Joe Sparrow / Illustrator - Animator - Designer / 07758224292 / joe@joe-sparrow.com

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Treasure Planet

I found these line tests on youtube this morning. Seeing as my friend "exit" does this sort of thing all the time I thought I'd show it to anyone who wants to look and write a little about this film.




This is the first of a series of 5 pencil tests on youtube for the character "Doppler", voiced by none other than David Hyde Pierce (aka Niles from Frasier). I really like him as a character and watching this reminded me I really want to see the whole film again.

So, I looked some more on youtube and found it. You should watch it, I'll write about it at the bottom so you can read it when you're done.



...aaaaaaand that's it.

I remember watching this movie as a kid and being consciously aware of the fact that Disney was on it's way out in terms of 2-D animation. I think I first became aware of it when I was at McDonalds when they did a happy meal toy range of characters from the film - in fact, there's a whole slew of more recent Disney films that I never saw but was initially introduced to the characters via Disney's willingness to shake hands with the most hated fast food company on earth. Things like (in no particular order) The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Atlantis, Brother Bear and The Road To El Dorado all fit in this category, and I never saw any of them. However, seeing as Treasure Planet was set in space and featured cyborgs and lasers and such I was probably more eager to ask my dad to take me to see it.

I think seeing I haven't watched any of the aforementioned films puts me in a poor position to judge the movie next to its contemporaries, but I think for Disney in general it's really good. If you've ever seen Titan A.E. (a movie 2 years senior to Treasure Planet , and made by rotoscope-happy Don Bluth) it takes the "cool" animated sci-fi elements from it and makes them into something a little more stylish if less serious as a whole. Titan A.E. makes an attempt at being a "serious" post-apocalyptic story, Treasure Planet is seemingly beyond any ordinary human timeline, and doesn't stop to take questions.

Regardless of the light-heartedness of the plot and silliness of some of the supporting characters the main cast are really likeable for an animated film. Besides the main character Jim, a disappointing, charmless void where a protagonist ought to have been, all the other main plot characters are both gloriously well animated and often genuinely intruiging - Long John Silver, for example, manages to be the most interesting villain-but-not-quite-a-villain I've seen in a film for a long time, and seeing him lug that enourmous mechanical arm around to the bass tones of Brian Murray's best "oirish poirate" voice was one of the most satisfying animated experiences since, I don't know, James Woods' Hades or something. I just think he's a really well acted character. Captain Amelia manages to be literally the hottest squirrel-woman-captain committed to film, and I thought her delightfully un-plot-relevant romance with Doppler was sweet. Finally, B.E.N., who could have easily been made into some sort of wacky Aladdin's Genie ripoff, was instead, again, really pleasingly animated and given some of the funniest lines in the film. In light of all these, Jim Hawkins barely gets a word in and is drawn with a stupid haircut, coming across as a meaninglessly "cool" young male protagonist who was basically tacked on so he could be on the posters and the dvd boxart.

In most other ways, I think it's a well-designed, attractive, fun kids' movie.

2 comments:

escapecomplex said...

AHEM-HEM.

"The Road to El Dorado" is Dreamworks before they went on a crappy 3D films bender, you philistine, you.

unsummon said...

haha, wow. I submit to your superior animator historian intellect.