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Treasure Planet

Starring Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, Emma Thompson, David Hyde Pierce, Roscoe Lee Browne, Patrick McGoohan
Screenplay by Ron Clements & John Musker and Rob Edwards; songs by John Rzeznik
Based on Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Directed by John Musker and Ron Clements
website: disney.go.com

IN SHORT: A great ride. [Rated PG for adventure action and peril. 96 minutes]

The reason certain stories are called "classic" is that you can mangle them in any number of ways and still have a great story to sit for. While the setting of Disney's Treasure Planet is about as far from the original, Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island," as you can get, Disney's adaptation is anything but a mangle. It's an animated feature that works as well for grown-ups as it does for the small ones, though we advise any parent who wish to lug their three year old (or under) small ones to the theater that Treasure Planet may be a wee bit too intense for those kidlets who are very small, or still sensitive. More than one parent had to leave our screening with wailing toddlers on their shoulders.

Treasure Planet is the first film made simultaneously available, in selected markets, in both regular and IMAX format prints. We opted for IMAX, not only because we love that massive screen but also because we wanted to see if kicking the print up to IMAX 70mm standards would lead to any degradation of the hand animated images which mix with CG material. Nope.

With the exception of a few minor changes, the story of Treasure Planet is faithful to the original. We didn't miss the map with an "X" and we were pleasantly surprised by the surprises that pop at the film's climax. That being said, you don't need any knowledge of the original to follow Treasure Planet and we will move on from there. The basic story is of a young man, Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who, captivated by stories of a long lost pirate treasure sets his eyes on the spaceways. In company of the canine-derived Doctor Doppler (David Hyde Pierce), Jim boards the space galleon "Legacy," captained by the feline Captain Amelia (Emma Thompson) and overseen by her First Mate, Mr. Arrow (Roscoe Lee Browne). Hawkins is assigned to work in the galley, under the supervision of the half man half machine, John Silver (Brian Murray). Silver's pet, Morph (Dane A. Davis) is not the same character from the X-Men comic spinoff Exiles, but its powers are a dead on rip. Morph provides the comic relief, even as Silver and his cohorts on the crew plan a mutiny -- they want the treasure and they want it all to themselves.

It's nothing less than charming that 70 percent of Treasure Planet looks as if it is still set in the nineteenth century. Watch as the plasma sails of the Legacy unfurl and rocket engines in its stern flare to life and you've moved easily into the realm of space fantasy. As the voyage, and resultant mutiny carry the story forward, our heroes will stumble upon B.E.N. (Martin Short) a robot with a motor mouth and a missing intelligence circuit.

All else that you need to know is the rest of the voice roster: Michael Wincott, Laurie Metcalf, Corey Burton, Micheal McShane and the legendary Patrick McGoohan. Well, he's a legend to us.

Treasure Planet is a romp. A space opera that is gorgeous to look at both in character design and the marvelous use of computer graphics to flesh out the technological details that fill in all the non-19th century gaps. Short's B.E.N. is more classic Jerry Lewis than anything else. It's a bit grating on our nerves but the kidlets giggled at every gag.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Treasure Planet, he would have paid . . .

$8.00

Normally we don't put a number on kidflicks. Treasure Planet is one of those exceptions to the rule. You don't have to lug a kid to feel as if you belong in the theater. Treasure Planet is flat out fun.

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