After 19 Years, “Treasure Planet” is Still Great!


Jim Hawkins sitting on the bowsprit of the RLS Legacy. Photo Source: Treasure Planet

On Nov. 27, 2002, the movie “Treasure Planet” was released under the Walt Disney name. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, it was one of the more underrated animated Disney movies in comparison to Disney’s other movies. Even while underrated, it is still one of the best Disney movies 19 years later.


The story is based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson called “Treasure Island”. It follows Jim Hawkins as he travels to find pirate treasure. “Treasure Planet” follows the same story but, well, in space. 


The animation of the movie itself is pretty good. I take it with a grain of salt because it was 2002 technology, but it was mostly hand-drawn 2D traditional animation. They operated with the “70/30” rule–70 percent of the film’s artwork would be traditional and 30 percent would be Sci-fi. They combined computer-generated parts and traditional animation, specifically with John Silver’s cyborg arm and the character B.E.N, who is the only fully CGI character. B.E.N being CGI was only prominent in certain scenes, like whenever one of the traditionally drawn characters would physically interact with him. It was like he had no physical weight in some scenes, making it look a bit odd. But other than that, the animation was wonderfully done. The backdrops and design of the planets, places and ships were incredible. 


Next are the characters. The characters are all incredibly likable and clever. John Silver will always be my favorite. We know he’s the villain from the beginning when no one else does. We see him get genuinely attached to Jim Hawkins and watching him having these moral dilemmas about Hawkins is amazing. Captain Amelia Smollet will always be one of my favorite characters because she’s smart, witty and voiced by Emma Thompson. Jim Hawkins’ character develops from a moody, troubled teenager to a brave and selfless man. We see him come out of his shell and become a capable and intelligent captain. 


The story itself was mostly laid out for Clements and Musker, but they still made it their own. It did have some obvious changes like changing the island to a planet that holds ‘the loot of a thousand worlds. They also added some characters like Morph. Morph is a substitute for Silver’s parrot, mockingly called Captain Flint. Instead of copying as a parrot would, it physically morphs into different people and things. They completely cut the characters of Squire Trelawney and Dr. Livesey and replaced them with a single character called Dr. Delbert Doppler. Doppler finances the crew like Trelawney and is level-headed like Livesey. 


In the end, the movie still holds up pretty well 19 years later. It is, to this day, the most expensive traditionally animated movie ever made, costing $140 million. It also pretty much flopped in the box office, making $38 million in the US and Canada. Even with the box office bomb, it still had positive reviews from critics and watchers. It was also nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards. The humor, characters, animation and soundtrack are absolutely wonderful to this day and it will stay one of my favorite animated movies of all time.