When watching Disney’s “Treasure Planet” today, it’s hard to believe the movie has just reached its 10th anniversary – not because it feels new, but rather quite the opposite. While “Treasure Planet” is enjoyable to watch, it plays like a product of the ’90s. With dated computer graphics, artistic style, and soundtrack, the film’s release to Blu-ray entertains but reminds audiences why it never became a Disney classic.
“Treasure Planet” is based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” spun into a sci-fi world of the future with space pirates, aliens, laser guns, and automatons. With legendary Disney directors John Musker and Ron Clements at the helm, this film appeared to be a way for them to take animation beyond the worlds of princesses in “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin,” appealing more to a male audience.
But while the adventure of the film is often exciting, there is little character connection. Though the motivations behind most of the characters’ actions is simple – seeking a long-lost treasure – only a handful have enough development for audiences to care about them. But the film often makes up for its relatively simple story with a unique visual style, a seamless blend of traditional hand-drawn and computer-generated animation, even if the CG appears to be of an era further back than its ten year age.
Also dating the film tremendously is the song “I’m Still Here,” supplied by John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls. Hearing his voice instantly took me back to the ’90s as it was prominently featured in the middle of the movie. This one song is a far cry from the brilliant musical numbers featured in so many of Disney’s animated films.
It’s been been ten years since I’d last seen “Treasure Planet,” when it first arrived in theaters. Before watching the new Blu-ray home release last night, all I really remembered about the film was something about an obnoxious robot ruining its third act. And sure enough, an over-the-top hyperactive robot voiced by Martin Short entered the picture right on cue, far too late for a new character to be introduced, especially one that ultimately proved to be fairly useless to the story.
But this time around, I looked past that unnecessary character to the grander picture of the film, able to enjoy it not as an instant classic, but instead as a fun adventure through outer space with roots in (and even a direct reference to) Pirates of the Caribbean. It may not be perfect, far from Clements’ and Musker’s best work, and perhaps not worthy of its 2002 Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film, but it is at least enjoyable.
Despite reaching the 10th anniversary milestone, “Treasure Planet” was given little more than a sprucing up for this Blu-ray release. The film itself looks and sounds great, but no new bonus features are added for the release. There are plenty included, taking viewers behind-the-scenes into the making of each element of the movie. But they’re all presented in standard definition and are recycled from previous DVD releases.
Disney fans shouldn’t immediately shrug off “Treasure Planet.” It was directed by two of Disney’s best and while it may not hold up to the standards set by so many timeless musicals, it’s an adventure that is worth seeing, and best viewed on the new Blu-ray release.
“Treasure Planet” is available now on Blu-ray via Amazon and other retailers.