Release Date: November 27th, 2002
Inspiration: “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson
Budget: $140 million
Domestic Gross: $38.1 million
Worldwide Gross: $109.5 million
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%
IMDB Score: 7.2/10
Storyline (per IMDB): In this science fiction rendering of the classic novel “Treasure Island”, Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a rebellious teen seen by the world as an aimless slacker. After he receives a map from a dying pirate, he embarks on an odyssey across the universe to find the legendary Treasure Planet
Pre-Watching Thoughts: We continue our trek through the 2000s with another film that much like Atlantis: The Lost Empire has slipped through the cracks and this is one that the majority of people have probably never even heard of. Obviously, “Treasure Island” is one of the more popular books of all time so to see a unique take on it seemed like an interesting idea, and this is another film that I have never seen before and hopefully this one proves to be on the same level as Lilo and Stitch.
Voice Cast: For the first time in quite a long while, we have a cast that is in essence all newcomers with the exception of one actor and that is Tony Jay who voices the narrator at the beginning of the film in one of his last roles prior to his death 4 years later. Aside from him, the entire cast is brand new to Disney films and we start off with Joseph Gordon-Levitt who voices Jim Hawkins as he was starting to come into his own at this point in his young career, and then we have Brian Murray who voices John Silver in one of his lone film roles of his career. We then have David Hyde Pierce who voices Dr. Delbert Doppler as he was transitioning from film to TV and theater, and then we have Dame Emma Thompson who voices Capt. Amelia as she was starting to hit the peak of her career. Next, we have Martin Short who voices B.E.N. as he was in the prime of his career to this point, and then we have Roscoe Lee Browne who voices Mr. Arrow as he was nearing the end of his career. We then have Laurie Metcalf who voices Sarah Hawkins and this wouldn’t be her lone appearance in a Disney film, and then we have Dane Davis who provides the sound effects for Morph. Next, we have Michael Wincott who voices Mr. Scroop as he was also hitting the peak of his career at this point, and then we have Patrick McGoohan who voices Billy Bones in his final film role and finally we have Peter Cullen who voices Capt. Flint in a minor role though he will forever be remembered as Optimus Prime in the Transformers series. It is pretty refreshing seeing brand new casts in each film while also occasionally bringing in some familiar voices, and we will see going forward if this approach continues on or if we go back to having a more balanced cast.
Hero/Prince: Our hero of the film is a pretty interesting character and that is Jim Hawkins who as a child is enthralled by the stories of Treasure Planet, but as a young adult he is a rebel and an outcast due to his father leaving and he shuts his mother out of his life. After Billy Bones crash lands at his feet, Bones urges him to protect something important as pirates arrive and destroy his mother’s inn while Jim, his mom, and their friend Dr. Doppler escape to safety. They learn the item is a map to the planet so Jim and Doppler commission a crew to sail there, but Jim is relegated to being an assistant to the cook John Silver who takes him under his wing with Jim unaware that Silver is a pirate planning to take over. When they do, Jim, Doppler, and Capt. Amelia escape the ship and land on the planet where they meet B.E.N., and Jim returns to the ship to retrieve the map though they are captured by Silver and his men. They learn the map opens up a secret portal which leads to the treasure though they trip a booby trap that leads to the destruction of the planet, and Jim takes the lead as he manages to bring the ship to the portal and reach their home in time before the planet explodes. Jim lets Silver leave and Silver gives him some of the treasure that is used to rebuild the inn while Jim also becomes an interstellar cadet. Jim is a classic case of an underachiever who is considered a loser to the point that he begins to believe it himself, and he feels responsible for the destruction of his mother’s inn so he makes it a point to redeem himself. He comes to see Silver as a father figure despite Silver only using him for his plan though he ultimately comes to his senses, and Jim becomes a hero as he finally becomes the man he was destined to be. I don’t know how he will end up ranking against the other heroes in the canon, but it will be interesting to see.
