BLU-RAY REVIEW: Peter Pan - Diamond Edition
Disney's Classic Hits Hi-Def Home Video With 3-Disc Set...
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If you or your parents are anything like me or mine, you grew up having watched Disney's 1953 animated feature Peter Pan. And you and your parents, like me and mine, wanted nothing more than to join Peter and the Lost Boys in Never Land, surrounded by adventure and never growing up. I know I did...
The 14th animated feature film by the Walt Disney Company and based on the play J.M. Barrie's play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, this classic has no doubt aged better than all of us as it featuring some of the most timeless characters ever captured on screen. Disney's Peter Pan has inspired children over the last half century to remember while we may all age, we're not forced to grow up. Having inspired at least one direct sequel and numerous spin-offs, there's simply nothing like Peter Pan today. Now, this Disney film, at 60 years old, holds up better than most films half its age and Disney's released a new three-disc set featuring a newly restored video and audio that'll impress even the harshest of critics.
The film's story is well known: Peter Pan and Tinker Bell travel to Edwardian London where they find Wendy Darling telling her younger brothers John and Michael a story about the fantasy character. Magically whisked away to Never Land, the trio soon find themselves surrounded by the Lost Boys, Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, Tiger Lily, mermaids and a whole slough of fun, trouble, and adventure.
Filled with brilliant character development, solid storytelling, engaging dialogue and impressive voice acting - including Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conried, Paul Collins and Tommy Luske - Peter Pan is truly a work of masterful cinema. Thankfully, Disney has brought the film to life gorgeously on this three-disc collection featuring impressive video, audio and a load of bonus material.
The 1080p video brings to life a restored and revitalized video featuring every trick the Disney restoration team could use to breath new life into the film stock, Peter Pan has never looked this good. The colors are clear and crisp, the animation flows smoothly and, while maybe not as impressive by today's standards, consider the film's age, it's nothing short of outstanding. Likewise Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track is nothing short of dynamic as it fills the sound stage and delivers an impressive use of all individual channels. And let's not forget the engaging and impressive score which fills the speakers and puts you right there in Never Land alongside Peter, Wendy and the entire cast.
As for bonus material, here the three-disc set shines. Besides the film on hi-def blu-ray, DVD, and digital copy, there is also a variety of both new and old special features. The film features a short intro by Diane Disney-Miller, who discusses her father's desire to adapt the original play and the film's artwork; Roy Disney then provides an in-depth audio commentary (avaialble on the previously release DVD as well). While somewhat unengaging at times, the information is no less insightful or important - especially for those who're fans of Disney's early work. The 40+ minute feature "Growing Up with Nine Old Men" tells the story of the nine original animators who worked at Disney. Peter Pan was the last film featuring all nine working together and here viewers get insight into their lives from those who knew them - their children.
15 minutes of deleted songs and scenes are also included as are over an hour of previously released bonus material, including five behind-the-scene featurettes and mini-documentaries; including "You Can Fly: The Making of Peter Pan," "In Walt's Words: Why I Made Peter Pan," "Tinker Bell: A Fairy's Tale," "The Peter Pan that Almost Was" and "The Peter Pan Story." Additional bonus material also previously available includes "Disney Song Selection," "Deleted Song: The Pirate Song," "Never Land: The Lost Song," "Music Video: Never Land, performed by Paige O'Hara" and "Music Video: The Second Star to the Right, performed by T-Squad." For those who're fans of the film's music, there are a great addition to the set and an appreciated addition.
For those who like to interact with the film while it's playing, the film features "Disney Intermission," which allows children (or the young at heart) to pause the film at any time and undergo "Pirate Training" while an optional sing-along track, "Peter Pan Sing-Along," provides lyrics to the film's songs while they play. DisneyView Side Bars also provide background filler for the black bars to either side of the film on your HD widescreen TV. The artwork of Disney background painter Cristy Maltese (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin) fills in the unused space and provides a slight distraction.
Other bonus features include approximately 15 minutes of "Sneak Peeks" for current and future Disney animated films, including The Little Mermaid 3D (late 2013), Mulan, Mulan II, Peter Pan in Return to Never Land, Wreck-It Ralph, The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and more.
Overall, if you grew up watching Peter Pan, you need to own this newly released three-disc version. It's not only a brilliant movie with a well-told story, memorable characters and awesome action, it's a tale with an important moral. If you're a parent, your children will love it; if you're an adult, you'll love remembering it. Do yourself a favor and take another trip to Never Land with Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Wendy, John and Michael and never, ever grow up...
Disney's Peter Pan - Diamond Edition Three-Disc Set is available now wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley