Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Treasure Planet (2003)
U

Disney's latest expensive folly is a $90 million-plus intergalactic swashbuckler which crashlanded at the US box office. Did it deserve to? Well, put it this way: in space, no one can hear you shrug.

It's not that "Treasure Planet" is terribly bad. It just suffers in comparison to recent animated hits such as "Monsters, Inc." and "Toy Story 2" - which contained enough wit and visual panache to dazzle children and adults alike.

The story, then. Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island". In space. Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a tearaway teen who escapes dreary domesticity when he's given a map to the mythological Treasure Planet.

Off he sets on an expedition, aided by his bumbling alien sidekick Doctor Doppler (David Hyde Pierce), who hires a ship crewed by the suspicious cyborg John Silver (Brian Murray) and other alien reprobates. Silver (whose accent travels from Dublin to Glasgow, via Kingston, Jamaica) bonds with the fatherless Jim, but you just know he's after that treasure...

The familiarity of the story isn't particularly a problem - it certainly won't trouble kids - but swapping the high seas for the final frontier is a superficial, distracting change.

Spaceships look like galleons (replete with solar-powered sails), laser guns look like flintlock pistols... everything feels counterfeit.

It's not helped by the visuals, which are a daring but ill-judged experiment in blending hand-drawn and computer animation.

The result is as patchy as the script, which creates nice comic characters in Doppler and B.E.N (an idiotic android voiced by Martin Short), but is inevitably focused on Hawkins - a bland everykid those broken home background prompts a couple of risible attempts at social commentary.

"Treasure Planet" finally gets the wind (or sun) in its sails in the final third, but remains akin to an extremely well-made Saturday morning cartoon - great for hyperactive four-year-olds or hungover students, not worth a trip to the pictures.

End Credits

Director: Ron Clements, John Musker

Writer: Ron Clements, John Musker, Rob Edwards

Stars: Brian Murray, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Thompson, David Hyde Pierce, Martin Short, Patrick McGoohan, Laurie Metcalf

Genre: Animation, Family

Length: 95 minutes

Cinema: 14 February 2003

Country: USA

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