Monday, July 6, 2009

Treasure Planet

Treasure PlanetImage via Wikipedia
Thank God for Walt Disney. And not just because of Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofey, Mickey Mouse, and Disneyland. I mean Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and my very favorite, Treasure Planet. I'm an adult and I love children's movies. Go figure.

I guess it stems from being delighted with wonder. I love animals that talk, places I've only seen in my imagination, and the spirit of adventure. Even older films like Swiss Family Robinson and the 1959 version of Journey to the Center of the Earth (20th Century Fox) still captivate me.

Treasure Planet is essentially a rewriting of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island for a generation raised on Star Wars. Instead of a square rigger on the high seas, we have the solar powered RLS Legacy (also a square rigger) that blasts across interstellar space. It sounds fantastic, but it works and you quickly find yourself drawn into a world you wish was real.

Treasure Planet is not just about adventure, though there's plenty of that. The film also develops deeper themes involving loss, the importance of unlikely role models, and the redemptive power of love. The hero, a teenage Jim Hawkins, is raised by a single mother, his father having abandoned them both years before. In a retrospective scene, we actually see his father leave and the impact on Jim is neither hidden nor sugar-coated. Not syrupy sentimentality, this is high-level stuff for an animated film and it involves some seriously good writing.

Treasure Planet is exciting, touching, funny, the soundtrack is great, and I can't tell you how many times I've seen it -- mainly because I've lost count. Watch it on a Saturday evening when you're sick of visionless films that substitute special effects, violence, and sex, for an intelligent story line. Put it on your Netflix account, especially the next time you want to feel like a kid again -- you'll be glad you did.

(Netflix is a registered trademark; Treasure Planet poster believed to be copyright by the Walt Disney Corporation)

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