Miyazaki’s amazing vision still stands as the best winner in the history of this category.

The 75th annual Academy Awards, for the film year 2002.  The nominations were announced on February 11, 2003 and the awards were held on March 23, 2003.

Best Animated Film:  Spirited Away

  • Lilo and Stitch
  • Ice Age
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
  • Treasure Planet

Most Surprising Omission: n/a

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  n/a

Rank (out of 16) Among Best Picture Years:  #14

Oscar Score:  100

Alternate Oscar Score:  96.4

note:  So how does this year have an Oscar Score of 100 but an Alternate Oscar Score of 96.4?  That’s because the Oscar Score only counts films that reach the ***.5 threshold, and only two eligible films reached it and they were both nominated.  But the Alternate Oscar Score measures the five nominated films versus the five best eligible films (which, in this year, doesn’t include Metropolis which wasn’t Oscar eligible; if Metropolis had been included the AOS would have been 93.2).

non-nominated Oscar-Eligible Films (alphabetical):

  • Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights
  • Alibaba
  • El Bosque Animado
  • Eden  *
  • Hey Arnold! The Movie
  • Jonah — A VeggieTales Movie
  • Mutant Aliens
  • Pokemon 4 Ever
  • The Powerpuff Girls Movie
  • The Princess and the Pea
  • Return to Never Land
  • Stuart Little 2
  • The Wild Thornberrys Movie

note:  I haven’t seen Eden.
note:  Though I don’t consider Stuart Little 2 an animated film (if I did, it would appear just above Escaflowne on the list below), it did appear on the Academy’s eligible list.

The Complete List of Animated Films I Have Seen from 2002 (ranked, with stars, director, studio):

  1. Spirited Away  (****, Miyazaki, Disney (Ghibli))
  2. Lilo and Stitch  (****, DeBlois / Sanders, Disney)
  3. Metropolis  (***.5, Rintaro, Sony)
  4. Ice Age  (***, Wedge, 20th Century-Fox)
  5. Return to Never Land  (***, Budd, Disney)
  6. The Wild Thornberrys Movie  (***, Malkasian / McGrath, Paramount)
  7. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron  (**.5, Asbury / Clark, DreamWorks SKG)
  8. Treasure Planet  (**.5, Clements / Husker, Disney)
  9. Escaflowne  (**.5, Akane, Bandai Entertainment)
  10. Ogu y Mampato en Rapa Nui  (**.5, Rojas, Cineanimadores)
  11. Hey Arnold! The Movie  (**.5, Tucker, Paramount)
  12. The Powerpuff Girls  (**, McCracken, Warner Bros)
  13. Tristan & Isolde  (**, Schiel, Oniria Pictures)
  14. Alibaba  (**, Ganesarajah, Swinging Productions)
  15. The Princess and the Pea  (**, Swan, Visiplex Family Entertainment)
  16. El Bosque Animado  (**, Gomez / de la Cruz, Dygra Films)
  17. Little Otik  (**, Svankmajer, Zeitgeist Films)
  18. Jonah — A VeggieTales Movie  (**, Vischer / Nawrocki, FHE Pictures)
  19. Pokemon 4 Ever  (**, Yuyama, Miramax)
  20. Mutant Aliens  (*, Plympton, Apollo Cinema)
  21. Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights  (*, Kearsley, Columbia)

Consensus Awards:

  1. Spirited Away  (224 pts – Oscar, Annie, BFCA, NBR, NYFC, LAFC)
  2. Lilo and Stitch  (56 pts  –  Oscar, Annie, BFCA)
  3. Ice Age  (56 pts  –  Oscar, Annie, BFCA)
  4. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron  (56 pts  –  Oscar, Annie, BFCA)
  5. Treasure Planet  (20 pts  –  Oscar)

note:  Spirited Away‘s Consensus record will be tied in 2004 and then broken in 2006 after the PGA, Globes and BAFTAs all add their own awards.  But Spirited Away and The Incredibles remain the only films to win every existing award; while other films haven’t lost any awards, there has never, aside from those two films, been complete agreement among the critics groups (two of which weren’t giving awards yet at this point).  But that doesn’t matter, in one sense, because since 2004, the critics groups that gave awards at this point (NYFC, LAFC, NBR) have never agreed on a film yet.

