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Overall Grade
2.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3.5 Stars
Supplements
1 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Rent it

Return to Never Land

Street Date:
August 20th, 2013
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
September 27th, 2013
Movie Release Year:
2002
Studio:
Disney/Buena Vista
Length:
72 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated G
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

'Return to Never Land', which is the sequel to Disney's 1953 classic 'Peter Pan', was made a whopping fifty years later. Sure it grossed over $110 million in theaters, but this sub-par sequel has direct-to-home-video written all over it. Disney is known for releasing sequels to their animated classics straight-to-DVD, but every once in a while, they get a wild hair and put one in theaters. Most of the time, these films are on a much smaller budget, have a shoddy script, and only appeal to kids under eight. This is the case with 'Return to Never Land'.

I get that Disney is a money making business, but this seems to be a greedy and quick way to make an easy buck. It felt half-assed from the voice work to the animation. All was stale, which is unfortunate, because Peter Pan and the lost boys are supposed to be full of fun and adventure. This is not the case here. Even the storyline was uninspired as it appeared to be ripped off from Steven Spielberg's 'Hook.'

The story is set in the 1940s during World War II, where Wendy Darling is grown up and has kids of her own, a daughter Jane, and a son Danny. Jane is a complete brat and doesn't deserve the things she has, as she is always unhappy and complaining about something. She hates magic and the stories of Peter Pan that her mother tells her. If she were my kid, I would strap her up 'Clockwork Orange' style, and make her watch videos on how to be well-mannered and have fun.

Meanwhile, Captain Hook is still hell-bent on vengeance on Peter Pan and the lost boys and travels to Wendy's house with Smee to kidnap her in an effort to lure out Pan. However, he ends up taking Jane, as he mistakes her for Wendy, and they go to Never Land, where he throws her to the clutches of a giant octopus. Now, I'm not sure why Disney chose an octopus, maybe they were the new fad back in 2002, but to leave out the iconic crocodile completely is just asinine. But Peter saves Jane and Smee saves Hook from the Octopus fight, and both regroup.

Jane meets the Lost Boys and Tinker Bell, but could care less, as she only wants to go home and doesn't believe in this non-sense and couldn't be bothered. Through Jane being an awful person, Tinker Bell starts to die, because Jane doesn't believe in her. If that wasn't enough, Jane makes a deal with Captain Hook in that she will help find buried treasure in return for her safe passage home. Well of course, Hook secretly wants to destroy Pan and the lost boys, but Jane cares nothing of this.

But this is a Disney movie after-all, so after spending a little bit of time with the lost boys (not Corey Feldman and Corey Haim) and Pan, she eventually starts to enjoy herself and believe in magic. But it's too late for some involved as Tinker Bell dies and Pan and the lost boys are captured by Hook, all thanks to Jane. But now, Jane likes Pan, so there is an ensuing battle where everything works out nicely and Tink magically comes back to life.

It's not a particularly good story. The writing and dialogue are laughable, with no good music or songs to sing along to. The voice acting is dull and bland, however Blayne Weaver adds some good emotion and comedy to Pan this time around. Even the animation seems to not be on a high Disney standard here. This felt like a quick way to earn an easy dollar with a minimum amount of effort. This could have been much better, but I can only imagine that kids under eight could enjoy this. The rest of us will want to leave ten minutes in.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Despite its sub-par animation, this video presentation comes with a nice 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The colors are easy on the eyes and look crisp and clean. The greens, blues, purples, and reds all look gorgeous and seem to pop off screen. The line art is well done, with some decent detailed backgrounds.

The black levels are deep and inky with every color seeming nicely saturated and balanced. There is a little bit of motion blur and macro-blocking from time to time though. Other than that, the other compression issues are not here. This is a solid video presentation, but not a top notch one.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

This release has a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and sounds good. Again, this isn't something that you would demo to your friends or family, but it gets the job done. Dialogue is always crisp and clear with not evidence of pops, cracks, or hissing. The dialogue is also well-balanced on the center channel. The ambient noises do pop up often and tend to come out the surrounds nicely, however at times they're a bit soft.

There is some directionality to this audio mix when we travel to Never Land, but most of the time, this is a front-heavy audio track. I was hoping for a bigger sound with some good bass with the Octopus, but that never happened. The score and songs all do a decent job and never drown out the dialogue or sound effects here. This is a decent audio mix, but it could have been better.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 8 mins) - There are five deleted scenes with some in rough shape to some that are fully produced. Nothing really of value here.
  • Pixie Previews (HD, 6 mins) - If you love Tinker Bell, then you'll want to watch these five animated shorts that involve her.
  • 'I'll Try' Music Video (HD, 4 mins) - Jonatha Brooke performs 'I'll Try'.
  • Trailers (HD, 8 mins) - Trailer for upcoming Disney releases.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives.

Final Thoughts

This isn't the worst Disney sequel, but it certainly isn't the best. 'Return to Never Land' should've been made by people who cared for the story and wanted to create a great and engaging project, but instead this was a quick and easy grab for a few extra dollars. The video and audio are good, but not great, and the extras should only impress kids under eight. If you have young kids who love Peter Pan, they might enjoy this, but I suggest renting first, before purchasing.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.66:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, Spanish, French

Supplements

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Pixie Shorts
  • Music Video
  • Trailers

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