Treasure Planet (Blu-ray)

July 27, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Even as a child, Jim Hawkins (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) dreamed of wild adventures of all kinds. He loved to read books about pirates and in particular, he was enthralled with the story of a massive amount lost treasure. His mother told him Treasure Planet was just a legend, but he knew it could be real. As a young adult, Jim still seeks that adventure, but he finds it in situations that land him in trouble. Although he was already on probation, Jim decided to break some rules and engage in some dangerous aerial antics, which landed him back in hot water. After the robotic police dropped him off, Jim was still restless, but one more incident and he would be taken from his home, to reside in juvenile hall. But the adventure he had been waiting for is soon to arrive, when the chance to seek out Treasure Planet becomes a reality. He signs on to be a cabin boy under Captain Amelia (voiced by Emma Thompson) and while it won’t be easy, it is a chance to escape the doldrums that plagued him at home. He quickly befriends the ship’s cook John Silver (voiced by Brian Murray), who has a cyborg arm with countless gizmos. But Jim has a gizmo of his own, a special golden sphere that was given to him by a dying pirate. Is this the key to Treasure Planet, as some think, or will Jim and the others have to use a different method to find the mythical place?

I was kind of surprised when Treasure Planet sank at the box office, as the previews were well crafted and the premise seemed cool. But then again, I tend to look into any kind of pirate themed pictures, so maybe its just me. The once mighty Disney animation corps has suffered through some bombs of late, but in truth, I don’t think Treasure Planet is as bad as profits reflect, it was just a hard sell to some folks. I mean, we have a combination of old world pirates and futuristic sci/fi, which is an odd mixture, to be sure. And while these elements are meshed with skill here, some corners were cut in some areas. Perhaps too much time was spent on the concept, instead of on the actual storyline and characters. I say this because Disney usually gives us a strong central character, but in this movie, that isn’t the case. The main character is thin in all respects and while some of the smaller ones are humorous, they’re not well developed. This leads to some problems with the storyline flow, which grinds down the movie at times. You can’t complain about the visuals though, as Treasure Planet is a virtual feast for the eyes. The vivid colors and seamless mix of traditional & computer animation provides a stunning experience. I found Treasure Planet to be a solid, but unremarkable effort, which is a shame, as the premise has real potential.

Video: How does it look?

I’d never seen Treasure Planet until it arrived on Blu-ray, but knowing that Disney treats their animated titles with such care, I didn’t think I’d be disappointed.  The 1.66:1 AVC HD image looks downright amazing.  There was the slightest bit of banding in the opening shot, but aside from that and a couple of other instances here and there, it’s an astonishing transfer.  Colors are bright and bold, detail is exquisite and the entire film seems to have nearly a 3D effect (despite not being shown in 3D).  We’ve all become so used to the computer animated films looking so good that when you go back and watch a 2D film, it’s nice to have it look nearly as good.  For those that have never seen Treasure Planet – it looks amazing.

Audio: How does it sound?

According to our review of the DVD, it featured a Dolby Digital EX track.  That’s something you don’t and most likely won’t hear a lot of anymore, but that said this new DTS-HD Master Audio track more than does its job.  Every sound seems to resonate with the utmost clarity.  Dialogue is, of course, crisp and clean and even the “pirate” speak sounds great.  Surrounds are heard often, adding some atmosphere to an already very active soundtrack.  Like the video presentation, this audio mix is second to none.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Treasure Island is no Pixar film, nor is it one of their marquee titles.  Still, the supplements are all intact from the 2003 DVD.  The commentary features directors Ron Clements and John Musker, producer Roy Conli, and several members of the animation team. You can either simply listen to the comments, or opt for a special visual commentary mode, in which snippets of video are available at certain moments. I was underwhelmed by this feature, though some of the audio comments are interesting, but the visual commentary option is poorly executed here. If you venture into the behind the scenes section, you’ll find a wealth of supplements, such as animation & pencil tests, extensive still photos & additional artwork, numerous brief behind the scenes featurettes, a John Rzeznik music video, and two of the film’s theatrical trailers. But that’s not all, as we have some deleted scenes, a Disneypedia featurette on pirates, and a special look at the Disney animation process. A DVD of the film is also included on a second disc.

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