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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Children > Fantasy > Comedy > Return To Never Land (Disney DVD)

Return To Never Land (Disney DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: C+



Look in the sky! Is that a flying boy?  Wait, no, never mind; it is just another lackluster Disney sequel.  Return to Never Land is a sequel to the 1953 Disney smash hit Peter Pan (reviewed elsewhere on this site).  The film was originally going to share the same fate as many Disney sequels and go straight to DVD, but at the last minute Disney Studios decided to make the Peter Pan sequel into a theatrical release in 2002.  This is the second DVD release for this film, with the original being released in 2002 shortly after the theatrical release of the film.  The story of the sequel is similar to the original in that it stars our boy hero Peter Pan and his arch enemy Captain Hook, but the world has changed a bit since the original film.


The film’s storyline is simple, but adequate for a children’s tale.  The tale does not even compare to the original classic and attempts to just relive favorite moments of the past animated hit.  Down to the crocodile being replaced by an odd Octopus that has many similar mannerisms as the crocodile, the film just does not add up to a hit.  In the end, the film is sufficient but with most of the original cast deceased and the storyline milking Peter Pan for all the fairy dust he is worth this reviewer was not impressed.


The film takes place an undisclosed amount of years (but at least a decade) after the original Peter Pan film and follows the story of Wendy’s daughter Jane and her trip to Never Land.  The story starts in the midst of Germany’s bombings of London in the 1940’s.  Wendy, now grown up and married with two children of her own, tells her children tales of Peter Pan to calm them while the father is off in battle.  Jane, the eldest child, is stubborn and does not believe in such childish tales.  On a dark night in the old Darling Nursery Jane is snatched by none other than the infamous Captain Hook on his enchanted, flying, pirate ship.  In an attempt to lure Peter Pan to his death Captain Hook, once in Never Land, hangs Jane over a man eating OCTOPUS and of course Pan comes to the rescue.  The tale transforms into a quest to make Jane into a believer of the magic and wonder of Never Land; who initially doesn’t believe in flying or fairies.  Mixed up in a deal with Captain Hook to find treasure, will Jane become a believer or will all hope fade into the darkness along with Tink?


Like many recent Disney DVD releases (even sequels) the technical features are quite nice, but not yet up to par with Platinum releases or Blu-Ray.  The picture is presented in a 1.66 X 1 Widescreen enhanced for 16 X 9 televisions.  The picture quality is clear and color balanced.  The problem here, as with many Disney animation releases in recent years, is that the animation remains too clean and lacks depth, in turn losing the heart and intensity that past Disney releases contained.


As stated in previous reviews, with the advent of computers we have seen the loss of old techniques, which in turn leaves the picture quality lacking a certain depth and grittiness that is necessary to truly embrace the art.  The sound quality is clean with well balanced voices and strong music in its Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, but not sounding as good as the DTS sound releases on other Disney DVD sequels.  This reviewer has always complimented Disney on having great bonus features, but recent Non-Platinum releases have been lacking to a degree only containing some deleted scenes, a weak and unimpressive Tink Game, and a few more fairy moments centered features that left this reviewer wondering where the good features were?  All in all, the technicals were just ok.


I would say this release is for big Disney fans and kids, otherwise stay away.  This release is the flickering spirit of the original 1953 Peter Pan classic.



-   Michael P Dougherty II


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