The Race:  What race?  Seriously.  Lilo & Stitch had the best reviews for a Disney film in years and solid box office.  Ice Age had big box office.  Those two were the only animated films to gross over $75 million.  But it was obvious from long before it received a U.S. release that Spirited Away was going to be the film to beat, as it had been the biggest film in Japanese history (its Japanese box office record wouldn’t be broken until Frozen in 2014) and had amazing reviews.  The only question would be what the last two nominees would be since, with 18 eligible films, there would be a full slate of 5 nominees.  Among the other 15 eligible films, full of box office duds and mixed reviews, two more nominees would have to be found.

The Results:  Spirited Away was in, of course, as was Lilo & Stitch and Ice Age.  The last two spots went to the two big animated powerhouses, Disney (Treasure Planet, in spite of a massive box office loss) and Spirit (mixed reviews but the only other animated film to break $50 million at the box office).  But everyone knew Spirited Away was going to win because it was winning everything, the first film to make a completely sweep of the awards.

Sadly, the only Oscar win for Hayao Miyazaki, the greatest animation director in film history.

Spirited Away

  • Director:  Hayao Miyazaki
  • Writer:  Hayao Miyazaki
  • Producer:  Toshio Suzuki
  • Animation Studio:  Studio Ghibli
  • Distribution Studio:  Buena Vista (Disney)
  • Stars:  Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki
  • Oscar Nominations:  Animated Film
  • Oscar Points:  40
  • Length:  125 min
  • Genre:  Fantasy
  • MPAA Rating:  PG
  • Box Office Gross:  $10.05 mil  (#150  –  2002)  *
  • note:  $274.9 million worldwide, good enough to be #16 for the year.  Until 2012, no other film would earn this much money worldwide with this low a percentage earned in the States.
  • Release Date:  20 September 2002
  • Metacritic Score:  94
  • Ebert Rating:  ****
  • My Rating:  ****
  • My Rank:  #3  (year)  /  #1  (nominees)  /  #1  (winners)
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  Picture, Original Screenplay, Original Score, Animated Film, Foreign Film (2001)
  • Nighthawk Points:  175

The Film:  When I first met Veronica, in the fall of 1999, I had heard of Princess Mononoke but knew anything about its director, Hayao Miyazaki.  I had never seen any of his films.  When we first started dating, she had me watch Kiki’s Delivery Service, one of her absolute favorite films and though it was enjoyable, it didn’t move me much.  But then she had me watch My Neighbor Totoro and I went through the roof for that film.  It sits on the list of my 100 Favorite Films and I extolled the long list of products we own that are connected to it.  That was 2000.  Then came 2001, with the new Miyazaki film in Japan, shattering box office records.  And we waited with baited breath for its U.S. release, which came on 20 September 2002 and there we were, sitting in line at the Fox Tower, waiting to see it.  And we went it and watched it.  Holy crap.

I saw Fantasia in the theater for my 16th birthday and was blown away, getting the film and the soundtrack for Christmas that year.  I knew walking out of Spirited Away that I had just seen the only animated film that could compare with Fantasia for that top spot on the all-time list.  It was a combination of everything I could have wanted to see: a story of self-discovery for a young girl (has there ever been a writer who does a better job with young girls than Miyazaki? – although, watching it again I also realized how great other Ghibli films have done with young girls), a magical world just waiting to be discovered on the other side of a hill, magical creatures that have a bit of the natural world seeping in (that poor river creature, deluged with garbage), amazing music, a brilliant, vibrant world of color and imagination and a villain who is interesting and not cliched.

I could spend pages and pages on this film and possibly only scratch the surface.  So, instead I will focus on two specific things that make this film such a magical experience.  The first is the character of Sen, the young girl Chichiro, who loses her name, yet manages to hold on to it just enough that she doesn’t lose herself.  Look at her growth in this film.  In those opening scenes, she lies on the back seat of the car, feeling sorry for herself (“I finally get a bouquet and it’s a going away present”), she doesn’t want to walk through that tunnel with her parents and they seem to think she’s just being a grump and a mope.  But then, when things start to go horribly wrong, she is able to keep it together.  She holds true to what she is told, refusing to leave without the offer of a job.  She works hard, struggling to save the “stink demon” before she is able to discover the truth.  She is not only loyal to Haku, risking her life numerous times to come to his rescue, but she loves him with all her soul, a love strong enough to break a spell.  She is willing to walk out through the water, drawing out the terrifying No Face and bring him to safety.  She will face down two different witches and come out on the other side.  She has the gift of her old friends to save her name.  She has the gift of her new friends to hold her steadfast.  She has her love which will save the day.  She has her vision of her parents which will see her safely home.  Like Dorothy, she enters the magical realm and comes out whole, journeying back home because of her strength and determination.  She is one of the great heroines on film.

