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Bams' review of
Treasure Planet


Treasure Planet (2002)
Rated PG; running time 95 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Genre: Animation
Seen at: Lowes Star Southfield (Southfield, Michigan)
Official site:
IMDB site:
Written by: Sam Levine, Alex Mann (based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson)
Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker
Cast: Voices of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brian Murray, David Hyde Pierce, Emma Thompson, Martin Short, Roscoe Lee Browne, Michael Wincott, Laurie Metcalf, Patrick McGoohan

Review Copyright Rose Cooper, 2002

(click here to skip to this movie's rating)

I've come up with a working theory about my fondness for animated flicks. I think I like them so much because I never got to read many of the standard children's tales as a child (I spent my time reading my older sister's textbooks instead. Strange, I was), and now I'm making up for it in spades.

Or maybe it's because many of these animated features are just plain damn good. Treasure Planet certainly fits that bill, and then some.

THE STORY (WARNING: **spoilers contained below**)
Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) grew up loving the stories of space pirates and "buried" treasure that he and his mother Sarah (Laurie Metcalf) read together before his bedtime. With his father long gone and almost (but not quite) forgotten, the now 15-year-old Jim develops something of a rebellious streak, and spends his time sky-surfing in restricted areas, while Sarah tends to the Hawkins' Benbow Inn. Jim gets into trouble with the authorities time and time again, much to Sarah's dismay.

After space traveller Billy Bones (Patrick McGoohan) literally drops in on them and gives Jim a spherical map of hidden treasure to safeguard, bad pirates come and trash their Inn. Sarah's friend Dr. Denlopp Doppler (David Hyde Pierce), a mild-mannered scientist, convinces Sarah to let he and Jim set out on an adventure to find the treasure and restore the Benbow Inn to its former glory - as well as prove Jim's worthiness to his mother.

But their road will not be an easy one. The ship Denlopp hires to take them to Treasure Planet, is helmed by the honorable Captain Amelia (Emma Thompson) and First Mate Arrow (Roscoe Lee Browne); but more questionable is the crew, led by cyborg cook Silver (Brian Murray) and the evil spider-like Skroopf (Michael Wincott). When Amelia assigns Jim to work for Silver, it's all Jim can do to keep his wits about him, and keep his eyes on the prize: the booty on Treasure Planet.

Of all the treasures in Treasure Planet, the best two are these: the animators have done a spectacular job in creating a world that is not only futuristic, but also harkens back to the pirate days of the original Treasure Island; and the voice actors play up their characterization strengths marvelously. David Hyde Pierce, known best for his role as the foppish Niles Crane in Frasier, is a sterling example of this very thing. If you close your eyes and just listen to his Denlopp Doppler speaking, you can easily imagine his animated character doing exactly the things he does on-screen. Conversely, if you could turn down the audio for a moment, your mind's ear could hear Pierce's voice quite clearly.

Though I'm not fluent in the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, I'm familiar enough with the gist of his Treasure Island to know something of the whole pirate thingy, complete with mimicking parrot (here, very cleverly transformed into a shape-shifting creature known as - what else? - Morph). This passing familiarity helped to heighten my appreciation for the modern updates to the character types like Silver (here, an ethics-conflicted cyborg with much more than just a hook working for him), Captain Amelia (sexy feline to Denlopp's learned but adventurous puppy), and the like. And ok, I won't lie: I adored Morph. There, I said it.

And the hits don't stop there. The musical score by James Newton Howard, soared perfectly along with rebellious teen Jim (complete with a "surfer" haircut and shiny earring; have we ever seen that in an animated Disney flick?) as Jim goes sky-surfing along. And bringing it all together marvelously, the directing duo of Ron Clements and John Musker combined the best parts of traditional and computer animation, to spectacular effect.

Who knew I'd like Martin Short, as B.E.N., the wacked-out robot, most of all? Short generally makes my teeth itch, with his irritatingly screechy tones. But here, his waaaaay loud robot had me in near-convulsions. Starting first with Pierce's trademark fish-out-of-water hijinx, continuing on with the cute (but not overly so) Morph, and culminating with B.E.N., I swear I thought I'd never stop laughing.

In case you're wondering, that's A Good Thing.

Treasure Planet hits on all cylinders. It is beautifully drawn, with remarkable attention to detail, a minimum of smarmy fluff in the story (and thank goodness, no production numbers!), and genuinely funny supporting characters. Who knew children's stories could be this entertaining!


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And that's the way I see it.

Rose "Bams" Cooper
3BlackChicks Review™
Copyright Rose Cooper, 2002
EMAIL:    ICQ: 7760005

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More 3BlackChicks™ review(s) for this week:
(movies reviewed week of 11/27/02):
Bams' reviews:
Solaris | Treasure Planet

The Diva's reviews:
They | Extreme Ops

Cass' reviews:
They | Extreme Ops

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