Disney isn’t normally restrained in letting what animated films it owns. They’re nonetheless making new theme park rides primarily based on cartoons the studio made within the Thirties. In the meantime, they’ve been controversially selling works on social media that they acquired from the Disney/Fox merger as in the event that they’ve all the time been part of the Disney library. Throw a stone and also you’re certain to hit a billboard reminding you that Disney is the studio behind properties like Zootopia or Raya and the Final Dragon. The Mouse Home has cultivated its model over these sorts of iconic animated properties. Nonetheless, that doesn’t imply each animated characteristic that Disney has produced has gotten this type of ongoing push. Take, for instance, Treasure Planet.
One of many extra forgotten properties within the Walt Disney Animation Studios canon, you received’t be seeing new theme park points of interest at Shanghai Disneyland primarily based on the exploits of Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Lengthy John Silver (Brian Murray). In the meantime, it’s uncertain that there are any plans for Disney+ shorts persevering with the in-universe adventures of those characters. Why would there be? Treasure Planet was a legendary field workplace catastrophe that knowledgeable Disney’s resolution to forego hand-drawn animation in its feature-length initiatives. These monetary outcomes largely led to Disney treating Treasure Planet like The Black Cauldron or House on the Vary, a field workplace dud with out a lot motive to be acknowledged. However Treasure Planet is a film with loads of virtues price recognizing. In reality, Treasure Planet has so many distinctive charms that it’s properly price calling this ardour challenge from administrators Ron Clements and John Musker one of many unsung gems within the Walt Disney Animation Studios canon.
Based mostly on the Robert Louis Stevenson novel Treasure Island, Treasure Planet takes the story of Jim Hawkins and his seek for buried treasure and locations it within the stars. Although most of the characters from the supply materials stay, they’ve been translated to suit archetypes and molds frequent in sci-fi leisure. A peg-legged pirate like John Silver, for instance, is now a cyborg. In the meantime, a parrot, the same old companion pet of a pirate, is now a pink blob named Morph that may remodel right into a miniature reproduction of anybody or something, like a cosmic model of the Pokemon creature Ditto.
Treasure Planet isn’t about eschewing its older roots, it’s about mixing them with new outer spacing trappings. This manifests itself in varied artistic methods, however one of the thrilling examples is the way it bleeds over into manufacturing design. Treasure Planet takes place in a world the place voyages to different planets are frequent and aliens are simply your next-door neighbors. Nonetheless, it additionally makes use of structure and costumes ripped straight out of the Nineteenth-century when Treasure Island was first revealed. This imaginative and prescient of futuristic sci-fi as imagined by somebody from the 1800s is instantly fascinating, particularly because it goes hand-in-hand with an identical fusion of hand-drawn artistry and computer-animated wizardry. Within the early 2000s, there was a considered these two artwork varieties being at one another’s throats for dominance. Treasure Planet dares to ask the query of why they will’t co-exist and work off one another? Thus, the people and aliens are lovingly hand-drawn creations, whereas a number of environments, like the luxurious forests on the titular location, are realized by the identical means.
Nonetheless, they’re accompanied by CG accentuations in locations just like the mechanical doubloon-covered middle of Treasure Planet or to characterize a black gap that the characters virtually get sucked into. Utilizing CG for these components of the manufacturing quietly succeeds at suggesting how misplaced a tormented teenage boy is in these daunting environments. The hand-drawn Hawkins stands out in opposition to these backdrops and that’s the purpose, he’s supposed to right away seem like an underdog who doesn’t belong right here. As for the CG cyborg components on Lengthy John Silver, they appear improbable and work extremely properly at immediately conveying how a lot of himself this character has sacrificed in pursuit of a legendary treasure. Practically each hand-drawn animated movie made within the Twenty first-century has utilized CG instruments to a point, however few have used them for such considerate means.
After which there’s the emotional coronary heart of Treasure Planet, which offers with a younger man grappling along with his daddy points. Jim Hawkins is considered one of many Disney protagonists to cope with absent parental figures, however many of those people have fond visions of their dad and mom or misplaced them as a consequence of tragedies past anybody’s management. Hawkins, in the meantime, misplaced his dad in additional grounded circumstances, along with his father leaving his household one morning with out warning and even saying goodbye to his offspring. Getting old up Hawkins to a youngster, in comparison with the kid model of Hawkins from Treasure Island, means the trauma from these experiences has simmered to kind a tough shell round Hawkins.
