Review: Treasure Planet (2002)

Now that I’ve got access to Disney +, I have plenty of video to watch. A few months ago, someone on Deviant Art referred to Treasure Planet and suggested it would be worth watching. The commenter said that reviewers had panned the film. On the-numbers.com, I learned that it wasn’t a very successful movie financially. It’s worldwide gross did not quite compensate for the film’s budget.

Treasure Planet is a story about a youth, Jim Hawkins, voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is drifting after his father had left the family. His mother, voiced by Laurie Metcalf, was desperate to keep him out of trouble. Despite his mother’s reservations, after getting a map to the legendary Treasure Planet, Jim starts on an adventure in search of riches. The film is inspired by the story Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, but it’s set in outer space. The story uncomfortably conjoins the pirate and buccaneer genre with the science fiction adventure genre. It used Jim, in the role of a troubled youth, to tie them together.

The film was passable but I’m glad I watched it. The crew were little more than caricatures and had their personality revealed by their visual appearance rather than their actions. One of the bright spots of the movie was Morph, voiced by Dane A. Davis, a shape shifting pet who took the place of a pirate’s trusty parrot. Morph added some comic relief and often distracted from the main action—I was spending more time looking and paying attention to its antics instead of the rest of the action. The robot B.E.N. voiced by Martin Short is also a bright spot in the performance.

The pirate John Silver voiced by Brian Murray has a more complex personality than the other characters. Rather than Jim’s stereotyped journey in the story, Silver has his own journey that is more compelling. Jim has a standard fairy tale ending while Silver leaves transformed. The gender roles in the film are pretty stereotypical. The writers realized that the majority of the story didn’t have any female characters, so the captain, voiced by Emma Thompson, was recast as a woman almost as an afterthought.

The art of the movie was well done. I appreciated the ethereal visuals of the sky. The resources spent to make them effective were well spent. If the space environment had not been so colorful and varied, the film would have been very dull and flat. The different ships and other vehicles seemed incongruous with the space theme, but their styling kept the story’s connection to Treasure Island apparent.

Treasure Planet was an acceptable movie. It isn’t close to the top of the pantheon of Disney Films so it’s probably not worth renting but if you want a humorous take on Treasure Island, it might be worth putting on your list of to-watch-someday films. There’s plenty else on Disney+ that is appealing.

Film Review: Dolittle (2020)

a teapotTalking to animals seems to be a natural skill to list on the resume of a veterinarian. Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) uses it as his primary marketing strategy. Although he’s renowned for caring for animals, when his wife dies, he is thrown into a downward spiral.

When Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett) comes to him with an injured squirrel, the boy’s persistence and cheek help Dr. Dolittle get out of his funk. With the help of dozens of animal friends, Robert Downey Jr.’s character begins a quest with many adventures that are tied together by the dying Queen Victoria  (Jessie Buckley) and the mystery of his wife’s death.

I didn’t really enjoy the movie very much. I don’t think that I was in the target demographic. The kids in the theater with me seemed to enjoy it. Looking on the-numbers.com, I see that the film is better than average on its staying power and is a financial success. It was a fun story, just one that I wasn’t drawn into.

A walking stick insect was a cute plot device. It reminded me of the plant that is a Fantastic Beasts that rescues Newt Scamander  from some tight spots.

The film had several intersecting sub-plots. Each story had its own villain and conflict. They were set up to be short and entertaining. The movie doesn’t bog down with detailed character development.

What I liked most about the film was its humor and wit. Dr. Dolittle was quirky and always resourceful. The animals help him and his protégé to win the day.

Abominable (2019)

A traffic light showing go
Last week I went with my parents to watch Abominable. It’s an animated film about a Yeti that is trying to get home to Mount Everest from a city in China. It’s a nice story and fun to watch.

I had one scene that sticks with me. After escaping the villains in an extraordinary way, Yi (Chloe Bennet) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) wander into a bamboo forest. They have a deep conversation about grief and superficiality. It helps strengthen their relationships by sharing an intimate moment.

The imagery of that scene stood out to me. The calming shadows of the bamboo and the clean landscape around Yi and Jin was hopeful. It produced a classic image that centers the film in a reality beyond the animated excitement that occurs before and after.

I really enjoyed the film. It was a simple story but not simplistic. The characters were fun as they went on a cool adventure. Yi has postcards from her father who had died shortly before the story began. The postcards have a special meaning through the story. We don’t learn much about the father, but Yi loves him and was inspired by her father’s violin lullabies.

The traffic light is green for Go!

Surprise: You get to go swimming today

A red crawfish
Last weekend I went canoeing with my neighbors. It was very spontaneous. They invited me that afternoon and we were underway in an hour or so. We had 3 kayakers and 4 of us in two canoes on Pigeon Creek.

It started out cool. I saw some crawfish on the bank right next to the access ramp.

We made it to the first obstacle, a big tree blocking half the stream. However I ended up getting pinned behind it. I tried to push myself sideways, out from behind the log, but got dumped in the water.

Thankfully, I had on a life jacket. I hadn’t been in the water for years, so it was a big surprise. I did ok and didn’t drown. First, I moved over to the bank so that my feet could touch the bed of the river.

The rest of the trip my jeans were soaked, but the water wasn’t too cold and the weather was warm.

We made it to the last bridge before Mongo, climbed out and waited for the vehicle at the drop-off site to rejoin us.

All in all, it was pretty fun. I was getting pretty tired and a little cranky by the time we got out of the water. I fell down twice trying to get up the path where we stopped. I didn’t get any injuries although I fell pretty hard the second time.

I did a lot better than I expected and it’s definitely an adventure to remember.