With nearly 50 film versions of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island already made, you would have to go out of this world to come up with a new version - and Disney did.
As the unmanageable son of a struggling spaceport innkeeper, Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) would rather go boarding than sweep floors or clear tables. One stormy night after the police bring the errant teenager home, a strange character bangs at the door of the humble establishment. Before dying on their floor, the aged and injured pirate gives Jim a mysterious golden ball and a stern warning to watch out for cyborgs.
Within minutes, the tavern is under attack and the boy and his mother only narrowly escape the fire that engulfs the building. At the home of a friend, Dr. Doppler (David Hyde Pierce), Jim discovers that the sphere contains a map leading to Captain Flint's hidden treasure on a far off globe.
Hiring the services of Captain Amelia (Emma Thompson) and her first mate Arrow (Roscoe Lee Browne), Jim and the doctor set out to recover the buried riches. Aboard the ship, the young adventurer is assigned to work with the ship's cyborg cook, Long John Silver (Brian Murray), a chef who serves floating eyeballs in his soup. In time, the two mates develop a type of father-son friendship that betters both men but leaves Jim unsuspecting of the pirate's plans.
Creatively melding antiquated, seafaring ships with a futuristic setting, this interplanetary coming-of-age adventure depicts the moral dilemmas faced by Jim and Long John when they surface on opposite sides of a mutiny. As well, the cook's helper must face the disillusionment of being betrayed by someone he considers a friend.
Besides a crewmember that communicates in flatulent-type noises, the only rough waters in this voyage are recurring battle scenes, moments of peril and a teenager who appears to grow in wisdom even though he faces limited consequences for his actions.
Opening in IMAX in larger cities, Treasure Planet looks even better on the bigger screen and is a unique twist on Stevenson's old classic which should appeal to space sailors of all ages and give parents little reason to pull up anchor.