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RETURN TO NEVERLAND ($30) is one of those Disney animated sequels that began its journey on the direct-to-video route, but at some point was deemed of superior quality- thus taking a detour on the high road to theatrical release. All and all, this is a rather enjoyable sequel to PETER PAN, with a fun story for the kids and some adult appeal. Of course, the animation isn't quite as polished as Disney's larger budget productions, but it isn't low rent by any means.


The plot of RETURN TO NEVERLAND is set during the WWII era, Wendy has grown up, gotten married and has had children of her own. Wendy's daughter Jane has to live with the realities of London during the blitz and has had maturity beyond her years thrust upon her- leaving her mother's tales of Peter Pan and Neverland to her younger brother. However, just before she and her brother are evacuated from the city with the rest of London's children, Jane finds herself kidnapped by Captain Hook's pirate crew and whisked off to Neverland, where she will be the bait in the old codfish's latest trap for Peter Pan. RETURN TO NEVERLAND features the vocal talents of Harriet Owen, Blayne Weaver, Corey Burton, Jeff Bennett, Kath Soucie, Andrew McDonough, Roger Rees, Dan Castellaneta and Clive Revill.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment has made RETURN TO NEVERLAND available on DVD in a 1.66:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The image is quite nice looking, appearing crisp, bright and colorful- everything an animated program should be. I guess the DVD's THX certification helped guarantee that. The vivid hues of the production are cleanly rendered without noise or smearing. Blacks are quite solid, plus the picture produces pure, stable whites. The dual layered DVD doesn't display any noticeable traces of digital compression artifacts.

RETURN TO NEVERLAND features a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Sound effects are well deployed throughout this animated film, although this isn't the most aggressive mix that I've ever heard on a program of this type. Still, there are some showoff moments, plus the mix does allow effects to move throughout the soundstage in a convincing manner. Dialogue reproduction is perfectly clear, crisp and fully intelligible. The bass channel packs a surprising punch that will give any subwoofer a couple of chances to show its stuff. Music and songs are nicely reproduced with a very good level of fidelity. French and Spanish 5.1 channel tracks have also been encoded onto the DVD, along with English subtitles.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as few extras- that are primarily geared towards the kiddies. Disney Storytime: Neverland's New Hero is a short read-a-long, plus children will also find the Rescue The Lost Boys interactive adventure game on the DVD. More adult extras include two deleted scenes, plus a music video for the song I'll Try by Jonatha Brooke. Closing things out are some sneak peaks for upcoming Disney theatrical and DVD titles.

RETURN TO NEVERLAND will appeal to the kids, as well as those adults with fond memories of PETER PAN from their own childhoods. Disney's DVD looks and sounds really good, making the disc a worthwhile purchase for the young and the young at heart.



Return to Never Land (2002)


DVD reviews are Copyright 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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