Wreck-It Ralph smashed box office records for a Disney animated film in its opening weekend, and won over critics and audiences no less. With its creativity, heart and passionate storytelling, Wreck-It Ralph signals Walt Disney Animation Studios is back in the game, so to speak. This edition of Disney In Depth will explore what has led up to this new hit for the studio, as well as what awaits.
Many individuals say the Disney Renaissance began with 1989’s The Little Mermaid, with following entries Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King reaching even greater heights – everyone seems to leave out the forgotten The Rescuers Down Under. Regardless, this represented a period of unparalleled imagination and inspiration within the studio, continuing for several years to follow. Then came the slump. Audiences were no longer interested in musicals, so it seemed, and Disney animation switched gears into the sci-fi realm with productions like Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet. Computer animation emerged, and with that advent Disney entered the new arena with misses like Chicken Little and the awkward-yet-smart Meet the Robinsons. None of these performed all that wonderfully. It had appeared as though Disney lost its touch. But the studio had some exciting developments up their sleeve.
November 27, 2002. That was the day the greatly overlooked and underappreciated Treasure Planet launched into theatres, without much fanfare. Mixed critical reviews certainly did not help encourage moviegoers to head into cinemas to see Disney’s latest action-adventure flick, as opposed to the highly-popular Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. As a result, the big-budget animated film flopped at the box office, sinking the company’s efforts at exploring the sci-fi space genre. Well, until John Carter premiered, and we all know how that turned out. After ten years, Disney is breathing new life into the cult fantasy favorite by releasing Treasure Planet on Blu-ray. Will this generate the attention of new fans to check out the studio’s 43rd animated feature? Let’s hope so.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt energizes Jim Hawkins, the rebellious teenage protagonist, with boyish spirit and angst. Hawkins’ carefree existence of solar sailing on his home planet closes when a monster-like pilot’s spaceship crashes near his family’s inn, leaving behind a map of the legendary Treasure Planet. All of those daring stories of pirates and cyborgs Jim read about as a boy were real, and he and his mom’s persnickety friend, Dr. Doppler (the perfectly-cast David Hyde Pierce) set off to charter a mission to find that “Loot of a Thousand Worlds.”