But let us not lose sight of the other part of the film I want to discuss: the world itself.  Many films end up with sequels, either because the story is not quite done or because the characters are interesting enough that we want to follow them some more or because the film was financially successful and the studio wants to capitalize on that.  Spirited Away doesn’t cry out for a sequel because Sen’s story is told, complete and whole.  But it screams out for potential spin-offs.  Not for the characters.  For the world.  What is this about abandoned theme parks scattered around the country?  Who are these other spirits (like that hilariously giant radish spirit?)?  Who are those ghost like spirits on the train during Sen’s journey to Zeniba?  What exactly is No Face, where does he come from and what happened to him that went so wrong in the bathhouse?  What is happening in the world to so pollute the River Spirit that others think it is a stink demon?  What is the story behind the divide between the two sisters?  How did characters such as Rin and Kamaji, how did they end up in the bathhouse and where do they expect to escape to on the train?  Where does that train lead to?

All of these questions occurred to me while watching the film because Miyazaki creates this intense, beautiful, magical world and populates it with fascinating potential stories, all of which could have entire films.  It is unlike anything I have ever seen on film, which is perhaps why I return to it so often.

Disney’s best film in a decade.

Lilo & Stitch

  • Director:  Dean DeBlois  /  Chris Sanders
  • Writer:  Dean DeBlois  /  Chris Sanders
  • Producer:  Clark Spencer
  • Animation Studio:  Walt Disney Animation
  • Distribution Studio:  Buena Vista  (Disney)
  • Stars:  Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere, David Ogden Stiers, Ving Rhames
  • Oscar Nominations:  Animated Film
  • Oscar Points:  20
  • Length:  85 min
  • Genre:  Kids
  • MPAA Rating:  PG
  • Box Office Gross:  $145.79 mil  (#14  –  2002)
  • Release Date:  21 June 2002
  • Metacritic Score:  73
  • Ebert Rating:  ***.5
  • My Rating:  ****
  • My Rank:  #17  (year)  /  #19  (nominees)
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  Animated Film
  • Nighthawk Points:  20

The Film:  In the 2000’s, Disney released 11 official Walt Disney Animated Films (the official list can be found here).  I didn’t see any of them in the theater.  For the most part, that doesn’t bother me.  When, after Tangled, I ranked the first 50 films, only one of those 11 films made the top half.  It was this film.  When Disney had revived itself with the Disney Renaissance from 1989 to 1994 it had been partially the stories, partially the animation and a whole lot of the music that had earned it such plaudits.  It was the music that stepped off badly in the late 90’s.  Without hyperbole, I couldn’t hum you a single song written for a Disney Animated film in this decade while I could, without hesitation, hum you a dozen songs written from 1989 to 1994 and probably a dozen just from Tangled, Frozen and Moana.  That is particularly relevant to Lilo and Stitch, which is not only the one film from this decade that did make the top half of my rankings but in fact ended up all the way up at #11.  In Lilo and Stitch, the filmmakers weren’t bogged down by a mediocre, forgettable soundtrack.  They simply slotted in several Elvis songs, including a few of his best (“Suspicious Minds”, “Hound Dog”, “Burning Love”) and then went to work on the characters and the story.  This is the one film where the music doesn’t make the film great but is just some added fun.  The film is great on its own.

Stitch isn’t really the name of the blue thing that crashes on Earth.  He’s Experiment 626.  He was made by the hilariously arrogant Dr. Jukiba who starts to insist “I would never . . .” but only gets that far before the evidence of his work is placed in front of him and he finishes “make more than one.”  Stitch says something so hilariously obscene that it causes one of the robots at the trial to start vomiting up spare parts and Jukiba is thrown in prison and Stitch is banished.  But Stitch manages to escape with some hilarious (and disgusting) ingenuity and he crashes on Kaua’i.  As Jukiba puts it “His destructive programming is taking effect. He will be irresistibly drawn to large cities, where he will back up sewers, reverse street signs, and steal everyone’s left shoe.”  Unfortunately, Stitch is about to learn there are no big cities, as he rides a Big Wheel all over the island and sees water everywhere blocking his escape.  So he’s stuck pretending to be a dog for the young Lilo, a kid who causes problems for her older sister.  Both sisters are well developed.  The older one, Nani, is desperately trying to hold on to to a job and take care of her little sister because the social worker, Cobra Bubbles, is going to take her away.  Lilo is bitter because her parents are gone and she doesn’t want to be told what to do by her older sister.  We understand both sisters and they act like the ages they are (like when Nani pretends that gravity is affecting her and she collapses on Lilo).  They’re both just kids trying to survive.