Villain: This is perhaps the most interesting situation we’ve had to this point because there isn’t a clear-cut villain for this film, but instead we have someone that might somewhat fit the description that is John Silver. He is assigned to be the cook for the ship though he secretly is the leader of a gang of pirates who plan to steal the treasure when they arrive on the planet, and he is given Jim Hawkins as his aide and he first tries to grind him down to a point where he won’t be a factor though he begins to warm up to him. After Jim learns of his plans, Silver leads the revolt and nearly kills Jim though he can’t do it as Jim escapes with Doppler and Amelia, and they follow them to the island where Silver tries to deal with Jim who refuses and Silver threatens to kill him if he doesn’t have the map. Jim retrieves the map and leads Silver and the pirates to the center of the planet where the treasure is, but they trip a booby trap and the planet begins to destroy itself. Silver tries to steal a ship from Jim to escape as Jim is nearly killed, but Silver decides to forego the treasure and saves Jim as they guide the ship to the portal and escape just before the planet explodes. Silver decides to take a ship and leave as Jim gives his blessing and Silver leaves him some treasure for rebuilding his mother’s inn before leaving into space. Silver is an interesting character as he has only one goal and that is treasure like a typical pirate, but after meeting Jim he starts to sway in his beliefs though he tries to continue on his path only to finally do the right thing in the end when he saves Jim. Obviously, he is not a typical villain so he will not rank high especially since he redeems himself in the end, but I do have someone else to talk about and that is Mr. Scroop who is part of Silver’s crew. He has a confrontation with Jim and nearly kills him until Silver stops him and then when the ship is nearly sucked into a black hole, Scroop causes Mr. Arrow to be sucked into the black hole. After Silver and the pirates take control of the ship, Scroop is left to guard the ship and duels with Jim which leads to Scroop being tangled up in the pirate flag and he drifts off into space. While Scroop is more evil than Silver, he is just a typical henchman as opposed to the main villain so he won’t rank high either.
Other Characters: Given that this film takes place in space, you would figure that there would be a lot of characters involved since they would visit numerous worlds though we ultimately don’t get that and there are only a few characters to talk about. First, we have Jim’s mother Sarah who runs the Benbow Inn and is losing patience with her son and the direction he is going, and after Billy Bones crashes at the inn a group of pirates chasing him destroy the inn. When Jim and Doppler learn they have a map to Treasure Planet, Sarah is hesitant to see them go though Jim assures her that he will make things right, and after they return he uses the treasure to rebuild the inn and they become close again. We then have Dr. Delbert Doppler who is an astronomer and close friend of the Hawkins’ as he takes them in after Sarah’s inn is destroyed, and after they find the map he commissions a voyage and puts together a crew to find Treasure Planet. He becomes smitten with Capt. Amelia who comes to like him in return and after Silver leads a mutiny, they escape to the planet and Doppler nurses Amelia back to health. As the planet starts to explode, he takes the helm of the ship and is able to lead the ship to the portal in time, and eventually he marries Amelia and they have four children as they continue to be friend with Sarah and Jim. Next, we have Captain Amelia who helms the ship heading to Treasure Planet and she initially is cold to Jim and Doppler, but when Silver leads a mutiny she battles back until they escape to the planet though she is wounded. Doppler nurses her back to health and she starts to fall in love with him, and after they escape the planet and return home she marries Doppler and they have four children. We then have the creature called Morph who can take any form and he is loyal to Silver though he befriends Jim, and it stays at Jim’s side during the mutiny and in the end Silver asks Morph to look after Jim which he does. Next, we have the robot B.E.N. who lives on Treasure Planet though he has no memory and he has been left behind on the planet, and he assists Jim as they retrieve the map and they reach the center of the planet and the treasure. Jim finds a piece of B.E.N. that restores his memory though he is too late to tell them about the booby trap, and he helps them escape the planet just before it destroys and he remains friends with Jim as he helps Sarah at her inn. We then have Mr. Arrow who is Amelia’s second-in-command and he is fiercely loyal to her and when they try to escape the black hole he works to keep the sails in tact though Scroop cuts his lifeline and Arrow is sucked into the black hole. Next, we have Capt. Flint who we see in the story at the beginning where he steals various treasures and leaves them on a hidden planet, and finally we have Billy Bones who crashes at the inn and entrusts Jim with the map before Silver and the pirates destroy the inn. We also have minor characters throughout the film like those that stay at the inn, the numerous sailors at the port, and the other members of the crew that are mostly part of Silver’s crew. This seems to be becoming the norm in that we have a lot of characters show up and only a handful of them are totally important, and I have a feeling that is going to stay the same going forward.
Songs: I wanted to make a clarification so that there is no confusion going forward in that if a song is put in a film that was released previously, it will not be counted and an example of this are the songs by Elvis used for Lilo and Stitch as well as the orchestral pieces in both Fantasia films. On the flip side, if a song was written specifically for the film even if sung by a major artist, it will be included in this category. Case in point, we have two songs that are in this film with the first being “I’m Still Here” which is heard during the voyage when Jim and Silver start becoming friends and it is a fine song for the moment. The other song is “Always Know Where You Are” which is mainly heard at the end of the film and as the credits start, and again it is a perfectly fine song though both of them are fairly forgettable in the long run.
