Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Treasure Planet

Reviewed by: Douglas M. Downs

Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
6 to Adult
Animation Adventure IMAX
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures click photos to ENLARGE The RLS Legacy in “Treasure Planet”

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brian Murray, Emma Thompson, David Hyde Pierce, Martin Short | Directed by: John Musker, Ron Clements | Produced by: Roy Conli, John Musker, Ron Clements | Written by: Ron Clements, John Musker, Rob Edwards, Ken Harsha, Kaan Kalyon, Mark Kennedy, Donnie Long, Frank Nissen | Distributor: Disney

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island was one of my favorite books as a young child. Stevenson himself had a difficult relationship with his own father. He felt that his dad was extremely overbearing. The end result was often reflected in stories about boys that were, in fact, fatherless. Many of his stories were also about the conflict between good and evil. Treasure Island was one of the last stories Stevenson penned, inspired to write it while drawing a map for one of his stepsons. This story summed up Robert’s desire to escape life and travel.

The original plot was about a young man named Jim Hawkins, the son of a family who owned a local inn. Following the death of an old sea captain named Billy Bones, Jim and his mother open the sailor’s trunk and discover a map. It is later revealed that this is a treasure map of the famous pirate Captain Flint. The rest of the story follows this young boy’s journey through mutiny, trust and a quest for riches.

“Treasure Planet” is an animated re-envisioning of this classic story in a SciFi setting. If you can imagine taking Stevenson’s story and mixing in one part “Star Wars”, one part “Stargate” and one part X-games, you’ll have the substance of “Treasure Planet”. This combination makes for an interesting hybrid as you can imagine.

This is Disney’s second animated film for the 2002 film year. Directors John Musker and Ron Clements add the technique of “camera movements” to the animation. This is the first major release to use this ground breaking technology. The rest is an interesting mix of computer and hand drawn animation. All of these elements are used to soup up our 18th century pirate’s story.

Voices of David Hyde Pierce, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Emma Thompson in “Treasure Planet”This tale, mates, begins with young Jim Hawkins (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in trouble with the authorities. He has ridden his solar surfboard through a restricted industrial area. The robocops bring Jim straight home to his mother (voiced by Laurie Metcalf) to be incarcerated. Jim’s mom runs an out-of-the way inn and most of her customers are pirates and transients. Things go from bad to worse as a band of pirates are chasing Billy Bones (voiced by Patrick McGoohan). Billy dies on the premises and gives Jim an unusual sphere. This object does not mean much at first because the pirates arrive at the inn and burn the place down while trying to find this small ball themselves. Jim and his mom are rescued by the kindly Dr. Doppler (voiced by David Hyde Pierce). Dr. Doppler is an astrophysicist and together with Jim they discover that the sphere contains a treasure map. The two are soon off to hire a boat and follow their dreams. The ship is owned by a catlike woman named Amelia (voiced by Emma Thompson). She quickly hires a crew that includes Captain John Long Silvers. Captain Silvers (part human and part cyborg) becomes both Jim’s mentor and nemesis. The rest of the adventure follows most of the traditional storyline.

There are moments when Silvers and Jim have sparks of friendship and moments when the two seem to be extreme rivals. “Treasure Planet” is an excellent “PG” visual adventure for children. It uses all 95 minutes in a fast paced story. The film does cover the themes of single parenting and the challenges it raises, greed and rebellion. If you liked and understood the original Stevenson’s classic, you will no doubt enjoy this film. There are plenty of likeable Disney characters (my favorite was a character named Morph). If you do plan to see this film, I recommend the IMAX version (and don’t forget that most IMAX theaters will let you bring your own refreshments, which helps to balance the higher admission charge.)

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—This was a good movie. My 14 year old son liked it better than the new Harry Potter movie. The protagonist, like many of us have been or still are, was confused about what he should do with his life. He found his way during the movie and turned his life around while at the same time making a friend of someone who wanted to kill him. I was encouraged to see a young person make sacrifices while helping his mother. It was also good to see a killer’s heart softened through his relationship with the protagonist.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Mark L. Gilliam, age 41
Positive—…a suspenseful, sci-fi adventure most of the family will enjoy. …One of those strong points is the perennially witty Emma Thompson, who voices the part of Captain Amelia. Why is it that animated features seem to have cornered the market on snappy, crisp dialogue? Thompson’s repartee in this film aimed at children is light years more intelligent than the dialogue contained in the adrenaline fests aimed at teens. I can only assume that because the authors of children’s scripts don’t have the luxury of dipping into clichéd sexual innuendo, they have to work that much harder, and therefore smarter, to entertain. Another rather mixed plus is the grown up theme of fatherly abandonment resulting in teenage rebellion.

