Treasure Planet

It's a very clever idea to redefine Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel Treasure Island into the future. Treasure Planet retains much of the same story, with the main difference being that everything takes place in a wondrous looking future. The reason to watch this film is to watch everything pass across the screen. Instead of spaceships, large ships fly through space using sails. People man these ships, unfurling sails, swabbing decks, and scaling the scaffolding, all bereft of any sort of breathing device. How exactly are they breathing in space? Who cares? It just looks really cool. The main drawback is the typical Disney-fication of the story; ironic since Disney's prior version is considered a classic.

The main character is Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Halloween H2O, 10 Things I Hate About You), who has been dreaming of Treasure Planet, a legendary planet with a vast cache of treasure since he was a child. Jim's father left him (Disney style), and his mother Sarah (Laurie Metcalf, Timecode, Toy Story 2) raised him by herself. When Jim finds a map leading to the legendary Treasure Island, he sets of with Dr. Doppler (David Hyde Pierce, Full Frontal, Osmosis Jones) and a crew led by the feline-like Captain Amelia (Emma Thompson, Wit, Maybe Baby) consisting of a bunch of ruffians. Led by John Silver (Brian Murray, City Hall, Bob Roberts), the crew intends to mutiny and take the treasure for themselves.

The plot bogs the movie down. There is too much of it, and not enough time spent on each individual character. Pierce and Thompson seem like afterthoughts, as does Dane Davis, who plays Morph, Silver's surprisingly cute, shape-shifting "parrot." The only good thing to come out of this is a reduced role for Martin Short (Jimmy Neutron, Get Over It), who plays a manic robot who appears late in the film. What emerges is an unlikely bond between Jim and Silver. Jim latches onto the pirate as the father figure he never had, and inexplicably, Silver takes a liking to Jim. H-arrrr-d to believe.

Treasure Planet is similar in tone and style to last year's Atlantis in that both are adventure movies that probably appeal more to younger boys. This film is brutally efficient in pacing, thanks to directors Ron Clements and John Musker (Hercules, Aladdin). They move things quickly, stopping long enough to get a small taste of what is happening. What also happens is much of the spirit of the novel is missing. There is a certain wonder and awe in Treasure Island that never quite translates across in this adaptation, by Clements, Musker, Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio (Shrek, The Road to El Dorado) and Rob Edwards. So while there may not be much substance to it, these guys still put a lot of imagination into making the film, so it is fun, but on a more superficial level.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 35 minutes, Rated PG for adventure action and peril.

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