Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island may not be one of my favorite books, but I’ve always found the story interesting. It is a very cinematic story, and for that reason it has been adapted many times. Suprisingly, Disney didn’t do an animated version of this before the studio’s live-action adaptation in 1950. In 2002, it finally came out, but instead of being a straight adaptation of Stevenson’s novel, it took place in space and in the future and it was called Treasure Planet. The movie is sort of a landmark in animation as it tried to go further with the mixing of CG and traditional animation, and that cost a pretty penny ($140 million, to be exact). In the end, it was a fiancial failure, grossing only $38 million in the U.S, and $110 million worldwide. Truth be told, it’s not as bad as those numbers would have you believe, but it’s not good either, and a far cry from the great Disney movies.
I tried thinking about some nice thing to say about this, but I can’t really find anything. The animation is alright. I appreciate the ambition of trying to combine CG and 3D in a more expansive way, but ultimately it is far too distracting and in some scenes the two methods clash to the point of distraction. The character design is bland. Not their best, but far from their worst.The voice performances are nothing impressive. There’s just nothing overtly impressive about it.
However, I can find some negatives about it. The worst thing of all, the one thing that overshadows everything is the lack of creativity. Okay, so you want to put Treasure Island in space? Fine, but just don’t take that same story with a pirate ship that can fly, some uninspired characters, and a boring script and make it. It’s like the people behind it, from the writer/directors to the animators had no imagination whatsoever. A straight adaptation would have been better. This story without the seas just doesn’t work.
Treasure Planet is a good try at taking a story that has been done to death and trying to make it fresh. However, it lacked the creativity and the novel’s excitemen to make it a good movie. It is a noble failure.