Going this route with the character makes Hawkins a particular determine within the realm of Walt Disney Animation Studios protagonists. The individuality of his inside plight is additional fleshed out in the most effective sequence of Treasure Planet, a montage of Hawkins and Lengthy John Silver bonding set to the unique tune “I’m Nonetheless Right here (Jim’s Theme)”. In one other departure from Disney norms, “I’m Nonetheless Right here” is a non-diegetic music, one whose appropriately raggedy vocals from John Rzeznik appear to be talking from Hawkins’ coronary heart, not his lips.
Going this route is a genius transfer because it permits the characters to deal with step by step bonding by small bodily gestures (like Silver lending Hawkins a coat after a protracted day of labor) reasonably than singing and dancing. The practical habits on this montage is put to particularly nice use when the scene flashes again to the morning Jim’s father left his household. The vocals and instrumentals in “I’m Nonetheless Right here” tackle a brand new stage of urgency as Hawkins races over to a dad that’s about to fade without end. The quietly devastating habits of adolescent Hawkins breaks your coronary heart. In the meantime, Hawkins getting taken out for a trip amongst the celebrities with surrogate father determine Silver proceeds to make your spirit soar.
Eschewing dialogue right here doesn’t simply permit assist the tonal number of the “I’m Nonetheless Right here” montage, it additionally offers the animators an opportunity to impress. There’s no dialogue on this sequence, every part these characters are feeling comes right down to the physique language and tiniest options within the animation to convey the emotional significance of those moments in Hawkins’ life. Even the transitions between moments set previously and the current see the animators discovering artistic methods to counsel how the trauma of yesteryear bleeds over into the modern-day psyche of Hawkins.
Outdoors of the Fantasy movies, it’s onerous to search out different Disney Animation movies that take the time to forego dialogue and reap the benefits of the visible storytelling expertise of hand-drawn animators. The sheer emotional energy of this bonding montage wouldn’t be there with out these proficient artists rising to the challenges of such a daring scene. It doesn’t matter what angle you have a look at it from, this “I’m Nonetheless Right here (Jim’s Theme)” montage is unimaginable and a microcosm of the distinctive artistic instincts that make Treasure Planet such a wealthy movie.
Even the movie’s ending departs from Disney norms by refusing to tie every part up right into a bow relating to the connection between Hawkins and Silver. A possibility for the 2 to proceed to work side-by-side, which conceptually appears like a typical “pleased ending”, is eschewed. As a substitute, Hawkins makes a acutely aware option to chart his personal future reasonably than counting on a father determine, surrogate, or in any other case. It’s a second of quiet realism that serves as an ideal extension of the genuine emotions conveyed within the earlier “I’m Nonetheless Right here (Jim’s Theme)” montage. By refusing to only go the straightforward route in wrapping up this dynamic, Treasure Planet reaffirms its dedication to distinctive and emotionally resonant storytelling.
After all, this directorial effort from Ron Clements and John Musker isn’t excellent, no characteristic from Disney Animation is devoid of shortcomings. Comedian aid character B.E.N. (Martin Quick) is just too loud and comes into Treasure Planet far too late to really feel like a needed a part of the plot. There are additionally clumsy items of dialogue whereas the entertainingly bravura character Captain Amelia (Emma Thompson) getting sidelined for the third act with a brutal damage is a waste of considered one of Disney’s extra memorable motion heroes.
Nonetheless, these flaws are outweighed by really spectacular artistic selections, significantly in its visuals and a gangbusters montage sequence, which makes it in contrast to every other entry within the Walt Disney Animation Studios canon. Treasure Planet deserves to be identified for way over simply its field workplace struggles. It’s an unsung gem on this canon that Disney has tragically ignored for many years. The one benefit to the film flying up to now underneath Disney’s radar is that it could now serve, for individuals who’ve by no means seen it, as one thing akin to cinematic buried treasure as soon as they watch it.
There have been 58 feature-length animated options from Disney since 1937, so how do they stack up in opposition to one another?
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