Return To Never Land AKA Peter Pan: Return To Never Land
R1 - America - Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James Teitelbaum (7th January 2008).
The Film

"Peter Pan in Return to Neverland" is a feature length direct-to-DVD sequel to the classic animated Disney feature, "Peter Pan" (1983). The movie is set in London during World War II. Wendy (Kath Soucie), the little girl from the original story, is now grown up and has two children. She tells her kids all of the stories about her adventures with Peter Pan (Blayne Weaver). Wendy's little son Danny (Danny McDonough) is enthralled by the tales, but the slightly older daughter Jane (Harriet Owen) is getting a bit mature for the her mother's stories. Father is called away to war, and the kids are going to be evacuated from London to the countryside. Before the evacuation can occur, Captain Hook's (Corey Burton) flying pirate ship swoops down and captures Jane, whisking her off to Neverland. This is where things get a bit weak. Hook is in no way intimidating, and is in fact nothing but a slapstick caricature of a foolish French pirate, who has a bumbling crew of idiots following him around. Jane soon meets Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys, who are just as borderline autistic as the crew of pirates.
As Hook makes trouble for Peter and Jane, an octopus makes trouble for Hook. All the while, Jane is trying to get home. She doesn't initially find Peter charming, plus she and Tinkerbell don't hit it off, and she is concerned about her family in war-torn London. All of this is established fairly early on in the cartoon, and for the following hour or so, there are a series of adventures as the various protagonist and antagonists chase each other around Neverland. There isn't really a plot per se, just a series of scenes that will keep the kiddies occupied for seventy-two minutes.
The cell animation is fine, perfectly up to Disney standards, but is nothing spectacular. It is interesting to note that (according to the end credits) each of the principle characters had its own animation team. A few scenes also seem to have had a bit of a computer graphics digital assist.
So, visually the film is fine, but like the writing, which is fairly lackluster and basically free of a real story ("Jane wants to go home" is not a story), the music is pretty generic too. A few fragments of almost-songs pop up throughout the production, but none of them are particularly compelling.
Overall, it feels as this film was a quickie way for Disney to keep their Peter Pan property alive and to make some fast cash. It is not offensively bad, nor is it an embarrassing blemish on the Disney name, but it is by no means a must-see. These people can do better if they try: look at the original "Peter Pan" for proof!

Video

The film is presented in 1.66:1 aspect ratio, enhanced for widescreen televisions. Since 1.66:1 is a little less narrow than the standard widescreen ratio, there are slight black bars on the left and right of the screen. The running time for the feature is 1:12:29, divided into 26 chapters. The animation is bright and clear, with deep blacks and well-defined shadows, as one would expect from any animation produced by a modern studio. The print is as clean as can be - after all, this was a direct-to-video production - and there are no distracting artifacts.

Audio

The soundtrack is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound; spoken languages are English, Spanish, and French, with subtitles in English only. A DTS 5.1 surround option for English is included as well, and sounds more or less exactly the same as the Dolby Digital track. Dialogue for the cartoon is tethered to the center speaker with very few exceptions. Dialogue is always as clear as can be. Surrounds are used mostly for music and the occasional sound effect.

Extras

Buena Vista has released this film with a collection of short films, deleted scenes an interactive game and some bonus trailers. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up are "Disney Fairy Moments", a trio of computer generated short films each dealing with a different Tinkerbelle-like fairy. They are:

- "Rosetta and the Flower" which runs for 1 minute 31 seconds in which Rosetta the southern belle pixie talks to a flower.
- "Iridessa and the Lightbugs" runs for 1 minute 31 seconds in which Iridessa the African fairy wakes up some lightning bugs.
- "Tink and the Bell" which runs for 1 minute 31 seconds in which Tinkerbell frolics with a silver bell.

Two deleted scenes start with an intro that runs for 48 seconds with producer Chris Chase and president of Disney Toons Studios Sharon Morrill. The first scene is "Jane and Hook Meet for the First Time" which runs for 2 minutes 4 seconds, and is shown as a combination of unfinished pencil animation, stills, and finished color cells. The second and final deleted scene is "Gift for Tink" which runs for 1 minute 59 seconds and is also a combination of unfinished pencil animation, stills, and finished color cells. Tinkerbelle flies around and reads a bit of parchment.

The extras include a rather tedious interactive game called "Tinkerbell's Challenge Game: Quest for the Light".

And rounding out the extras are bonus trailers for:

- "Cinderella II" which runs for 1 minute 2 seconds.
- "The Aristocats" which runs for 1 minute 9 seconds.
- "My Friends Tigger and Pooh" which runs for 31 seconds.
- "Wish Gone Amiss" which runs for 57 seconds.
- "Snow Buddies" which runs for 2 minutes 40 seconds.
- "Tinkerbell" which runs for 46 seconds.
- "Wall E" which runs for 1 minute 36 seconds.
- "High School Musical 2" which runs for 1 minute 29 seconds.
- "101 Dalmatians" which runs for 50 seconds.
- "Disney Fairies" which runs for 31 seconds.
- "Disney Movie Rewards" which runs for 16 seconds.

Overall

The Film: C Video: A Audio: B+ Extras: C+ Overall: C

 


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