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Treasure Planet DVD Review

Treasure Planet movie poster Treasure Planet

Theatrical Release: November 27, 2002 / Running Time: 95 Minutes / Rating: PG

Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker

Voice Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Jim Hawkins), Brian Murray (Long John Silver), David Hyde Pierce (Dr. Doppler), Emma Thompson (Captain Emelia), Martin Short (B.E.N.), Patrick McGoohan (Billy Bones), Roscoe Lee Browne (Mr. Arrow), Laurie Metcalf (Sarah), Michael Wincott (Scroop), Dane A. Davis (Morph), Corey Burton (Onus), Tony Jay (Narrator)

Songs: "I'm Still Here", "Always Know Where You Are"

Buy Treasure Planet from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD DVD Instant Video

Click to read our Treasure Planet: Blu-ray + DVD review.
In July 2012, Disney re-issued Treasure Planet in a 10th Anniversary Blu-ray + DVD combo pack. For our all-new review of this newer edition, click here.


Review by Captain Hook

Watching Disney's original Treasure Island for many would bring back a sense of nostalgia, and for the younger generation, a pleasant adventure. So, the first question in my mind was, "Why in the world would they want to redo it? And it looks like some Atlantis sequel."
Trust me, this is not the film I believed it to be when I first heard about it. I could hardly watch the trailers without making snide comments to my friends - I knew that this time Disney had gone bananas. But, when it finally came out to DVD, I took a chance and watched it - and was blown away.

I realize that Disney's target audience was the teenaged boy (probably not the smartest move). This film truly deserves much more recognition than it has received. The story has a touching, simple message of loyalty, and you will find the characters believable, perhaps more so than in the original. I found this especially true with Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver's relationship.

Since most of you probably know the story, I'll be brief. Jim, the main character, is the son of Sarah Hawkins, who runs the Benbow Inn. It would be easier for her if Jim was more obedient; unfortunately he is brought home by the police. Sarah is crushed.

Jim Hawkins (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meets B.E.N. (voiced by Martin Short) in Disney's "Treasure Planet."

Jim meets a strange spacer named Billy Bones, who warns him to beware of "the cyborg". After handing him a golden ball, Bones dies. Immediately the inn is attacked by a horde of angry pirates, likely after Bones.

After Jim and his friend, Dr. Doppler, discover the golden ball is a map to the legendary Treasure Planet, they hire a crew and the RLS Legacy, manned by Captain Amelia and her right hand man Arrow. But unbeknownst to Jim, the leader of their crew happens to be a cyborg... and it just might be the one Bones warned him to stay away from. Things get more complicated when Jim begins to feel for the cyborg as the father he never knew.

One of the best things about Treasure Planet is that it puts several twists on the original story, such as changing the parrot to being an alien called Morph; the crazy Ben Gunn becomes a robot who lost his memory banks; and the alien characteristics imbedded into the familiar characters also loosened its ties to Treasure Island.

This DVD has been probably the best single-disc release ever by the Disney Company, filled with extras. In fact, in the DVD credits it lists this as a "Special Edition." By looking at the amount of Bonus Features, you can see why. The DVD comes with a four-page insert.

Buy Treasure Planet from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned
Release Date: April 29, 2003
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
THX-Certified
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 (Reduced from $29.99)

VIDEO and AUDIO

Video is exceptionally clear; in fact, I did not notice any flaws at all. Obviously, Disney made sure that it had a clean and crisp transfer. This movie has been THX-certified, and has the THX Optimizer in the Set Up menu.

There is absolutely no complaint about audio in any form. The Dolby Digital 5.1 uses all speakers in the right moments, giving more excitement to the already exciting movie. There are French and Spanish tracks available, as well as captions in English for the Hearing Impaired.

Treasure Planet's DVD offers a high-tech Main Menu.

BONUS MATERIALS

The elaborate menus take way too long to load, but they are nice looking, and remaining true to the spirit of the movie, with its 3-dimensional map orbs.

