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  Film Reviews: A New Generation of Bad Book Reports: Treasure Planet  

Wednesday, February 26
A New Generation of Bad Book Reports: Treasure Planet
I will give Disney this – Treasure Planet is a rather faithful adaptation of Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Save the Cyborg, Sexy Cat Captain, Flubber-like character, skateboarding, half-dog creature and taking place in space.

Treasure Planet is nominated in the “Best Animation – Full-Length Feature” category this year. This is the only reason that I saw the movie, and by all accounts, one of the only reasons people have seen the film this year. It’s a Disney film with everything - celebrity voices (Emma Thompson, David Hyde Pearce, Laurie Metcalf), adventure involving the younger set, and characters designed to delight and disgust all at the same time. It’s the standard Disney formula that’s made Disney animated features money in the bank.

Up until now. Treasure Planet was a bona fide flop for Disney. After watching the film, it seems terribly unfair. But things have changed. Where Disney was once the undisputed king of animation, there are now many new kids on the block. Advances in computer animation, the money to be made in DVD and video sales, along with the ability to make a film your kids can actually watch are but a few of the reasons that Disney is falling to the wayside.

Disney is doing the same-old-same-old for a group of kids that have grown up demanding more realistic blood splatters and rotting corpses from their video games. Not even a flatulent crewmember can win over these kids.

It is not that Disney doesn’t try. When young Jim Hawkins First learns of the legend of Treasure Planet, it’s from a hologram book. Young Jim grows up making solar-skateboards that he uses to elude robotic police officers. Silver is now a cyborg, and the bad guys speak in sanitary slang.

It’s enough to make you realize that some of the executives at Disney must have remembered to ask if the grandkids had been talking about anything “hip” in the last week.

Still, this is based on what is arguably the best action-adventure book a kid can read. Where else do you start out with a pirate dying in your house and end up on the high seas searching for unimaginable treasure while trying to survive the meanest crew alive? For that alone, this is always a good story.

However, once it gets out that Treasure Planet is pretty close to the book, the rentals will start flying off the shelves. I feel for my two teacher friends. I wonder exactly how they’ll respond when they read “the best part of the book was how Silver’s cyborg hand could turn into a whole set of knives.” Well, I should be honest – I know my friends well enough to know what report comments will be like. One of them will be fairly kind and suggest future book reports be based on actual books. The other’s comments will bring about that pivotal “Johnny, let me tell you about sarcasm” talk at home.

The Usual:

What It’s Worth: Definitely a trip to the dollar-theater. Heck, spring for the pay-per-view.

Annoying Theater Goer: Really, could Disney get any more obvious? To have teenage boys standing outside the theater afterwards going, “the cat was so hot!” Then again, you can probably guess what the social life of the head animator for the Cat Captain is like.

Main Reason To See This Film: It’s a fun take on a classic. It’s also a chance to see actual advances in Disney animation.

Main Reason Not To See This Film: Disney’s attempts to be cool are awkward and obvious.

MPAA Rating: PG

Nudity: No

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