Jim Hawkins, a troubled kid looking for direction, receives a map leading to a legendary planet where, supposedly, a vast pirate treasure lies buried. Serving as cabin boy aboard a spaceship, he joins a colorful cast of characters to find this treasure planet and claim the gold; but his ship’s crew seems to have an agenda all its own…
Like any book to film adaptation, there are differences between the two. The setting is the most obvious alteration. The Steampunk world of Treasure Planet is one part homage to the original setting of Treasure Island, other part pure joyful science fiction creativity. Nothing better encapsulates this interplay of old and new than the R.L.S. Legacy, the space ship the crew uses to search for Flint’s trove. It’s modeled after a seafaring galleon but equipped with solar panel sails and an artificial gravity device. Those sci fi staples aren’t just trimmings; they serve as key plot points in the story. The writers and animators took full advantage of their genre-specific environments to tell Jim Hawkins’ tale of adventure in a new and exciting way.
The second major difference between the film and the book lies with the writers’ treatment of the infamous John Silver. In the movie, Jim and Silver’s relationship is much more complicated and involved than that of the novel. Their tie to one another gives the conflict later on its emotional weight and makes the audience that much more invested in the film’s resolution.
Most people already know the story of Jim Hawkins even if they haven’t read the book. But even if you have exhausted yourself watching every film adaptation in existence (including the muppet movie version!), you should still see this one too. Treasure Planet may never make it into the Disney hall of fame (I blame their substandard recoup on poor marketing, not film quality), but who cares. Good movies stay good movies even if nobody sees them.
Available on Netflix. (Picture found buried with pirate treasure.)