Surely we all know the story. The Darling children — Wendy, Michael and John — are visitedby the ever-young Peter Pan, and they fly off with him to Neverland. There they battle thevillainous Captain Hook, and deal with the fact that, sooner or later, everybody (with oneexception) has to grow up.
Infinitely better than the bloated Hook, this is a first-rate adaptation of the tale. Theartistic design and cinematography are glorious, and the film is constant f…ast for the eyes. Thedarker aspects of the story are present, and Tinkerbell (Ludivine Sagnier) is, true to the story, amore disagreeable presence than she is in the Disney incarnation. Jason Isaacs does terrific workas both Hook and Mr. Darling, and the rest of the cast is spot-on as well. The only real difficultyis the unaccountable decision to cast an American actor in the title role. Many of the lines heutters clearly belong in an English mouth, and the result is rather odd. Still, highly recommendedfamily fare, and a good candidate as definitive version of this story.
The audio is very strong. The dialogue never distorts, and is never submerged by the musidand effects. These last sound fine, with nice separation on the effects, and some very judiciousplacement of the surround moments. There isn’t a completely enveloping effect, but the transferis still most creditable.
The colours are simply incredible here. Eye-popping, beyond rich, the colours are the verydefinition of “sumptuous.” Contrasts and blacks are equally strong, as are the flesh tones. Thereis very slight grain in a few shots, and the layer transition is a bit clumsy. Otherwise, the image israzor sharp, and truly a sight to behold. The aspect ratio is the original 2.40:1 anamorphicwidescreen.
No commentary, which is very disappointing. Instead, there is a plethora of featurettes. Theyare all very short, and most don’t amount to very much, being little more than promotionalmaking-of filler. The featurettes are broken down into four sections, each of which with aninitial featurette that is a completely useless, all-musical collection of film and production scenes,and no explanations of any kind.
Herein, then, are the features that are a little bit more useful (but often not by very much).“The Pirates’ Ship” section has “Through the Eyes of Captain Hook” (a frivolous video diary byIsaacs), “The Pirates vs the Lost Boys” (promotional making-of) and “The Lost Pirate Song”(recorded, but never filmed – we see the recording session). “Neverland Forest” offers“Tinkerbell: Behind the Fairy Dust” (a look at how those effects were realized), “I Do Believe inFairies” (behind the scenes of the fairy dance sequence) and “Princess Tiger Lily” (a tinyfeaturette whose only purpose is to reassure us that an honest-to-god Native American playedthat character). “The Black Castle” has “Learning to Fly” (the flying effects), “The Mermaids’Tale” (the make-up on those creatures) and the DVD-ROM features. “Home Under the Ground”has “The Legacy of Pan” – a short documentary hosted by Duchess Sarah Ferguson. Barely 10minutes long, this still generated the material for “The Duchess’s Outtakes.” “Lost Boys on theSet” is still more promo. The last section is “The Darling House.” Here there is the alternateending with incomplete FX (featuring the exquisite Saffron Burrows as the grown Wendy), thedeleted scenes involving Mr. Darling in the dog house, “Me and My Shadow” (another FXfeaturette) and “In the Dog House with Nana” (the dog actors).
The menu’s intro is animated, scored, and long. The transitions are also animated andscored, while the menu screens themselves are simply scored. When the disc loads, you gettrailers for The Cat in the Hat and Two Brothers.
So many features, so little content. But the film itself is first-rate, and the visuals are nothingshort of stunning.
Special Features List
- Alternate Ending
- Deleted Scenes
- “The Lost Pirate Song”
- “The Legacy of Pan” hosted by Duchess Sarah Ferguson
- DVD-ROM Features
- 14 Making-of Featurettes