There are four areas in the bonus feature menus: Intergalactic Space Adventures, Deleted Scenes, Visual (and Audio) Commentary, and finally Behind-the-Scenes.

Intergalactic Space Adventures was obviously for the child (or what Disney would call "family") audiences.

The first feature is the "RLS Legacy Virtual 3D Tour and Treasure Hunt". You can tour the ship either in the Technical or Nautical Tours, or go on the Treasure Hunt where you find eight golden map balls
which unlock a secret deleted scene of the original meeting between Jim Hawkins and Billy Bones (2:13). It was worth playing the game once to see the deleted scene.

Right after the tour is the "DisneyPedia", which runs just under 12 minutes. This child encyclopedia divides into "Pirate Definitions", "Pirate Flags", "Real Pirates", "Code of Conduct", "Pirate Ships", and "Treasures: Lost and Found". You can play all at once or watch each separately. These clips have sections from many beloved Disney movies such as Peter Pan and Blackbeard's Ghost, as well as Treasure Island and The Little Mermaid.

"Disney Animation Magic" is a combination of several behind-the-scenes shorts hosted by Roy E. Disney. This runs for about 15 minutes, and the only reason to watch it would be to see Roy or if you'd rather not watch everything in the Behind-the-Scenes section.

The final extra is John Rzeznik's music video of "I'm Still Here" (4:13). It is a great song for the movie, but I found the music video boring and hardly worth watching again.

Treasure Hunt Disney Animation Magic with Roy Disney John Rzeznik's "I'm Still Here" music video

The next section was the Deleted Scenes menu, which allows viewers to see three different deleted scenes: "Original Prologue: Adult Jim" (3:00), "Alternate Ending: Rebuilding the Benbow Inn" (1:10), and "Jim Meets Ethan" (1:59). Each deleted scene has an introduction hosted by Ron Clements and John Musker.

The next section is entitled Visual Commentary. I wish had I watched this first and not last. The Visual Commentary combines just about every single behind-the-scenes feature and puts it in the movie so you can watch it in place. This is also an audio commentary with Producer Roy Conli, Ron Clements, John Musker, and a host of others involved with the project. This was a great way to see everything coming together, and the audio commentary was fun and enjoyable to listen to.

The last section, Behind-the-Scenes. was by far the largest. The first section in "Behind-the-Scenes" is "Story", in which you can watch the original theatrical trailer for Treasure Island (2:12). It's ironic that this trailer was not included on the Treasure Island DVD, but is part of the "story" of Treasure Planet. The other feature is the "Story Art Gallery", which has 28 pictures.

The "Art Design" subdivision has a feature on the "Brandywine School" (2:25) about the influence this particular style had on the film. There are three "Still Art Galleries" - Visual Development (128 pictures), Paintings (90 pictures), and Moments (50 pictures). The next feature, "The 70/30 Law" (1:38) focused that 70% of the picture was to look like the original's time period, and that 30% was to be science fiction looking.

Deleted Scene Hook Test Neil Eskuri and Kyle Odermatt talk artistry.

The next section is entitled "The Characters", in which each character had a gallery devoted to them (and sometimes other extras). Jim was the first character (12 pictures); John Silver (37 pictures in slide show format, the "Hook Test" with introduction by Glen Keane (1:02), and the "Silver Arm Test" (0:38)); Dr. Delbert Doppler (10); Captain Amelia (24); Mr. Arrow (7); Scroop (16); Sarah Hawkins (5); Billy Bones (6); Ben (20 pictures in slide show format and the feature "3D Character/2D World" (1:07)); Hands (4); Flint (3); Morph (18); Blind Pew (a deleted character, 4); Pirates (~60); Spaceport Crescentia (~90); and the feature "Maquettes" (3:12), which discussed the first maquette made partially by hand and partially by laser made parts (guess which character!)

