed. In fact, I actually did a similar challenge to you, in that I gave my thoughts on all 51 (at the time) animated Disney films in the canon on a tumblr blog in the summer of 2012: http://animationado.tumblr.com/ (I have reviewed all 53 as of now, and have not gotten myself into reviewing every future animated Disney film in the canon now). I was mainly inspired to do it out of Doug Walker’s Disneycember videos, and it really helped me in re-discovering my love for Disney that has now become an intense, devoted, ‘got-my-life-by-the-throat’ love. So whenever I find a blog that has reviewed/is reviewing all the animated Disney films (and there’s quite a few), it makes me really happy, and I love seeing all these different opinions on them 🙂
    Keep up the great work, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the ‘New Renaissance’ – hopefully Frozen should be out on DVD/Blu-ray by that time so you can review the full canon!
    Thanks,
    Jemma

  17. “The pirates step through and are instantly crushed to pulp by the colossal gravitational forces at the centre the end.” Actually, if anything, they should have been weightless. The closer you get to a large body’s center of mass (once you broach its surface, of course), the lighter you get, because instead of all its mass pulling you in one direction (towards the center), different parts are now pulling you in different directions, and in the very center, they all cancel out, so you’re effectively weightless. Just thought I’d put my Physics degree to work for you. 🙂

  18. NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR LIKING THE GOOGOO DOLLS. Dizzy Up the Girl is a great album. ;_;

    You know, I never really got the feeling that Jim was a “stick it to the MAN, man” character. Not an active one, anyway…like, he seemed to me the type that would have something catch his fancy and he’d go do it; maybe there’s a niggling voice in the back of his head saying “But you could get in trouble” but his forebrain is all “Nah, it’s no big.” I think it’s more that he seriously underestimates how his behavior will be responded to, rather than actively-trying-to-piss-people-off. Maybe because he doesn’t seem to bear anybody any genuine ill will aside from Scroop? And Scroop technically picked the fight with Jim, iirc.

    I notice you have a thing where accents bug you. XD

    For my own part, I think the Silver-Jim relationship is pretty strong here, stronger than in Muppet Treasure Island, in fact. (And I love MTI so don’t think that’s a small thing for me to say.)

    And I like BEN. I like Jim Carrey-esque over-the-top ridiculousness XD

    1. Hey Sempai! We missed ya. Yeah, I should explain. The Silver/Jim relationship was done quite well, I just didn’t really like Silver in isolation. I think they made the right decisions a lot of the time in terms of what to focus on. One if the reasons I think it’s better than Atlantis.

      1. I missed you too! Sorry, I suddenly had an absolutely terrible work schedule plus THREE WHOLE WEDDINGS OMG I WAS SO EXCITED, plus a newfound obsession with Supernatural, and I was severely sidetracked from everything else in life. But I did read the last few posts and I enjoyed them even if I didn’t comment properly ❤

  19. You know what you should make? A masterpost that organizes the films by your percentage score. I think it would be neat to see all of them compared side by side.

  20. I wonder sometimes if the flop had something to do with the November release. Disney had not done a major holiday release in a LOOONNG time (think Aladdin–as much as I love ENG, I’m not sure it counts as a “major release”). But they may have chosen the summer release for L&S because it was considered the more “minor” of the two films (and we flash back to Katzenberg and TLK/Pocahontas), thinking that this big-budget film could carry a holiday release. Problem was, as I said, Disney wasn’t doing regular holiday releases at the time, and there was a LOT of competition in 2002. There was Dreamworks with “Spirit” (decent movie), and then FOX’s salvo at Disney and Dreamworks, “Ice Age” (which became a franchise). And then people may have thought that L&S was Disney’s “movie” for 2002 because it was released in the summer and was a surprising hit.

    At any rate, I think the holiday release for TP was a bad miscalculation.

  21. What scurvy lack of regarrrd for theme is this, that not one o’ ye be leavin’ any piratey comments?

    I remember the day Mum took me to see this. I was very excited for it. I was about ten, and the posters and promos had filled me with excitement. Pirates! Aliens! Robots! Space! Swashbuckling! A character with the same name as me!
    Alas, it was not to be. We arrived to find the lobby of the cinema strangely empty.
    “Treasure Planet?” Mum enquired of the popcorn-scented young gentleman at the ticket desk. She was heroically masking the fact that she was as reluctant to see anything with that title, as I was enthusiastic about it.
    “No, sorry,” he replied – for some reason, I remember him as being the Squeaky-Voiced Teen from The Simpsons. “It started half an hour ago. But there’s a movie on in Cinema Three…”

    That movie was… MASTER OF DISGUISE.

      1. Poor Mum. Brought four children into this world, and yet that still can’t have been as painful as that hour and a half of poo and fart jokes.

  22. Funny, for me, everything after Lilo and Stitch can fit into a redux of the “never-heard-of-’em” era. After Tarzan, I’d only watched bit and pieces of Emperor’s/Atlantis/Lilo. However, while I hadn’t really watched these films (until very recently), I had never even heard of Treasure Planet and onward. I’ll get around to watching them; I’m betting that they probably don’t deserve the all bad rap. If nothing else, they’ll still have the 2D animation going in their favor.

    “We watch as his crew launches an attack against a ship full of Georgian Wig Wearing Turtle People”
    …What? That sounds completely awesome and you are completely to blame if it doesn’t live up to my warped expectations!

  23. I was searching for an image of ol’ Long John Silver Mufasa-ing and yours was the only one I could find. As luck would have it there was also a pretty entertaining review to go along with it.

    Google Image Search also caused me to stumble upon said SilverxHawkins pornography, and . . . and there aren’t enough pictures of beautiful meadows to make me unsee that.

  24. This was an awesome movie. The odds of me not liking this one are about as high as my Tron: Legacy kick continuing over the next week.
    Meaning that I really like this Movie.

    (Speaking of which: Mouse, do you plan on reviewing Tron or Tron: Legacy anytime soon? And if so, will there be Big Lebowski references?)

    1. Sorry, I meant that the odds of me liking this movie are as high as my Tron kick lasting into next week, not the odds of me not liking it. I was typing something else and forgot to erase the “not”. Sorry about that.

  25. Overall, a mostly good review.
    I personally really like John Silver in this film, and Jim’s characterization. Also, their relationship was the best part of the film.

    And while I’d say Atlantis is better (because it was my Disney Movie growing up, and basically the first Fandom I was ever in), Treasure Planet is pretty damn good in its own right.

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