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A futuristic twist on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, Treasure Planet follows restless teen Jim Hawkins on a fantastic journey across the universe as cabin boy aboard a majestic space galleon. Befriended by the ship's charismatic cyborg cook, John Silver, Jim blossoms under his guidance and shows the makings of a fine shipmate as he and the alien crew battle a supernova, a black hole, and a ferocious space storm. But even greater dangers lie ahead when Jim discovers that his trusted friend Silver is actually a scheming pirate with mutiny on his mind.
For more about Treasure Planet and the Treasure Planet Blu-ray release, see Treasure Planet Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on July 2, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Thompson, Roscoe Lee Browne, Corey Burton, Patrick McGoohan, Laurie Metcalf
Directors: John Musker, Ron Clements
» See full cast & crew
Treasure Planet Blu-ray Review
Puns ho! Batten down the hatches! Hoist the mainstay! It be a pirate film!
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, July 2, 2012
There's treasure to found in Treasure Planet, Walt Disney Animation's 43rd feature film. Seas to be sailed, worlds to be discovered, flights of space-faring imagination to be savored, and a surprisingly intuitive adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" to boot. But there be danger in these 'ere waters, matey; a maelstrom even co-directors Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin) have trouble navigating. At the eye of the storm is an expertly crafted relationship between a wayward boy and a heart-of-plundered-gold pirate, a sweeping sci-fi adventure, and lovingly hand-drawn swashbucklers and scallywags. Raging at all sides, though, are the same gale-force winds that have sank many a well-intentioned, post-Disney Renaissance animated film: scurvy supporting characters, peg-legged pacing, and the Yellow Jack of patchwork animation.
After fifteen-year-old troublemaker Jim Hawkins (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) acquires a holographic map from a dying bilge rat named Billy Bones (Patrick McGoohan), he and his mother (Laurie Metcalf) narrowly escape a ruthless cyborg and his band of pirates. With the help of family friend Dr. Delbert Doppler (David Hyde Pierce), Jim charters a ship, the RLS Legacy, and sets off across the Etherium seas (essentially a vast, breathable atmosphere in space) in search of the fabled Treasure Planet. But aside from the ship's captain, Amelia (Emma Thompson), and her first mate, Mr. Arrow (Roscoe Lee Browne), there aren't any crewman worth trusting, save perhaps the ship's cook, a sweet but salty cyborg named John Silver (Brian Murray). Jim is initially leery of Silver, wondering if he could be the same pirate who attacked and burned down his mother's inn, but soon develops a special bond with the galleyman, seeing in him the father and role model he never had. Silver is up to something, though, and as Jim and the RLS Legacy crew near their destination, the boy finds out exactly what the old sea dog is planning.
Alas, Jim and John Silver exist in a bubble. In that bubble is a fantastic Disney feature animated film filled with wonder, adventure and uncertainty. Murray is perfectly cast as the dastardly cyborg biding his mutinous time, imbuing Silver with a disarming warmth that makes his relationship with Jim and his heartfelt struggles with turning on the lad all the more convincing. He turns with all-too-venomous ease, though, leaving little doubt that Silver is, if not entirely willing, at least capable of doing whatever is necessary to unearth the greatest treasure in the universe. Gordon-Levitt is terrific as well, despite being saddled with the rather thankless role of the angst-ridden every-teen in search of some semblance of purpose. He and Murray develop a very real friendship, with very real strides and very real betrayals, and it's their voicework, paired with the film's finest bits of character animation and design (courtesy of supervising animators Glen Keane and John Ripa), that makes Treasure Planet as successful, satisfying and, yes, even touching as it is. When all else falls short, Jim and John Silver lend weight to the tale. When all else is dull and ragged, Gordon-Levitt and Murray are sharp and pointed. And when the story, script, supporting performances, or CG-infused animation doesn't live up to their potential, it's Jim and John that keep the ship on course.
Thompson and Metcalf shouldn't be dismissed -- their work is among the remaining cast's best -- but Captain Amelia and (especially) Jim's mother aren't given much to do. This is a boys' treasure hunt, lest ye be mistaken. Commendable as Clements and Musker's decision to swap out Stevenson's Captain Smollett for a firebrand female may be, the co-directors never quite follow through, wounding Amelia and all but incapacitating her during the film's climactic third act. Pierce and Martin Short (who plays a robot marooned years ago on Treasure Planet) are squandered too, sacrificed on the altar of comic relief without much comic relief to offer. They give it their all, they do. But neither Doppler nor B.E.N. hold a flickering candle to Robin Williams' Genie or Samuel E. Wright's fan-favorite crustacean, Sebastian. Killer lines don't find their way onto the page for one, and the characters aren't endearing enough to make any amount of improv very effective. Moving through the rest of the crew, it's nothing but a steep decline, thanks to some of the most uninspired alien pirate designs th animators could dream up. Silver is a work of Disney mastery; Swiss Army Knife arm, hydraulic peg leg, laser eye, expressive body language, persuasive face and all. His crew? Silly, clumsy, unappealing and forgettable. Even the true villain of the film, a beady eyed arachnoid (Michael Wincott), and his chief rival, Mr. Arrow, aren't remotely interesting. Back-stabbing bug vs. lumbering stone man? Meh.
