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Treasure Planet (**)
by Ron Clements & John Musker (Great Mouse Detective and The Little Mermaid), and Bob Edwards (Jade)
swiped from the novel Treasure Island (****) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Principal Cast
Roscoe Lee Browne -- Arrow
Dane A. Davis -- Morph
Joseph Gordon-Levitt -- Jim Hawkins
David Hyde Pierce -- Dr. Doppler
Austin Majors -- Young Jim
Mona Marshall --
Patrick McGoohan -- Billy Bones
Laurie Metcalf -- Sarah
Brian Murray -- John Silver
Martin Short -- B.E.N.
Emma Thompson -- Captain Amelia
Michael Wincott -- Skroopf
Ratings
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Treasure Planet There are worse ways to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon than watching the new Disney animated feature. But there hasn't been a great Disney animated classic since Tarzan (****) and this offering is not even up to last year's Lilo and Stich (***).

The key choices that sink this space-faring galleon are so bad they must have been made by someone with an MBA from a Midwestern university. How else to explain Jim Hawkin's earring, haircut, and attitude. "Look", said the MBA, when the first storyboards were being drawn in 1999, "I have it on the best authority, my own brother-in-law, that this is how all the really cool teens are wearing their hair." And, because there is just no use talking to an MBA from a Midwestern university, nobody pointed out the obvious. Which is that, by the time the film was actually released in 2002, nobody older than nine would be caught dead with a Twentieth Century haircut.

One of the great joys of the novel Treasure Island (and reading that novel is one of the great joys of life) is that the hero, Jim Hawkins, has more character than any of the adults he encounters, the only exception being that old villain Barbeque, also known as Long John, also known as Silver.

The film handles Long John Silver fairly well -- a little obvious, a little overdone, but Robert Newton wasn't available. Much of the artwork is beautiful. The script has some clever lines. But the walking cliché they've turned Jim Hawkins into leaves a big hole in the hull, and ennui rushes in. It doesn't help that there are at least half a dozen singer/songwriters in local venues singing songs far more memorable than the songs in Treasure Planet. "Don't be ridiculous," says our MBA from a Midwestern university. "Why pay Elton John or Phil Collins when we have perfectly good songwriters on staff."

Also, there are some annoying swipes, especially in the beginning -- a few seconds of Jane from Disney's Tarzan, for example. Ever since Walt went to that great Disneyland in the sky, Disney has been swiping its own animation. For all his faults, Walt always insisted on quality animation. He must be turning over in his freezer.

Then, of course, there are the obligatory fart jokes. "Kids think fart jokes are cool," our MBA assures us, forgetting that the golden age of fart jokes is three years old, and this film is rated PG. Certainly, the three-year-old a few rows behind me in the theater giggled at the fart jokes. But for the rest of the film she kept asking, "When will this movie be over?" Someone needs to tell our friend the MBA that it is vomit, not farts, that tickle the modern teen's funny bone.

Of course, the film is a flop, but never fear for the job of our MBA. The one thing MBAs are really good at is finding someone else to take the blame.

So, if America's unilateral educational disarmament hasn't destroyed your vocabulary, spend Saturday afternoon curled up in front of a warm cat, and read Treasure Island.

Copyright © 2002 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.


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