"A Few Character Building Months in Space"
Treasure Planet
Review by Ross Anthony

Take "Treasure Island" into space and you get "Treasure Planet." Take that good story, beef it up with some large breathtaking visuals and release it on IMAX at the same time as 35mm and now you've got a historic cinematic move. Well, the word 'historic' may be a bit over the top; but an important precedent nonetheless. Large format filmmakers and producers will no doubt be watching to see how this Disney 'experiment' pans out. But, filmgoers, what will they do? Will they be confused? Will the average person notice the difference? Is there a difference worth noticing? If they understand the choice, will they choose to see this film in large format or the standard 35 screen?

Well, I don't know the answers to those questions (though I'm curious too); I have seen the film on the large screen and here are my comments. While, big is definitely good, the minutes of really big screen action don't add up enough to make this a must see at an IMAX/large format theater. That's not to say that the film's a disappointment when projected in giant form. No, No. I quite enjoyed "Treasure Planet!" Nor is it to say that between the few powerful action/scenic sequences lay boring heaps of talking heads. No. This is a good script, good dialogue, funny even for adults. The characters are interesting and often very creatively constructed from figure to backstory. My point is, the film will play equally well on both screen sizes (mind you, I haven't seen it on the standard screen).

Treasure Planet

That said, the earlier air surf/sailing scene bursts with energy -- it'll fill your sails as well. It's truly sensational in the original 'sense' of the word. The launch sequence breathtaking, and several other "more Imaxy moments" do make it worthy of the blow up in the first place. But, like "Tarzan" and other Disney favorites, this is just a good film. The rebel teen with unresolved issues revolving around his father who left the family, the grizzly pirate that takes him under his wing (or does he?) and of course a treasure at the end of the rainbow. At its heart, this is a rite of passage film, a sort of tricky psuedo-step father/son tale of trust and goals. Disney takes this dynamic just as far as possible without dropping the overall fun of the picture.

Aside from some transient digital pixalization (easily overlooked), the image looks pretty darned good and the audios are strong. Adults and kids will like this film. I particularly enjoyed David Hyde Pierce's Doctor Doppler and Emma Thompson's Captain Amelia, both are spoiled with some charming dialogue. Bumbly Dr. Doppler hugs young Jim Hawkins, "We'll finally get to share some quality time together and you know what they say ... 'Familiarity breeds (pause) well, contempt,' but never mind that."

Unfortunately, Martin Short's C-3PO-esque golden robot toggles between somewhat amusing and somewhat annoying (for me, more of the latter than the former). And there is a brief after-launch lull which is sweetly broken by a John Rzeznik (of Goo Goo Dolls fame) tune which sings over a nicely composed music/video sequence of Hawkins and Silver bonding.

"You give up a few things to follow a dream."

Treasure Planet

  • Treasure Planet. Copyright © 2002. Rated PG.
  • Starring the voices of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brian Murray, David Hyde Pierce, Emma Thompson.
  • Directed by John Musker and Ron Clements.
  • Screenplay by Ron Clements & John Musker and Rob Edwards.
  • Adapted from the novel "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • Produced by Roy Conli, John and Ron at Disney.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:52:02 PDT