Treasure Planet's animation, meanwhile, is a never-ending battle between traditional hand-drawn and CG elements. Characters like John Silver represent a near-flawless combination of both techniques, and to visually thrilling ends. But the Deep Canvas-painted CG ships, backgrounds and planets are hit or miss (the Crescent Moon shipyard is brilliant, the pod of CG space whales, not so much), some fitting seamlessly into the aesthetic, others being completely disconnected from the hand-drawn characters. The arranged-marriage animation was also much more impressive ten years ago, when Disney's 50/50 split seemed more like a glimpse into the future (one that has, for the most part, been meticulously refined or wisely abandoned from project to project). That said, the care that went into each scene is apparent, so much so that such criticism really comes down to personal taste and tolerance rather than the actual quality of the animation. Had all the characters, and really the entire adventure, been more absorbing, it would be easier to overlook Treasure Planet's age and shortcomings. As it is, though, every flaw amplifies the next, placing Disney Animation's 43rd feature squarely among its more average films.
Treasure Planet Blu-ray, Video Quality
Even lesser Disney animated feature films earn A-class treatments. Treasure Planet has never soared so high, and only the slightest hint of artifacting and banding (some of which is inherited from the source, as is the case with the Etherium clouds in the opening shot) hold the studio's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer back from perfection. Colors are rich and radiant, primaries are subdued but potent, black levels are as dark and deep as a black hole (quite literally at the 42-minute mark), and contrast is dialed in beautifully and consistently. Detail is terrific as well. The animators' hand-drawn line art is crisp, refined, and free of aliasing, computer-generated elements and traditionally animated characters blend nicely, and the Deep Canvas-painted CG sets look exactly as intended. Add to that a pristine image, a technically proficient encode, and very few issues to speak of and you have yet another Disney knockout.
Treasure Planet Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Treasure Planet sails the deadly Etherium seas with a brisk, spirited DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Fiery supernova debris hurtles past the bow of the RLS Legacy. A black hole roars and hisses as a helpless crew is dragging into its maw. Space whales glide alongside an astonished young man. A massive portal open upon far-flung, sometimes volatile worlds. A giant energy beam slices through the center of a planet and sends a sea of treasure hurtling into an opening abyss. And those are just some of Planet's more notable sonic showcases. Through it all, LFE output grants fitting power, weight and presence to everything Jim encounters on his adventure, as well as providing a sense of ever-present atmosphere to the oceans of space. The rear speakers deliver too, erupting with activity at a moment's notice, supporting the quietest of scenes, sending Morph careening from channel to channel, and creating an immersive soundfield regardless of whether Jim's feet are planted on the ground, on a ship's deck, or on the surface of a mechanical planet. Directionality is a tad superficial at times, sure (the sound designers have a bit too much fun with B.E.N.), but it's harmless and all a part of the intended experience. It only helps that dialogue is clean, clear and perfectly prioritized throughout, and rarely subject to the whims of the film's more bombastic sequences. All said, Treasure Planet delivers on its AV potential.
Treasure Planet Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Treasure Planet Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Treasure Planet isn't a Disney classic by any means. It bombed at the box office, split audiences and critics, and remains one of Disney's post-Renaissance failures. Still, young, solar-surfing Jim Hawkins and crusty, cybernetically enhanced pirate cap'n John Silver keep Disney's 43rd animated feature afloat and make it worth watching, perhaps even worth owning if your kids adore sailing the Seven Seas -- or any seas really, Etherium or otherwise -- with swashbucklers and scallywags, be they from the 18th century or beyond. At least the studio's Blu-ray release won't disappoint. With an excellent video transfer, an arresting DTS-HD Master Audio track, and a stash of valuable extras, it's sure to please fans and even bring a few newcomers aboard.
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Treasure Planet Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The History of Disney's Treasure Planet - July 2, 2012
The famous novel "Treasure Island" is turned into an animated adventure in space by Disney's team of top animation artists. Four years in the making, it is now available on Blu-ray for the first time. Join us for a comprehensive look at the history and making of ...
• Upcoming Disney Catalog Releases for 2012 (Updated) - June 26, 2012
This year, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will bring over thirty catalog entries to Blu-ray. The scheduled films span across Disney's different distribution branches, and while the studio has previously hinted at certain titles - such as The Color of Money, ...
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