Fifteen-year-old Jim Hawkins (voice of Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lives on the planet Montressor with his mother Sarah (voice of Laurie Metcalf). When a space cruiser crashes nearby, the manic turtle-like alien Billy Bones onboard (voice of Patrick McGoohan) warns about a cutthroat cyborg in pursuit. Jim subsequently finds a gold metallic sphere with engraved markings, and realises it is a 3D map of the planets showing the way to the two-ringed green Treasure Planet. Jim and astrophysicist Dr Delbert Doppler (voice of David Hyde Pierce) set off to find the treasure, embarking on the space galleon captained by Captain Amelia (voice of Emma Thompson). Jim is assigned to work in the galley with cyborg-cook John Silver (voice of Brian Murray), and he soon suspects him to be the pirate cyborg after the treasure.
Review by Louise Keller:
A thrilling trip through a fantasy galaxy in pursuit of dreams, Treasure Planet is a compelling animated adventure set to dazzle all ages. There are flying ships, exploding planets, pirate-cyborgs, and bizarre creatures, as Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale gets new zest, with splendid hand-drawn animation blended with digital painting technology and 3D modelling techniques. It’s a magical ride where our imagination is given the opportunity to soar, much aided by James Newton Howard’s rollicking score. The diverse characters all come to life with our 15 year old protagonist never losing sight of who he is, or what his true values are. Four and a half years in the making, Treasure Planet is an ambitious project that sparkles with innovation and with whirlwind speed, we enter a new limitless reality. The effects are dramatic and visually enthralling as we venture through space portals, swirling black holes, cosmic storms as stars explode all around us. It’s great escapism and I especially took a shine to the cute and lovable Morph, a playful, blob-like creature who looks as though he could have escaped from a shaken lava lamp. He is a toy, a pet and a playmate, as he ‘morphs’ into different guises. A great voice cast brings the characters to life – Joseph Gordon-Levitt compelling as the James Dean-inspired hero, thesp Brian Murray as the scallywag cyborg cook John Silver whose mechanical hand is a handy multi-function kitchen tool, Emma Thompson as the divine Captain Amelia, Patrick McGoohan’s booming Billy Bones and the very funny Martin Short as the bumbling, dithering bio-electronic navigator with the sabotaged memory circuit. But this treasure hunt is more than a boy’s own adventure, it’s an entertaining romp through the galaxies of our imagination, reinforcing friendship and courage, deflecting evil and greed.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If you don’t have a youngster handy to give you an excuse to see Treasure Planet, hire one, just so you can step off this mortal coil in turmoil for 95 minutes of terrific adventure, with hardly any corn or schmaltz to distract you from a ripping good yarn. Thanks to the classic story from Robert Louis Stevenson, the animators have a reliable structure on which to hang a well conceived animated version that embraces some of the rustic charms of the 18th century and fuse futuristic elements to it. It’s all remarkably imaginative and totally successful, with space ships designed like galleons, her sails now solar panels. The inventiveness of the production design is matched by superb animation work of great depth and detail, glued together by James Newton Howard’s first class score. The directors balance pace with exposition, adventure with character, action with development - and the voice cast excels in fleshing out the animated figures with human complexities. Retaining the basic elements of the original story and adding a sci-fi element renders a fresh skin over Stevenson’s work, without betraying its values and humanity. It also adds popular appeal, and with luck, may help drive some early teens to the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and not just because of the many subtle inserts aimed at grown ups, but because of its charm, energy and overall excellence.
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TREASURE PLANET (PG)
VOICES: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Laurie Metcalf, Patrick McGoohan, David Hyde Pierce, Brian Murray
DIRECTOR: Ron Clements, John Musker
SCRIPT: John Musker, Ron Clements, Ken Harsha, Barry Johnson, Kaan Kalyon, Mark Kennedy, Sam Levine, Donnie Long, Frank Nissen (novel Robert Louis Stevenson)
MUSIC: James Newton Howard
OTHER: ART DIRECTION: Andy Gaskill
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2002