This animated adaptation of Treasure Island from 2002 is based on a young man named Jim Hawkins whose childhood dream was to experience the planet, and understand himself as to what happened. The original storyline by Robert Louis Stevenson is certainly an intriguing one. Unfortunately, this Disney film seems to lack captivation and a particular level of heart, at least in my personal opinion. This is incredibly tough for me to type, especially since we all know very well that Disney has a tremendous amount of heart in their films. However, every once in a while, one will come along which will not have a sufficient plot for their characters, such as this one. It does not seem to be capable of grasping a firm hold on their audience.
Jim Hawkins is voiced by Joseph Gordon Levitt of 3rd Rock from the Sun and Inception fame. David Hyde Pierce plays the amazing Doctor Doppler. Pierce played Niles on the much beloved television show Frasier for eleven seasons (he also gave us the voice of Slim in A Bug’s Life). Martin Short played the adorably naive robot B.E.N.; Short has a few Disney connections including The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause and Jungle 2 Jungle, and he is providing the voice of Mr. Walsh in the soon to be released Disney film Frankenweenie! Emma Thompson voices Amelia, the captain of the ship. Thompson is well known for her roles in Nanny McPhee and Sense and Sensibility. Roscoe Lee Browne gives us the much beloved Mr. Arrow. Browne has appeared in countless television shows and films including portraying the voice of Francis in the Disney film Oliver & Company. Tony Jay narrates, who sadly passed away in 2006. Jay has given us the voice of Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, as well as Monsieur D’Arque in Beauty and the Beast, among many other films. Michael McShane voices Hands; McShane also played the voices of the adorable duo Tuck and Roll in A Bug’s Life. As for the Star Wars connection, Corey Burton voices Count Dooku and others on Star Wars themed video games.
My absolute favorite thing about this film is Morph, John Silver’s little shape shifting friend who thinks he is a dog. Every time Morph was on-screen, I smiled. He was voiced by Dane A. Davis who works mainly in the sound department for films including The Matrix and Prep & Landing among many others.
Treasure Planet was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. Clements and Musker have also given their natural directing and writing talents to The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog, Hercules, and The Great Mouse Detective. The music in this film is beyond incredible. The Goo Goo Dolls is one of my favorite groups so perhaps I am biased, but the songs which Johnny Rzeznik wrote and performed for the film are amazing. They are “I’m Still Here (Jim’s Theme)” and “Always Know Where You Are.”
My favorite scene was any which included Doctor Doppler or Morph…which would include quite a few scenes, come to think of it. That being said, they are both my two favorite characters in this film. I laughed right out loud when Amelia says to Doctor Doppler, “You have wonderful eyes”, and he responds with “She’s lost her mind!” I became a bit misty eyed at the end, as I normally do when a Disney film comes to a close. In all honesty, I thought that John Silver was going to end up being Jim Hawkins’ father, which is why Hawkins had the “this seems familiar” vibe going on. I was disappointed that this was not true.
Thanks to the awesome trivia on IMDb, I wanted to share a few facts that I learned while doing my homework for this film. Unbelievably, this film took ten years to complete! At one point, B.E.N. sings a few bars of the wonderful Pirates of the Caribbean attraction we all know and love at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The part where Hawkins and Silver are both attempting to persuade Morph to come to them is entirely ad-libbed. The name of the ship is the R.L.S. Legacy which pays homage to the author of Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson. Something I found quite interesting is that the role of Jim Hawkins was partially based on James Dean…I cannot see a similarity there, to be honest, but it depends on how the individual viewer sees the character. And there is a hidden Mickey on a shelf in the bedroom of the young Hawkins. It is none other than a Mickey Mouse figurine.
Treasure Planet is not a bad film in the least. It is very enjoyable. Although very slow moving at times, the writing is great and characters are sweet. The animation department did a phenomenal job in how they interacted. This is a film worth seeing at some point. As I said, it is not the first Disney film I would reach for if you want one full of heart and emotion, but it is endearing mostly thanks to the music and Morph.
My Rating: 3.5/5
And doctor, again with the greatest possible respect, zip your howling screamer.