Animated film (2002). Walt Disney Animation Studios. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. Written by Clements, Musker and Rob Edwards, based on a story by Clements & Musker and Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio. Colour. Cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brian Murray, David Hyde Pierce, Martin Short and Emma Thompson. 95 minutes.
Clements and Musker wrote, directed and produced this film which feels like an awkward combination of pet project and design by committee. It transposes Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883) from sea to space, into a Steampunk Space Opera Science Fantasy a universe where humanity is in the minority and – as in such novels as Harm's Way (1993) by Colin Greenland (see Hornblower in Space) – sailing ships ply the spacelanes. The setting and central conceit are sound but unfortunately the film gets nothing else right.
The whining teen protagonist (Gordon-Levitt) is reminiscent of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels and the opening of the film seems to deliberately imitate the pod-race scene from Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999); not an auspicious sign. Young Jim is assisted by not one but two comic-relief characters (Hyde Pierce and Short), while the chief antagonist (Murray) inevitably and inconsistently acts as a stand-in for his absent father. Only Thompson as the slim-hipped, clipped-tongued feline captain adds a touch of life to proceedings. Alas, she is soon sidelined before being ignominiously married off to one of the comic-relief characters. In addition to the woefully under-nourished characters, the film also offers stupid plotting, poor animation, moral incontinence and terrible, terrible music. [ML]
see also: Children's SF; Cinema.
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