Like most Disney protagonists, Jim is missing a parent; however, to Disney’s credit, in Treasure Planet, this fact is given more than just passing attention. We clearly see Jim’s paternal need as he searches to bond with other father figures. However, that said, this could also be material parents might not feel comfortable with their very young children seeing. The film does dwell on Jim’s father leaving and could potentially create fear in youngsters. Also, the villains in Treasure Planet are especially menacing. Depending on how sensitive your child is, I would use caution if he or she is under eight.

A couple other drawbacks: John Rzeznick’s (of the Goo Goo Dolls) music is frankly lame (none of the musical magic of The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast here), and I personally found Martin Short’s robot B.E.N. irritating rather than funny. Overall, though, Treasure Planet delivers the adventure it promises. And since those of you with kids know you’re probably going to have to see it anyway, you might as well sit back and enjoy the ride!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Megan Basham
Positive—…full of adventure, amazing animation and surprisingly complex characters. As well, this is probably one of the more family friendly entries they have produced in several years. …I found myself very impressed and excited to see this strange world, a hybrid of Treasure Island and “Star Wars”… From a biblical perspective, this film did impress me in its exploration of conscience and caring in the relationship between Silver and Jim Hawkins. It’s also much more suited to a young audience then its predecessor Atlantis. There is some “Star Wars” style, bloodless, laser blasting violence; some adventure peril that might scare very young kids; a female alien in a somewhat tight outfit; and a flatulence joke that I can remember. Other than this I can remember nothing else Christians might find objectionable—the worldview of the film is not Christian per se, but I found it much more morally grounded than many recent Disney films and I recommend this film for most families.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Kevin Burk, age 31
Positive—I took 3 of my children to see this movie (ages ranging from 4-7 years) They LOVED this movie and I have to admit that I did too. No dull moments and no offensive language. I enjoyed the moral of the story. What my children and I got out of the movie was that even those that don’t have picture perfect childhoods can take control of their lives and be proud of who they become. Most of the kid’s movies released as of late have not even attempted to have some meaning or moral. I would recommend this movie for the purpose that it was created for: A fun tickling of the imagination of those who want a break from reality for an hour and a half or so! It delivers! :)
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Sheilah Doyle, age 31
Positive—This movie is an excellent film for families. Those of you who read Treasure Planet by Rober Luis Stevensen as a youngster will not be let down by this movies faithfullness to the book while adding some intriguing and quite modern twists (particularly for todays younger generations). A single parent child facing his own modern day difficulties is a situation many children today (such as myself) can easily relate to. Watching young Hawkins persevere when life presents hurdles is an important message for youngsters today. With such loveable characters as Dr. Doppler, Jim Hawkins, Morph and even the character who speaks in flatulence (which is comical for kids, and if found offensive by adults then loosen up) this movie is both entertaining and of clean family quality.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Hannah, age 19
Positive—This movie is a truly delightful, quite creative re-creation of “Treasure Island”. If you know the story, you will mostly know what to expect (i.e., Jim’s developing relationship with the pirate, the mutiny, crazy Ben, Jim’s moral dilemma around the end of the movie with regards to the pirate). What you will not expect are such things as a cute critter with morphing abilities instead of a parrot, the hazard that the crew will face on their space voyage, what type of critter (human? alien?) Ben will turn out to be.

It all works together for a very tantelizing sci-fi/fantasy adventure. The only caution I could see might be the violence which gave the movie its PG rating—nothing gross or severe, but it might be intense, at least for the younger children. Some may find the creature who speaks in flatulence (don’t ask!) mildly offensive. On the moral plus side, Jim develops from an angry, rebellious teen—a consequence of his father abandoning the family—to a mature, responsible young man. The pirate (I forgot his name—oops!) is also transformed through love from and for Jim and even sacrifices for him (I’m not giving away anything, though). I would qualify this one as a recommended movie to see.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Deanna Marquart, age 32
Positive—“Treasure Planet” has to be one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. The “flatulence” creature didn’t offend me, since that is its native language, in the movie. As for sex, I saw nothing wrong with it in this movie. Captain Amelia is dressed in tight clothing, but it’s never used lustfully. Delbert does fall in love with her, and we can assume they got married. The violence is “Good vs. Evil” in a lot of ways, and Scroop does show me how unattractive and ungodly evil can truly be.

