tek's rating:

Treasure Planet (PG)
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Caution: spoilers!

Some time before this movie was released, I recall seeing a trailer for it. I think it must've been in a theater, though I've no idea what movie I was watching at the time (not that it matters). But... I loved the animation (a mix of cel and CGI), with Jim Hawkins doing some solar surfing. I just thought it was so amazing, that I'd have to see it in the theater when it came out (though at the time, I very rarely had a chance to see movies at the theater). And while I often make up my mind to see movies in the theater and then fail to do so, this one, I did. And I liked it. Um... and I feel like I must have written a review, either then or some years later, either from watching it again on TV or DVD. But now I can't find any review, so... maybe I'm just remembering things I meant to say in a review, or maybe I'm thinking of writing about it on a message board, or I could be thinking of some other version of "Treasure Island," of which there have been many (most likely the truth is a combination of all these explanations). Of course, none of this matters. But now I just feel like rewatching it and finally getting a review up. One thing I definitely know I meant to say was that Billy Bones- who only appears briefly in the movie, of course- was voiced by Patrick McGoohan. So that was cool. Of course, there were other familiar voices as well, including David Hyde Pierce as Doppler, Emma Thompson as Amelia, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jim, Laurie Metcalf as Sarah, and Martin Short as Ben.

Anyway, it begins with 3-year-old Jim Hawkins reading a book in bed, telling the legend of famous space pirate Nathaniel Flint, and "Treasure Planet," somewhere at the edge of the galaxy, where Flint hid the loot of a thousand worlds. ("Reading" might be inaccurate, though- the book is narrated and projects holographic images of the story, rather than having any actual text.) Jim clearly loves the story, and totally believes Treasure Planet is real. After a cute scene with young Jim and his mother, Sarah, the movie flashes forward 12 years, to Jim as a teenager, riding his solar surfer. Which is way awesome, as I mentioned earlier. But, he's soon stopped by robot police, and taken home to the Benbow Inn, which his mother runs alone, ever since Jim's father left. There are lots of alien customers, including the doglike Dr. Delbert Doppler, an astrophysicist and old family friend.

Well, we soon find that Sarah is terribly distressed about all the trouble Jim's been getting into, not wanting him to ruin his future. But Jim doesn't believe he has any kind of future. Anyway, that night, a ship crashes outside the inn, and Jim helps its pilot, a pirate named Billy Bones (I didn't recognize McGoohan's voice under the pirate accent, but it's still cool knowing it was him). He takes a sphere out of his treasure chest and tells Jim to beware of the cyborg, who's coming for it. And then he dies. Immediately thereafter, a group of pirates show up, and Jim, Sarah, and Doppler barely manage to escape, taking the sphere with them. The pirates burn the Benbow to the ground.

Later, at Doppler's house, Jim is toying with the sphere, and it suddenly projects a starmap. Doppler points out the planet where they are, Montressor, as well as various other places, and finally the map displays Treasure Planet. Despite Sarah's objections, Jim desperately wants to go there, to make up for all the trouble he's caused her. Doppler wants to go so he can become a famous explorer, and so he decides to finance an expedition, and convinces Sarah to let Jim go along, saying a few character-building months in space could straighten Jim out. So, they head to Montressor Spaceport, where Doppler has made arrangements for the two of them to travel on the RLS Legacy, which is captained by a catlike alien named Amelia. Um... we also meet the first mate, Mr. Arrow. I should say, there are a number of differences from the original story, not just the fact that it's set in space and pretty much everyone besides Jim and his mother are aliens. The name of the ship is different (though a nice nod to Robert Louis Stevenson), as is the name of the captain (which makes sense, because she's also a woman rather than a man). Anyway, she locks up the map sphere thing, and tells Doppler and Jim not to trust the crew Doppler had hired. She treats Doppler like an imbecile, so of course he doesn't like her. And she assigns Jim to work with the ship's cook, Mr. Silver, which Jim isn't happy about, especially once he discovers that Silver is (dun-dun-dun!) a cyborg. And Silver doesn't seem happy about it, either. Oh, and Jim also meets Morph, a cute little shape-shifting blob that Silver says he rescued from someplace called Proteus 1.

Well, Silver starts giving Jim tons of work as a cabin boy. But he also protects him from the treacherous crew (most notably the spiderlike Scroop), who don't like Jim. We soon learn that Silver is actually their leader, and they're planning a mutiny. But in the meantime, Silver starts becoming something of a father figure to Jim, who clearly missed having a father, all these years. Then one day, a star the ship is passing goes supernova, then devolves into a black hole. They manage to escape with some astronomical advice from Doppler (which impresses Captain Amelia), though Mr. Arrow is lost. Later, Jim is chasing Morph around, and ends up overhearing Silver talking to the crew, who all want to kill Jim, Amelia, and Doppler immediately. But Silver convinces them to wait til they have the treasure. However, when Silver learns that Jim overheard them, he decides they pirates should mutiny earlier than planned. Jim and the others barely manage to get away in a lifeboat, and crash on Treasure Planet, which the Legacy had just reached.

Amelia sends Jim and Morph to scout the area, while Doppler stays and tends to Amelia, who had been injured in the battle. Jim soon finds a robot called Ben (Bio-Electronic Navigator), which had gone crazy since being marooned 100 years ago. Jim learns that Ben knew Captain Flint, and helped hide the treasure. But Ben's missing his primary memory circuit, and can't be of much help. However, he does take Jim and the others back to his home, to hide from the pirates (though they soon find them, and there's a standoff).

Well, that's pretty much all of the plot I want to divulge. I feel like I've said too much already, but there are some more fun twists before the end. I must say, I feel like the movie deserves to have done better than it did, financially. I loved the animation, I thought the acting was good all around, the adventure was pretty cool and often thrilling. There were some genuinely touching moments, as well as plenty of humor. The main comic relief characters were Morph and Ben, though they were more of the type to appeal to kids (not that I didn't like them, as well). But personally, I found Doppler and Amelia the most amusing characters, and they eventually developed an unlikely romance which I found utterly charming. The relationship between Jim and Silver was complicated, but really good. The ending is ridiculously happy. And um... I just think it's incredible how well this old story was adapted as science fiction. And... I guess that's all I can think to say.

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