Plot: As I mentioned earlier, “Treasure Island” is one of the more recognized books in history and since its release in 1883, it is perhaps one of the most adapted novels of all time as there have been numerous visual adaptations of the novel since 1918. Now most of those adaptations follow the actual novel while this one takes a unique spin on it and while the plot is mostly the same, it takes place in the future in a distant galaxy. In this version, Jim Hawkins is an outcast that stays with his mother at her inn and a pirate named Billy Bones crashes near the inn, and he entrusts Jim with something important as a group of pirates arrive and destroy the inn. Jim and Dr. Doppler learn the object is a map that leads to “Treasure Planet” which houses all the treasure stole by legendary pirate Capt. Nathanial Flint, and they bring together a crew and obtain a ship as they sail to find the planet. Jim is placed under the command of the cook John Silver who is secretly a pirate along with the crew who plan to steal the treasure for himself, and he befriends Jim though sticks to his plan as they take over the ship and Jim, Doppler, and Capt. Amelia flee the ship and land on the planet. Jim meets B.E.N. and after recovering the map from the ship, they are captured by Silver who has them use the map to lead to the center of the planet. They learn the map opens a portal that can lead to anywhere in the galaxy including the center of the planet where the treasure is being kept, but they trigger a booby trap set up by Flint which causes the destruction of the planet. Silver ultimately saves Jim from death and along with Doppler, Morph, Amelia, and B.E.N., they escape through the portal just before the planet explodes. Silver leaves Jim with some treasure and departs on his own journey as Jim returns home, and he uses the treasure to rebuild his mother’s inn and he becomes an interstellar cadet. It is always interesting when they take a novel that is set in one location and they transport it to a new location which could work though sometimes it feels out of place, and while taking this novel into space and the future felt like a bit of a risk it was one worth taking to add another dimension to this beloved novel.
Random Watching Thoughts: No fancy opening logo for this film; If there is one thing that I wish they would’ve explained at some point, it is the fact that these creatures can travel in space and breathe normally despite there being no atmosphere; Another thing that is never explained is what happened to humanity as Jim and Sarah are the only humans we see in the film and everyone else is an alien; We are either far into the future or in a different galaxy where technology is far advanced as Jim has a book that instead of pop-ups, it has holographic pictures; You can tell that Sarah still believes it to be a legend, yet tells Jim that it’s real to appease him; Again, we are in a world where hover surfboards are a thing yet it is never revealed what timeframe it is; Did Jim really think he wasn’t going to get in trouble by flying through that field; The Benbow Inn literally looks like a standard building from Earth that was transplanted onto this planet and given upgrades on the inside; So on this planet, doughnuts are spheroids and eggs are lunar eclipses; That frog kid was totally disgusted with the doughnuts and eggs while indulging in his bowl of jelly worms; So Doppler is basically a humanoid dog and Sarah gives him his food in dog bowls; Why are the parents of the frog girl just letting her go up to a random table and take that person’s food?; Doppler was right the first time as kids can be deplorable at times; Sarah assumes that Jim is getting better as he is escorted into the inn by the robot cops; They’ve arrested him so many times that even Jim knows the exactly rules that he has broken; That awkward moment when everyone is listening on the conversation and then they go back to their business like they haven’t been paying attention; He’s willing to just stay on the roof while a thunderstorm comes rolling in; Bones says they’ll have to pry it from his cold, dead fingers as he is literally dying from his injuries; So when the weather’s bad, they can just change the windows to showcase a beautiful day; That’s a pretty small object to keep in such a large chest; They even have a futuristic horse and carriage; Doppler says it will take years to unlock the sphere yet Jim does it in a matter of seconds; Sarah’s only decision to keep them from leaving is to ground them both; At least Doppler was honest with Sarah that he really wanted to go; So the planet’s moon is essentially a space port, but wouldn’t there need to be a port on the planet to get to the moon and if so, can’t they just have a port on the planet?; Everything feels very futuristic yet the ships still look like they were built in the 1800s; Doppler is dressed like they are going on a deep sea adventure when they are going into space; So in case anyone is interested, the callsign R.L.S. is a tribute to the author Robert Louis Stevenson; There is an actual language called Flatula which deals with speaking in flatulence; Amelia is right to be a bit paranoid given how