"Animation" again shows the "Hook Test" (one of my favorite extras!). There are also two feature: "Animation: Delbert Doppler" in which Sergio Pablos (supervising animator of Doppler) talks about how he liked animating a nerd (1:10), and "Silver Progression Animation" (2:27), in which we can see how rough sketches and computerized parts become Silver in the movie. The final extra is "Pencil Animation", which is split into "Amelia's Cabin" and "Rough Animation to Final Film Comparison". In "Amelia's Cabin", Ken Duncan (supervising animator of Amelia) gives us the rundown of the different approaches to Amelia. He also mentions Emma Thompson (the voice actress) and then we get a glimpse of some rough cuts of Amelia speaking with Doppler and Jim in her cabin. This lasts about 2 minutes. In "Rough Animation to Final Film Comparison" (1:40), John Ripa (supervising animator of Jim) explains that since most DVDs show story board to final film comparisons, Treasure Planet would show rough animation to final. We are shown the scene where Jim first meets BEN.

The "Deleted Scenes" section sends you straight back to the first "Deleted Scenes" menu.

A scene from "Treasure Island" in DisneyPedia Visual Development still

In "Dimensional Staging", four extras are found. The first, "Color Keys", shows 36 pages of four pictures apiece, showing the palettes that were used in movie. The second, "Layout Demonstrations" (1:24), is introduced by Neil Eskuri (artistic coordinator) and Kyle Oder Matt (artistic supervisor).
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We are shown the layouts of the Benbow Inn, the bay in the RLS Legacy, and the core of Treasure Planet. "Treasure Planet Found" (2:09) is again introduced by Neil and Kyle, show the layouts for Treasure Planet as well as the map which Jim finds. "Lighting" (1:13) is the final extra and features a deleted scene of the original Scroop chasing after Jim. I found this interesting just to see some glimpses at the original Scroop (they can be found scattered about the DVD), and would have loved to have part of the Deleted Scenes devoted to some of the original Scroop design work.

As if not already covered, "Merging 2D and 3D Worlds" is the next section. This covers three extras: "Pose Camera" (1:43) again with Neil, explaining how the 2D characters were drawn on the 3D moving RLS Legacy; "Effects Animation" (1:20) which covers the creation of solar sails, the black hole, and the cannon; and a link back to the RLS Legacy: Virtual 3D Tour found in the Space Adventures Section.

"Music", while looking promising, only offered a link back to John Rzeznik's music video (as if I wanted to watch it again).

The final section, "Release" has a Teaser Trailer (1:28), the Theatrical Trailer (2:21), and 2 release posters, which finishes off the extras.

The Sneak Peeks that play at the beginning of the film are Finding Nemo, Brother Bear, Atlantis: Milo's Return (on this DVD it is referred to as Atlantis II), Stitch! The Movie, Miramax's Binoicle: The Movie Mask of Light, and The Lion King Special Edition. In the Sneak Peeks menu you can also watch George of the Jungle 2 and Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky.

Jim Hawkins hangs on as his ship flies through space.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Treasure Planet is one of those films, to recycle a formulaic Disney phrase, "your whole family will enjoy". It has enough adventure and action to ensure you won't be bored, but still retains many of the aspects that make Disney great excellent animation, great story, superb characters, and beautiful music. The Bonus Features will ensure that you will spend hours watching extras. The Visual Commentary alone could have been the only bonus feature and still made this DVD an excellent purchase. So, what are you waiting for?

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Other Reviews of Interest:
Treasure Island (1950) Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
Lilo & Stitch Atlantis: The Lost Empire Finding Nemo The Haunted Mansion
Peter Pan Return to Never Land The Hunchback of Notre Dame Fantasia & Fantasia 2000: The Fantasia Anthology
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Angels in the Outfield
In the Year 2002...: The Santa Clause 2 Tuck Everlasting 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter

Related Interview: Ron Clements & John Musker, writers/directors
of Treasure Planet, The Princess and the Frog, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and Hercules

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Reviewed February 24, 2004.