As for repentance, Mr. Silver does save Jim’s life instead of choosing worldly wealth. The only thing I did see wrong is Silver does flee the law at the end of the movie. However, I always tell myself God will forgive an outlaw on the run, and, perhaps, Silver will one day meet mercy with repentance. Jim’s character is so similar to many American youths today, who are struggling with ungodly parents. I am thankful he grows into a decent young man, and his journey was a vast leap on the maturity scale. The black hole scene does get intense, but the fact that everyone remains calm depicts the truth that one must remain calm to keep everything on the right track.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Peter, age 22 (USA)
Negative—“Treasure Planet” seemed to be another adventerous movie by Disney however it delivers a healthy dose of Gen-Y angst! The theater was filled primarily with children under 10 and this movie should be rated PG-13 for sure. I was shocked they included such graphic death scenes and the father leaving the main characters family. The overall theme at the end-you are the captain of your own destiny and you chart the course of your life. This was a real disappointment and served too many agendas for my taste!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3½]
—Wes Geiger, age 37
Negative—The animation is nifty, the voice acting is good, but the story is a mere parody of a real classic. My kids (ages three and six) watched “Treasure Planet” on video twice. Next I brought home the 1934 black-and-white version of “Treasure Island.” To date my kids have watched it at least six times. Apparently they relate better to young Jackie Cooper as Jim Hawkins than to Disney’s angry juvenile delinquent. Sizzle doesn’t always trump substance.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Kevin Scrivner, age 43
Movie Critics
…may not be the most anticipated holiday release, but it’s definitely one of the best…
—Bob Smithouser, Focus on the Family
…a rip-roaring thrill ride of a movie that will excite young and old alike…
—Michael Elliott, Movie Parables
…1 mild anatomical term, 1 mild obscenity, name-calling…
Comments from young people
Positive—This was a very good movie. While it had nothing extraordinary to offer to a Christian audience, there was nothing morally questionable about it, and it’s superior to other questionable Disney films. Character development was good this time around; Jim is a misunderstood, slightly rebellious, angsty, and brooding teen (who isn’t at that age, especially without a dad?) that, along the way, learns a lesson or two about trust, as well as what his father was never there to teach him.

Silver was not your typical crazy, pure evil Disney villain; he had his moral dilemmas which made him believable and interesting; not to mention he portrays a good lesson. The secondary characters were charming as well, B.E.N and Dr. Doppler were hilarious, and Captain Amelia Smollet’s wit was dry enough to fit her English accent.

The action scenes were marvelous to look at on the big screen. The plot was very fast-paced (I didn’t dare take a restroom break). On the technical side, it’s well produced and looks marvelous; although the obvious difference between traditional and computer animation will be rather awkward-looking in a few scenes. All and all, a great film for the kids (and the parents won’t want to fall asleep).
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Kathleen Walker, age 17
Positive—Wow, I really liked this movie. Besides being unlike anything I’ve seen before-who would ever imagine Treasure Island in Space?-but It also provoked Disney’s trademark morals. The movie managed to take the concept of wooden 16th century boats floating around in space and keep it visually wonderful without being childish and silly. The story is a entertaining and endlessly creative twist of the original. The movie was just to short for a 5/5 however.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—L.S. Loewen, age 16
Positive—This is a wonderful movie! If you are a child or a teen definitely go see it. The graphics are way cool, the characters are funny and entertaining and the song “I’m still here” is inspiring. The only possible offensive things I can see in this movie is some violence (not gory), a little bodily function humour, some intense supernova scenes that might scare young kids, and a female in a slightly tight suit. The movie has twists and turns, which make it great and a wonderful theme of friendship runs thru the movie. This is a must see movie.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Yvonne Emilie, age 14
Positive—I wanted to see this movie after I figured out that one of my favorite songs (“I’m Still Here”) went to the movie. So, I checked it out and it seemed to be quite a good movie for me to go to. So, I begged my parents to let me go but, they weren’t nessecarily interested in a kid’s movie. So, my sister, Bethany decided that they would take me to go to see it yesterday.

Wow—It truly changed my life. It’s a story of someone a little like me, often misunderstood… often disappoints people… and often fails. It showed me that no matter what, I’m special. No matter what, I mean something to someone… especially God. And it also showed me, no matter what—always believe in my dreams. No matter what, know I can do whatever I set my heart and mind to… after all, it was a great movie. And all kids and teens will find a great liking to Jim Hawkins. He is after all… just like me, just like most teens and kids… I say, go to see it—the entire family. Maybe you all will learn something.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Anna, age 11
Positive—“Treasure Planet” is, in my opinion, one of Disney’s most underrated movies ever created. I love it! The story is an imaginative, fresh, and heartwarming take on the old story “Treasure Island.” It is an excellently well-done movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Thomas, age 14 (USA)