quickly a crew can turn on someone if treasure is involved; “A ludicrous parcel of driveling galoots”, Amelia certainly doesn’t mince her words; I feel like Jim knew immediately that Silver was the one that attacked the inn; I guess being a cyborg does have its advantages; Bonzabeast stew, just sounds so appetizing; I don’t know Doppler, does an active galactic nucleus have superluminal jets?; Jim is trying hard to get Silver to crack though Silver stays committed to being oblivious; At least they were smart to include that the ship has artificial gravity so they can’t float away in space; Space whales because yeah, they’re a thing too; A mop and a bucket, just the friends that Jim wanted; That one member calls Jim weird as his head crawls onto the barrel; I feel like we saw Mr. Scroop at the beginning of the film as a member of Flint’s crew; He tells Morph to keep an eye on Jim and Morph decides to help him a bit; Silver was intending to run Jim ragged so he wouldn’t learn of the plan yet he becomes attached to him, and of course we need a montage for that; Silver is now clearly conflicted as he has become close to Jim yet still wants to stick to his plan; Of course they would happen to come across a star that turned into a supernova; They go from one extreme with a supernova to another extreme with a black hole; They went through all the trouble to secure the sails only to have to turn around and release them; They fall into the abyss of the black hole only for an explosion to blow them away to safety; Scroop was smart to untie the lifeline because if it was still attached, it would’ve drawn some suspicion; Instead of yelling at Jim, Amelia puts over Mr. Arrow as a sailor which was the right thing to do; Again, Silver has clearly become attached to Jim even though he still has his plan; Whack-a-Morph; Aliens even have their own pirate flags; Is Morph actually trying to get the map for Silver or is just wanting to play with Jim?; Doppler is like of course, I totally aimed for that thing; Morph is just acting like a dog wanting to play not aware that lives are in danger; That was quite the crash landing for them to escape relatively unscathed; B.E.N. has clearly not seen any life forms in many years which is why he is so happy to see Jim; He obviously hasn’t lost all of his memory if he can remember some of the details, albeit very vaguely; It’s not often that you see a dog and a cat in love with each other; Even being promised treasure doesn’t sway Jim because he feels betrayed by Silver; B.E.N. is just way too loud to be on a stealth mission with Jim; He tells B.E.N. to wait there and B.E.N. randomly decides to shut down the laser cannons; Find the one little wire amongst the hundreds of little wires; I don’t think now was the time for Morph to turn into a pie to attack Scroop; He would just happen to pull the wire to turn off the gravity; Amelia tells him not to do it and Doppler tells him to before changing course and agreeing with Amelia; If it’s not B.E.N.’s life passing by his eyes, whose life is he seeing?; If she didn’t knock him to the ground, he would never have found where the orb goes to unlock the portal; Of all the things to set off the booby trap, of course they would go with the common trope of a laser on the floor that sets off a chain reaction; “Jaws” reference; So Flint just sat in his ship guarding his treasure until his death; If only B.E.N. had gotten his memory back before they tripped the booby trap; He tells the crew to come back even though he knows the planet is destroying itself; Of all the times to have thin wrists, it would be so Doppler could slip out of his restraints; That moment when Silver realizes he has to choose between the treasure and Jim; Silver is confident that he will get over a lifelong obsession; Of course, we have to have one last bit of drama right before the ending; Jim’s space surfing skills finally come into play; Amelia being a backseat captain; I didn’t know robots could cry; Jim would’ve been a pirate at the start of the film, but now he is responsible and needs to go his own way; Morph was all too happy to stay at Jim’s side when Silver asked him to; So apparently when dogs and cats have babies, the girls are cats and the boys are dogs; The officers went from calling Jim a loser to shaking his hand and saluting him; A robot doing the robot dance; Honestly, that visual of Silver in the clouds is a bit creepy.
Overall Thoughts: Overall, this was a fairly average film that was a clear step down from the previous film and so far, the 2000s films have not been faring too well which is pretty disappointing. Having never seen any of these films, I was hoping that perhaps I would be pleasantly surprised by them especially since some people consider these films to be underrated though so far that has not been the case. After the last decade of really good films, the 2000s have not gotten off to a great start and looking ahead at the upcoming films, I’m not feeling good about this changing though I will remain optimistic because that’s how I am. As for this specific film, it is a fairly average film that ranks on the lower end of the films in the Disney canon.
Final Grade: 4.5/10