All of these characters come together in hilarious ways.  Mr. Bubbles dresses like a CIA agent and sounds menacing (because he’s voiced by Ving Rhames).  Dr. Jukiba is dragged to Earth to capture Stitch but Stitch keeps outsmarting him and his handler, Agt. Pleakley, who knows a lot less than he thinks.  Lilo just wants to enjoy her dog, spraying him with water when he’s bad and teaching him to hula and to dress and sing like Elvis (this is funnier than you think).  Nani has to balance finding a new job and playing at being an adult and also just being a big sister and taking her younger sister (and her dog) along with her on her surfboard, because hell, we are in Hawaii after all.

Lilo and Stitch is the breeze of fresh air in a long drought at Disney.  There hadn’t been anything this good since Aladdin (yes, Lion King has great songs, but this is a better film) and there wouldn’t be anything this good again until Tangled (it’s not a coincidence that, in spite of increasingly higher ticket prices, no official Disney Animated Film would make more money domestically until Tangled).  In the final moments without dialogue, you even get the hilarious visual image of Stitch dressing up in Nani’s bikini top and a towel to form his own costume.  It’s just too bad that it had to go up against the juggernaut that is Spirited Away.

Come for the squirrel. Then pretty much give up. Repeat for several more films.

Ice Age

  • Director:  Chris Wedge
  • Writer:  Michael J. Wilson  /  Michael Berg  /  Peter Ackerman
  • Producer:  Lori Forte
  • Animation Studio:  Blue Sky
  • Distribution Studio:  20th Century-Fox
  • Stars:  Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Goran Visnjic
  • Oscar Nominations:  Animated Film
  • Oscar Points:  20
  • Length:  81 min
  • Genre:  Kids
  • MPAA Rating:  PG
  • Box Office Gross:  $176.38 mil  (#9  –  2002)
  • Release Date:  15 March 2002
  • Metacritic Score:  60
  • Ebert Rating:  ***
  • My Rating:  ***
  • My Rank:  #75  (year)  /  #51  (nominees)
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  none
  • Nighthawk Points:  n/a

The Film:  “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  Mark Twain wrote that, although he attributed it to Disraeli (though it doesn’t appear anywhere in his writings and that’s probably appropriate).  Like many people do, I like to use things to prove my point and sometimes I use the opposite to prove my point.  In the annual Top 10 Box Office list that appears in my Year in Film series, I often point out crappy American films that don’t make the worldwide Top 10 list to show the crappy taste of my fellow Americans.  But I can use the presence of something on a worldwide list as evidence for the opposite and I will do so here.

The Ice Age films are phenomenally successful at the international level.  But they are not huge successes at the domestic level.  None of the films has made over $200 million in the States, which means within a couple of years none of them will be in the Top 200 films all-time.  Yet, two of the films are in the Top 50 all-time worldwide.  That’s because, after the first film, all the subsequent films have earned at least 2/3 of their total gross internationally and the last two have earned over 80% outside the States.  So what is my point?  My point is that these films are successful in places where they are dubbed.  That means the dialogue and the actors involved in them aren’t that important.  The Pixar films require that you listen to them, that you pay attention.  You can’t just look at what you see on screen and be happy with that.  Blue Sky continues to pay money to the stars of their franchise when really no one cares.  The best thing about the Ice Age films, ever since the first one, is the pre-historic squirrel, Scat, who is voiced by the director.  All of that money is wasted on the stars because really, no one cares.  Their story isn’t very interesting and they don’t add much to the film.  The Madagascar films suffer from the same problem (and again, the best voice in the cast is actually the director, not one of the highly paid stars) but at least the Oscars have never nominated one of the Madagascar films.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that these films aren’t all that good and that what good there is in them usually happens in the first few minutes, or sometimes in a completely separate short film before the film even starts.  That begins in this film, where poor Scat is just desperate to get his nut.  Those scenes are funny.  But then we get into the actual story where a wooly mammoth, a sloth and a saber-tooth tiger must end up teaming up to protect a human infant.  Never mind that the movie is completely ridiculous and mixes animals from different time periods; it’s a kids animated film.  Try not to think about this film has animation that is not on a par with the first Toy Story film even though that had been released seven years earlier.  This animation isn’t that much more advanced than Tin Toy, which Pixar had made back in 1988, so Blue Sky had a long way to go.  But the biggest problem with the film is that it’s basic a giant sitcom.  Three mis-matched people end up in charge of a child.  A lot of movies had already been made like that.  And if this had been the only film, then that wouldn’t have been a problem.  We could just remember this as some decent entertainment, a mid-range *** film that isn’t all that great but is just fine for a kids animated film.  But they kept making sequels and they wanted to make the gruff characters more and more lovable and eventually this series did become just a giant sitcom and completely pointless.  Well, not completely pointless, because international audiences continue to flock to it for some reason and so they continue to make the films because they are clearly profitable.  Your best bet is to just watch this one and give it up after that.

“A Motion Picture Experience for Everyone”. Sure, if you want everyone to be bored.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

  • Director:  Kelly Asbury  /  Lorna Cook
  • Writer:  John Fusco
  • Producer:  Jeffrey Katzenberg  /  Mireille Soria
  • Animation Studio:  DreamWorks Animation
  • Distribution Studio:  DreamWorks SKG
  • Stars:  Matt Damon, James Cromwell, Daniel Studi
  • Oscar Nominations:  Animated Film
  • Oscar Points:  20
  • Length:  83 min
  • Genre:  Kids
  • MPAA Rating:  G
  • Box Office Gross:  $73.28 mil  (#38  –  2002)
  • Release Date:  24 May 2002
  • Metacritic Score:  52
  • Ebert Rating:  ***
  • My Rating:  **.5
  • My Rank:  #166  (year)  /  #57  (nominees)
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  none
  • Nighthawk Points:  n/a

The Film:  DreamWorks had hit the ball out of the park with Shrek, getting huge box office, the start of a franchise, critical admiration and the first ever Oscar in the category of Best Animated Film.  But it would take time to follow up on that success, so what was coming up next?  Well, it turned out to be a movie about a horse.  Now, I have made my feelings clear more than once about movies about a horse.  This film at least has the excuse that it’s animated and animated films about animals have a long and treasured history.  But it’s clear that DreamWorks just didn’t really have much of a plan for how to go forward, so they went with that old stand-by and hoped for the best.

Well, they didn’t exactly get the best on any level.  First of all, the critical admiration for Shrek definitely didn’t carry over, with Spirit earning mixed reviews.  Second, the powers that be decided to open it as counter-programming against the 4th weekend of Spider-Man and the 2nd weekend of Attack of the Clones.  It opened in 4th place and earned less in its entire theatrical run than Shrek had made in its first 9 days.  Even had it opened at a better time, it’s not likely it would have done that well.  They just didn’t invest enough in the film.  And I’m not talking about the animation itself, which was fairly solid, even if they make the horse’s face sometimes look a little too human.  But it’s a simple story of a horse that is running free, is captured by men, is forced into service in the calvary, breaks out with the help of a Native American and then ends up working on a railroad before it realizes that the railroad is headed for where it was raised and it rebels (yes, seriously).

Now, there are several problems with the film.  The first is the way the dialogue is done.  There isn’t much dialogue in the film and thankfully the animals don’t actually speak, but there is narration by Matt Damon and it’s pretty weak and boring.  The actual dialogue comes from the humans, all of whom seem to have been grabbed directly for stereotype central and placed right into the film.  The second problem is with the scope of the film.  The horse itself is captured in the Cimarron Range in Colorado but then seems, almost magically, to be in the Grand Canyon, hundreds of miles away.  The filmmakers don’t seem to have a good grasp on geography.  Indeed, until the horse was brought there, I couldn’t figure out why a film about the Cimarron had begun with an eagle flying over the Grand Canyon (and that shot still really seems to be in there so that the animators can show off their nature drawings).  But that brings up another point.  The animation is strong when it comes to nature – those parts of the film look beautiful.  But when it comes to creating animal lifeforms, whether the horses or the humans, they don’t do nearly as well.  There is another problem as well, and it’s a doozy.  After several pondering moments of nature shots and some opening Matt Damon narration, we suddenly begin with a song, and oh good lord, it’s a reminder that sometime after recording Waking Up the Neighbors, Bryan Adams turned into some kind of musical freak incapable of producing a decent song.  There just wasn’t enough story to fill the film so they kept getting Adams to put in songs and it made me keep lurching for the fast-forward button on the remote.

