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Walt Disney Home Video presents
Treasure Planet: Disney Read Along (2003)

"You're something special, Jim....you're gonna rattle the stars, you are..."
- John Silver (Brian Murray)

Review By: Jeff Rosado   
Published: March 12, 2003

Stars: Emma Thompson, Martin Short, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Hyde Pierce, Patrick McGoohan
Other Stars: Laurie Metcalf, Michael Wincott, Corey Burton, Brian Murray, Jack Angel, Rodger Bumpass, Chuck Riley (narrator)
Director: (none given)

MPAA Rating: G for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:30m:00s
Release Date: February 25, 2003
UPC: 050086058198
Genre: family

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

As I poured through the contents of Treasure Planet: Disney Read Along, all I could do was marvel at how far technology has come since the days of View Masters, crank-powered Kenner movie projectors, talking storybooks and the close/play record players of my youth. Today's young folk don't realize how good they have it: Thanks to the storage capabilities of the DVD format, there are no misplaced picture reels, breakable film, eventually scratch-plagued vinyl or quickly useless batteries to fiddle with.

Yes, all the features of those cool aforementioned media toys of birthdays past can now be accessed via one deceptively simple looking 5-inch platter. But like our moms and dads, we're not completely off the hook; our services will still be needed for the DVD remote.

Treasure Planet: Disney Read Along is the latest in a series of educational DVDs in Disney's rapidly growing collection of companion discs based on some of the studio's most popular animated features. Although the storylines are compressed for the sake of time (and tidied up a bit as far as potentially frightening images for younger kids), they are very faithful to the spirit of the films and go several steps further with musical highlights, entertaining games with feature characters and vocabulary exercises.

With the full-length movie version of Treasure Planet yet to be issued at the time of this review, I'll keep the synopsis short and sweet: Jim is a restless teenager on a distant planet who can't seem to stay out of the trouble zone much to the dismay of his Mom, who has her hands full enough running the local inn. Life changes drastically for the both of them when a spaceship crashes nearby. Amidst the wreckage, Jim finds a map with directions to a destination he's dreamed about his entire life: Treasure Planet. With the help of fellow adventurer Doctor Doppler, a journey beyond the stars begins.

Once the disc fires up, your first visual is a menu of language options. Thanks to Region 0 coding, you have the opportunity to experience virtually all of the disc's contents in five languages including German, French, Spanish, Italian and of course, English, which can be activated by simply hitting the "enter" key on your DVD remote. Then, you'll be taken to the main menu of seven options. Select "The Story," which is the main feature on the disc.

Once activated, an approximately half-hour condensed version of Treasure Planet follows with still images taken from the film, accompanied by Chuck Riley's narration as his words and character dialogue are seen at the bottom of the screen in easy-to-read graphics. My only criticism in an otherwise effective presentation is that the quick pace of the storyline may make it difficult for younger viewers to keep up. However, thanks to the appealing way images are presented (complete with original dialogue clips from the film featuring the voice-over talents of Martin Short and Emma Thompson, amongst others), it's most likely that the sights and sounds will render the text insignificant for all viewers...for the first few plays anyway.

Kids with advanced learning levels will be rewarded via the disc's creative multi-language features, offering the ability to switch audio soundtracks and subtitles on the fly.Unlike some discs where you're forced to go back to the main menu and reconfigure, the producers make great use of the seldom used multi-angle feature on your remote to change the text while your audio function can be utilized normally to alter the soundtrack.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: As stated previously, if you think that the disc will serve as a highlights reel of memorable moments from the film, be forewarned: All you get are basically still images enhanced with cheesy yet appealingly goofy effects enhanced with a vibrant soundtrack to keep young ones interested. That said, the drawings from the film are so eye-poppingly gorgeous one can't help but wonder how incredible the movie edition DVD will be. There are remarkably vivid colors in spite of the freeze frame presentation with no discernable flaws; this isn't the kind of disc where you're need to be looking for abnormalities anyway.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanish, Italian, Germanyes

Audio Transfer Review: Listed as a Dolby Digital mix, I was initially disappointed when my receiver only registered a 2.0 reading as the storybook section of the DVD kicked off. Five seconds later, I found myself flying across the room, scrambling for my receiver remote as a powerful mix enveloped the living room.

Now, it's not Terminator loud, but I highly advise monitoring the amplification with the kiddies around and adjusting the level for a comfortable listening experience; in fact, I had to cut my subwoofer level down several notches due to the surprisingly deep low end. Dialogue from the center is very clear, although you may have to boost it a bit thanks to the very wide stereo image that emerges from the fronts via the film's sweeping score. Music and sound effects extend into the rear channels, offering a very smooth ambient effect that will have the kids thinking they're back at the multiplex.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German with remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Lion King (IMAX), The Jungle Book 2, Piglet's Big Movie, Lilo And Stitch, 101 Dalmations II: Patch's London Adventure
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. The Songs: I'm Still Here (Jim's Theme)(performed by John Rzenik), Always Know Where You Are (performed by BBMak)
  2. Music Video: I'm Still Here (performed by John Rzenik)
  3. Vocabulary: Learn words in multiple languages
  4. The Magical World Of Disney: Trailers from Walt Disney Studio, Walt Disney Records, Disney Interactive and Buena Vista Home Entertainment
  5. Game: Guessing quiz based on the movie
Extras Review: After the storybook portion of the film, you're shifted back to the main menu where further "treasures" await with a multitude of fun options your kids can explore, including an entertaining Vocabulary section that displays several key words from the film in several different languages. Press the corresponding number on your DVD remote and you'll hear the word in either German, Spanish, Italian or French. Very cool.

Other goodies include two musically-themed sections: The Songs contain complete audio perfomances of I'm Still Here by Goo Goo Dolls frontman John Rzenik and Always Know Where You Are from BBMak; The Video showcases the companion VH-1 heavy rotation Rzenik track that big sisters may want to watch more than once (tsk, tsk).

Kings of promotion that they are, Disney gives their vast media holdings a nice showcase via The Magical World of Disney option, a multi-level area where you'll find trailers for current full-length video fare (Lilo And Stitch, 101 Dalmations II: Patch's London Adventure), forthcoming feature films (Piglet's Big Movie), compilation albums (a teen marked Disney Mania set and multiple collection of Disney soundtrack classics), a DVD-ROM area for immediate access to the Disney Records and Disney.com web sites and a brief but enchanting sneak peek at Disney Interactive's Lilo And Stitch CD-ROM game.

In the time honored 'saving the best for last' tradition, the disc's final option is a creatively designed game for kids to play the home version of Treasure Planet minus the messy perils of mutinous pirates and so on. By listening to directions and doing sequential exercises correctly, kids will be rewarded with a challenging yet fun main game of piecing the robot B.E.N. back together again.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Treasure Planet: Disney Read Along is great educational fun for the kids as well as serving as an excellent extended teaser for the full-length feature DVD.


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