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Title: Peter Pan: Return to Neverland

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :1.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:73

I know, I’m actually reviewing a Disney “Sequel”…. Normally the best I can say about a Disney sequel is that it should be left as a special feature on a dual feature pack, never to see the light of day except to torture your worst enemies with on a movie night. However, “Return to Neverland” is not a half bad sequel. It’s 50+ years too late, and a bit pedestrian, but it’s a cute romp and one of the FEW Disney sequels to actually hit the silver screen instead of being relegated to DTV slop. I’ve always LOVED the original “Peter Pan” and never seen the early 2000’s sequel, so I went into this one as blind as a bat. My expectations were about as low as you could get though. Disney sequels just do NOT end well. “Belle’s Magical World” is one of the FEW exceptions to that rule and I wasn’t about to be burned again. Surprisingly “Return to Neverland” was still quite enjoyable, even for it’s obvious budget shortcomings.

It’s WWII and Wendy Darling has all grown up and has kids of her own now. Jane (Harriet Owen) and Daniel (Andy McDonough) are at that age where Peter first visited Wendy, Daniel is enamored with Wendy’s stories of Peter Pan and can’t get enough of them. Jane is angry that she is being forced to move out of London into the countryside due to the Luftwaffe bombings, and refuses to believe the fanciful tales that her mother insists are true. Bitter and skeptical she is in for a rude awakening when reality is set upon by none other than Captain Hook. Infused with pixie dust, Hook and his ship has made it from Neverland in an effort to capture Wendy Darling as leverage against Peter Pan. Not realizing that people grow up in the real world Hook grabs Jane by mistake and hauls her back into the land of never ending youth.


Being rescued by Peter Pan, Jane still refuses to give into the boyish charms of Peter. Bitter and cynical she refuses to put her faith in Peter and instead trys to make her way back to reality by herself. Realizing that he has an opportunity, Captain Hook beguiles young Jane and gets her to lead him to Pan’s treasure in exchange for passage back to London. As you can guess, Hook is not exactly a man of his word and you find out that his real goal is getting young Peter and slicing him into little bits. Having a change of heart, finally accepted by the lost boys, Jane stages a daring rescue of Pan and finally succumbs to belief that maybe her mother was right.

A goofy romp, “Return to Neverland” is a bit more for the kids than for the adults. Devoid of the witty crossing of age groups, it plays strictly to the younger audiences. As you would expect, the fact that it was a theatrical film means that they’ve put a LOT more effort into the film than previous DTV sequels. The plot is pretty decent and the side characters are humorous as ever. What really makes the movie a bit rougher than it could be is the music. “Peter Pan” had one of THE best soundtracks and scores known to Disney and “Return to Neverland” misses the boat there with a decidedly modern, almost pop feeling sound track. As a result some of the magic is gone for us older generations. As a kids movie though, it’s decidedly entertaining and will be more than enough to satisfy the kiddy winks for an hour or so.


Rated G for General Audiences

Video :4stars:
“Return to Neverland” benefits from being a theatrical release. As a result more effort went into the art and the encoding than the standard haphazard fare of the regular DTV abominations. Framed at 1.69:1 (and odd ratio), we are privy to a rather solid video transfer. Colors are nice and rich with a lot of pop to the primaries. Detail is good, all the line art is there and un-smeared by excessive DNR that has plagued too many of Disney’s recent releases. It’s a little jarring to see the intermingling of hand drawn animation and CGI and they don’t always mesh well, the CGI is standard early 2000 era graphics, so they kind of stand out as pedestrian and stick out like a sore thumb amidst the lovely hand drawn work. Blacks are nice and inky with great detail in the shadow realm. The only real issues are some very minor banding and macroblocking. Everything else is very minimal and easily over looked. A nice solid transfer by Disney.

Audio :4stars:
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is just as good as the video. A nice, capable encode it does what it sets out to do quite well, even though its minimalistic budget shows through a lot of the time. Rather front loaded, it keeps to the front three speakers mainly, with only intermittent use of the back speakers. Dialogue though is very pleasing and clean. Everything is well balanced and there’s even several scenes with some good throaty low end to them. There’s some well-done scenes near the beginning in the “real” world that were the most impressive, with solid directionality and some deep impact explosions. While this was a theatrical movie it still doesn’t have the immersiveness that a native 5.1 theatrical track should have. It just isn’t that impressive. Capable, but not wildly impressive.

Extras :1.5stars:
• Deleted Scenes
• Pixie Previews
• Sneak Peeks
• Music Videos

Overall: :3.5stars:

What really sets “Return to Neverland” apart from the other Disney sequels , is the fact that it actually got a theatrical release and had some effort put into it. While most of Disney’s sequels are pure drek and nothing but a cash grab, “Return to Neverland” had some loving care put into it and you can tell that they at least TRIED to make it into the Disney canon. A bit pedestrian compared to the original, it is still a cute movie that will please the kids for sure and is quite palatable for the parents at the same time without making them want to put earplugs in the whole movie. Some solid video and audio raise it above some of the more deserving titles that have been shafted lately (*cough *cough “Sword in the Stone” *cough *cough) and is really only hampered by the lackluster set of additional features. I’d give it a rental for casual fans, but I’m sure most parents will go for a buy on this one.

Additional Information:

Starring: Corey Burton, Blayne Weaver, Harriet Owne
Directed by: Robin Budd, Donovan Cook
Written by: Temple Matthews
Aspect Ratio: 1.69:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French DD 5.1
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Rated: G
Runtime: 72 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 20th, 2013

Buy Peter Pan: Return to Neverland Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Rent It/Buy It

More about Mike

2,072 Posts
Thanks for the review. Good insight. I am a fan of Peter Pan so this will be a buy. :)

Plus, the kids always enjoy more animated movies so a further good buy.

P.S. I still watch the robin williams peter pan movie "Hook" every now and then.
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