No other animated character can claim to have had one big-screen feature each year for the past 12 years, but that alone is testament to the popularity of the time-travelling blue robot cat (not raccoon dog, mind you, which happens to be one of the running jokes in this movie). This 38th feature instalment in the Doraemon anime franchise sees the titular character and his boy companion Nobita embark on a seafaring journey to explore a mysterious island that has suddenly appeared off the southern coast of Japan, although when they eventually reach the volcanic land mass, they discover that there is more, much more, to the island than meets the eye.
As penned by novelist Genki Kawamura (who produced some of the most successful Japanese feature animations in recent memory, like 'Your Name', 'Fireworks' and 'The Boy and the Beast'), the story deliberately draws from some of the more memorable references of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic 'Treasure Island' novel, so those who remember the book will certainly recall the pirate named John Silver, his talking parrot and the boy whom Silver is fond of. In any case, the opening minutes of the movie give a quick rundown of these references, just before Nobita wakes up from his daydream and muses how he'd like to go on a real-life modern-day pirate adventure.
Nobita's wish - and perhaps to an equal extent, his pestering - become Doraemon's command, who pulls out a magical Treasure Hunter map to look for a yet-unexplored treasure island, as well as a miniature sailboat DIY kit and a magnifying glass to construct the square-rigged ship that they will use to reach the island. Nobita uses the Anywhere Door to ask his best friend and love interest Shizuka along, while the quick-tempered bully Gian and fox-faced rich kid Suneo invite themselves along the way. The quintet are also joined by the Mini-Doras, who prove resourceful as ever when the rest get into tight spots, so if you're keeping score, only Doraemon's younger sister Dorami sits out this one.
Without giving too much away, let's just say that Shizuka is kidnapped during their initial encounter with Flint and his band of pirates, owing to a striking resemblance she has with Flint's younger daughter Sarah. At the same time, Nobita will pick up Flint's elder son Flock, who reveals not only that he has run away from his father but also that Flint has some nefarious plan up his sleeve that will threaten the very fate and future of Planet Earth. It's not a literal adaptation of the book of course, but you'll appreciate the generous creative liberties that Kawamura and director Kazauki Imai have taken with the source material, even turning Flint's parrot into a chaperone robot named Quiz who likes to greet anyone and everyone he meets with riddles.
Make no mistake, this isn't just a feature-length version of the Saturday morning cartoons you'd probably acquaint the Doraemon character with; rather, Imai's film is really a rollicking adventure fit for the whole family (except of course for the fact that you'll have to be old enough to be able to read the subtitles to understand the dialogue). There is a genuine childlike sense of wonder and thrill every step of the way, thanks to Kawamura's inventive plotting as well as Imai's rich and vivid visual imagination. There are loads of humour and witticisms, courtesy of Doraemon's boundless gadgets and Quiz's verbal puzzles. And last but not least, there is even surprising poignance at the end of it, as Silver's ostensible selfish motivations are revealed to be no more than misguided obsessions about completing his beloved late wife's legacy.
It is no coincidence that 'Nobita's Treasure Island' has since gone and become the highest grossing instalment in Doraemon history, seeing as how there is plenty here to entertain those among us who are growing up and those among us who had grown up with the lovable robot cat. In particular, the latter will probably find the conclusion unexpectedly moving just as we did, and in fact come to sympathise with how Silver just wanted to do right for the sake of his children and their future. Like we said at the start, no other animated franchise has been as prolific or enduring, and this latest film is itself reason why Doraemon is so beloved and will likely continue to be for generations to come. There is treasure indeed in this fascinating time-travelling tale of discovery, friendship and reconciliation, so embrace your inner child and hop on for the adventure!
Review by moviexclusive from the Internet Movie Database.