Movie #44 in the Disney Animated Marathon takes us on a journey, a journey that should be fantastic, but isn’t!
Screenplay By: Rob Edwards & Ron Clements & John Musker
Directed By: Ron Clements & John Musker
I don’t have a problem with the story idea behind Treasure Planet. The idea of taking Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island and importing the piracy into the future is very, very appealing. Flying ships, solar sails and swashbuckling in an era where swashbuckling shouldn’t exist appeal to me at least, and it’s my blog so that’s all that matters. My problem comes in the presentation of said re-imagining, what should have been a wealth of imagination brought to the screen is instead a series of moments that don’t quite gel together.
The best way to break down Treasure Planet is to realize that it is a series of off kilter moments. It can be very funny and witty one moment, then the next it slides down the veranda and goes for humor of the lowest common denominator. For every character that is deep and complex like John Silver there is a character like Mr. Arrow who is as one dimensional as a character can be. In one scene the action draws you in, thrilling the eye with what it is seeing, then in the next scene the action is mundane and by the numbers, taking on a ho-hum quality. Treasure Planet never comes together as a whole movie, it’s a maddening series of moments, some of which work, but the majority of which don’t.
Perhaps the most divisive element of Treasure Planet will be its animation. On its own the digital animation is quite stellar. When all I was looking at was the hand drawn animation, I couldn’t help but feel a twinkle in my eye at the smooth lines and lushness of the work. When you take the two art forms and put them next to each other you have a series of images that don’t belong together. The digital animation looks fake in the background when hand drawn animation is flying in front of it. The hand drawn characters never fully immerse themselves into their surroundings, and they can’t because some sort of visible barrier has been created between the two styles of animation. On their own either style of animation looks splendid, but viewed as one Treasure Planet failed to capture my attention for any of the right reasons.
It’s hard to see at this point in time why Disney’s animation studios began their downhill trend, or were in the middle of it depending on your view. The creativity and talent are clearly present to produce the same stellar product that Disney became known for throughout the years. Yet for one reason or another the creativity is stunted by the lack of cohesion it maintains with the talent at hand. Treasure Planet is a great example of a Disney film that should have been great, but ends up less than memorable. Better days were behind Disney at this point, and some brighter days lay ahead, but it’s still frustrating to know what Treasure Planet could have been compared to what it ended up as.