Treasure Planet was released in 2002 by Disney after two directors, Ron Clements and John Musker, had just created “The Black Cauldron“, which did not do well financially. They were struggling to convince Disney to release it, and spent years struggling to get the script approved, but eventually, their vision of “Treasure Island” in space came to be. The movie, while bold in its decision to use CGI, 3D and 2D animation all blended together at the same time, and incredible abilities to build a unique world around the characters, was not received well by critics. It was an amazing, beautiful movie to see as a young kid, and I think it deserves more credit than it got in its own time.
The movie has beautiful aesthetics, with a wonderful blend of the three different styles of animation I listed above, and uses them in such unique and new ways for the time it was created in. The backgrounds are beautiful, hand-drawn 2D art that often took my breath away. On top of this, they have beautifully rendered CGI creatures, massive and well-made that sit right beside the 3D characters and don’t feel out of place. It is the most visually appealing movie I can think of in terms of early 2000’s animation, and every time I watch, I realize how well it has aged over time, not thinking once that the animation looks dated or bad.
The story is also surprisingly unique for a movie based on a story like Treasure Island. It takes what you know from its source material and throws a whole bunch of twists in that change just about everything, and it makes it so much more interesting than a simple copy and paste into a new genre. The characters are all unique and interesting, wonderful interpretations of the originals, with several little tweaks that only make you enjoy them so much more in the end. The surprise theme that I never expected to find in this movie was the continual idea of what it means to be a father, and how it can affect a kid when their father walks out on them while they’re young. To keep it vague and avoid spoilers, let’s just say that the protagonist is presented with an unlikely father figure, and the relationship that they form is just so real that it gets me every single time I watch it.
All in all, it is an incredibly enjoyable movie with an amazing art and animation style that blows me away whenever I watch. It has wonderful characters that are well written and well voiced, and a soundtrack that evokes such emotion from me that I watch this movie every month just to experience it again. Please, if you haven’t seen it, do. If you don’t have access, I will let you into my apartment to view it with me, no joke.