Disney's classic Peter Pan thinks some happy thoughts and returns from the Neverland Vault to Blu-ray. A fan favorite, the film celebrates its 65th Anniversary while the Blu-ray is content with recycling the same splendid video transfer and effective audio mix. Those who previously owned the 2013 Diamond Edition release shouldn't feel any pressure to purchase. However, if you missed out on that release, this Signature Collection edition is a more cost-effective option while giving you the most complete release to date, with all of the previous bonus features as well as a handful of new featurettes to pick through. Highly Recommended.
"Second star to the right and straight on till morning."
As I feel that our coverage for the 2013 Diamond Edition of Peter Pan was fairly complete, I strongly encourage our readers to read that review HERE.
For myself, Peter Pan has been and likely will always be one of my favorites. As a kid, Peter Pan was part of a pair of films alongside Superman: The Movie that made me believe that I could fly. Several jumps from various heights later (thankfully without injury), I learned that it took a lot more than a red cape and happy thoughts to achieve flight. But the point is that it made me believe that it was possible. Through imagination, I was 100% convinced if I ran fast enough and believed I could do it, I would be zipping around my home and bouncing off the ceiling in no time.
While differing from the original stories and a radical departure from any previous stage version, I feel Disney's Peter Pan is the truest adaptation strictly because it taps into the spirit of J.M. Barrie's stories. All of the characters and locations were designed in such a way that a child's imagination would easily be transported to. Like so many silly games of pretend kids play at recess, Peter Pan always felt like a piece of that sort of whimsy. A story a child would concoct with a band of friends and live out in vivid detail in the world of imagination where anything and everything is possible.
Now, even I have to admit that the film does feel more than a bit dated when it comes to the presentation of native people. To call these depictions an egregious stereotype would be a bit of an understatement. Thankfully these moments are relatively brief and everything else in the film is such a grand and entertaining adventure.
When I was a kid, I always laughed whenever the lethal crocodile appeared on the screen and the delight the creature took in tormenting poor captain hook with the sound of the ticking clock. Something about that crocodile taking such a delight in driving Hook mad stuck with me and watching the film again after a few years away from it, I'm glad to see that it still makes me laugh.
Peter Pan probably isn't the best or grandest Disney creation, but it is still a favorite that has been treasured by fans for 65 years. This film's enduring status as a classic is probably why Hollywood keeps attempting to cash in with soulless live action retreads. We didn't need the 2003 live-action Peter Pan, we didn't need 2015's Pan (even though it was pretty good). This first time out from Disney was pitch-perfect family entertainment and it is still the reigning king in my book. When I have little ones tearing around my home, I can't wait to plop them down and put this film on for them. I look forward to hopefully seeing the same reactions I had to it when I was a kid.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Peter Pan makes another return to Blu-ray courtesy of Disney in a two-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital release. Pressed onto a Region Free BD-50 disc, the discs are housed in a standard sturdy snapper Blu-ray case with identical slipcover artwork. The disc loads to previews for upcoming Disney releases that you can watch or skip directly to an animated main menu with traditional navigation options. The included Digital Code is redeemed through Movies Anywhere and ports to the various streaming providers like VUDU, iTunes, and FandangoNow.
For this latest release on Blu-ray, Peter Pan doesn't appear to have been given a fresh scan. Near as I can figure this is the exact same 1.33:1 1080p transfer for 2013. This isn't exactly a bad thing. The image still showcases some impressive and beautiful details, clean lines, wonderful colors, and terrific black levels with even contrasts. I was a fan of the 2013 transfer and remain so with this release.
However, as many noted previously and similarly to their recent Signature Collection release of Bambi, the image doesn't sport much in the way of any discernible film grain. I wouldn't go into the camp of calling it DNR'd to hell and gone as it doesn't feature the trademark smoothness of aggressive noise reduction, but at the same time, there is something slightly inorganic about it. A little more texture would go a long way to appeasing passionate fans. Just the same, this is still a crisp and beautiful image.
Like the video presentation, this Signature Collection Anniversary Edition sports the same DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio mix as the 2013 Diamond Edition. And again, the original mono track is included - but sadly isn't a lossless track, still the compressed and flat sounding Dolby Digital mix that has been carried over from previous DVD releases.
Just the same, I do get a kick out of the 7.1 track as it offers up a nice immersive quality to it. Dialogue is clean and clear without any issue. The wonderful score is prominent and keeps the action and adventure lively. The ticking clock of the crock followed by Hook's shrieks and howls of terror are mixed for maximum impact and pushes the comedy nicely.
As this release of Peter Pan comes packed with all of the bonus feature content from previous DVDs and the 2013 Blu-ray, I'll be focusing on what is new with this particular package. While the new material may not be plentiful, expansive, or open up new insights about the film and Walt's passion for bringing the story to life, what's here is pretty great just the same. If you want a break down of the classic bonus features, take a look at our previous review HERE
Stories From Walt's Office: Walt & Flight (HD 4:15) This is a very brief but interesting look at Walt Disney's passion for flight after witnessing early aviation feats as a child to becoming an airplane enthusiast using his own private planes to scout locations for his theme parks.
A Darling Conversation With Wendy & John: Kathryn Beaumont and Paul Collins (HD 8:16) Again, this one isn't very long, but it's nice. As I recently got to do a phone interview with Kathryn Beaumont, this feature is pretty close to that very pleasant experience as she was very sweet and informative - with Paul Collins, this feature looks and sounds like a couple of old co-workers who hadn't seen each other reminisce about the good old days. I do wish it was longer as it's a nice inside look at what it was like to be at Disney.
"You Can Fly" - Oke (HD 2:11) This is simply a video/sing-along of the classic song.
"Never Smile At A Crocodile" - Oke (HD 1:48) This is a visually reimagined version of the song as it originally had lyrics, but were deleted from the finished film.
Peter Pan is one of those childhood favorites that continues to delight. For my money, it's the best film to tap into the playful side of imagination and what it's like to be a kid when you have to make up your own adventures. Other Peter Pan movies have come and gone, but this one will always remain. 65 years later, the film is still a joy. Disney brings Peter Pan back out of the vault for this Signature Collection Anniversary Edition and adds it to the growing list of Signature Collection titles. Recycled from the previous Blu-ray, this release sports the same impressive A/V presentation and the impressive collection of new and old bonus features will give fans plenty of happy thoughts. If you already have the previous release, you're probably all set, but if you missed out and don't want to break the bank for that release, this new Blu-ray release of Peter Pan is Highly Recommended.