One last thing about this film.  I assume it was partially supposed to appeal to people who like horses and like to ride horses (which is not me).  So, how are they supposed to take the calvary colonel’s violent attempts to break Spirit?  Would they be repulsed by that?  If so, do they know how wild horses get broken so that they can be used by man?

I do have to give credit to the film for not making the horses anthropomorphic.  But I give the film very little other credit and I think everyone involved must know that the only reason that Spirit managed to score an Oscar nomination is that because in 2002, for some strange reason, there were enough films to merit five Oscar nominees for the only time prior to 2009.  The problem was that only two of those films were actually good enough to deserve nominations but the Academy still had to hand out three more nominations.

Wow, look at all the fancy colors. Oh, wait, should we have spent some time on the script as well?

Treasure Planet

  • Director:  Ron Clements  /  John Musker
  • Writer:  Ron Clements  /  John Musker  /  Rob Edwards  /  Ted Elliott  /  Terry Rossio  (inspired by the novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson)
  • Producer:  Ron Clements  /  John Musker  /  Roy Conli  /  Peter Del Vecho
  • Animation Studio:  Walt Disney Animation
  • Distribution Studio:  Buena Vista  (Disney)
  • Stars:  Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Thompson, David Hyde Pierce, Brian Murray, Martin Short
  • Oscar Nominations:  Animated Film
  • Oscar Points:  20
  • Length:  95  min
  • Genre:  Kids
  • MPAA Rating:  PG
  • Box Office Gross:  $38.17 mil  (#69  –  2002)
  • Release Date:  27 November 2002
  • Metacritic Score:  60
  • Ebert Rating:  **.5
  • My Rating:  **.5
  • My Rank:  #172  (year)  /  #58  (nominees)
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  none
  • Nighthawk Points:  n/a

The Film:  Ron Clements and John Musker have had an interesting career co-directing Disney animated films together.  They began with a decent film (The Great Mouse Detective) but then they flourished with the Disney Renaissance, kicking it off with The Little Mermaid and landing another classic with Aladdin.  Unfortunately, then they directed the terrible Hercules before hitting with the mediocre Treasure Planet, a film that was a notorious box-office bomb.  They would later rise with The Princess and the Frog and just last Thanksgiving would get back to the high mark with the magnificent Moana.  As I mentioned in the Introduction, they are among the few directors who have been nominated in the Best Animated Film category three times, though they have never won.

This film in simply uninspired.  The idea had been to do Treasure Island in space.  Perhaps they thought the adventure would carry them through on the story and that they could just fill the film with visuals, aliens and robots and everything would take care of itself?  The problem is that they left too much for the story to carry and not enough for the film.  Treasure Island has been made many times; indeed, it was the first completely live action film that Disney ever made, back in 1950.  So if you’re going to do something different with it, you need to fill that in.  The Muppets had made a version in 1996 and though it wasn’t very good, it could at least take the muppet personalities and make use of those within the course of the story.  The story just isn’t filled in enough in this film.

You know the story well enough by now.  Jim Hawkins runs off to adventure on the ship looking for the treasure and hoping to avoid Long John Silver.  But that’s about it.  There’s no depth to the characters, no real depths to the story.  There pirate left behind is a robot, the captain is a cat and the doctor is a dog.  But those are just ideas; they aren’t really fleshed out.  In the past, when characters weren’t given a lot of depth (what do we really know about Eric the prince in The Little Mermaid other than that Ariel loves him and that he’s not a stuffed shirt?), the films were filled with beautiful music that helped carry us through.  There’s nothing like that in this film.  Those films constantly ran around 90 minutes and were filled with great songs.  This film runs 95 minutes, doesn’t have much in the way of music (it does have a couple of completely unmemorable songs (to the point where I just watched the film a few hours ago and I can’t even remember them) and it still doesn’t have enough time to give us actual characters.