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Blu-ray Review Peter Pan: Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    XenForo Template Can there be anyone who isn’t familiar with James M. Barrie’s classic tale of the boy who wouldn’t grow up? Beginning as a stage play in 1904, Peter Pan has been staged and restaged, with incidental music and entire musical scores, on stage, on television, and on film for over a century. There have been films about its creation (the marvelous and highly recommended Finding Neverland), a sensational book tracing the life of this most durable of stories (The Peter Pan Chronicles by Bruce K. Hanson), and sequels and reimaginings of the story that have kept a steady stream of royalties flowing into the coffers of the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London as per Barrie’s will. After years of planning and failed attempts to get it off the ground, in 1953 after more than four years of work, Walt Disney presented his animated musical version of the celebrated story. It has seldom been out of the world’s hearts and minds since its initial release.

    Peter Pan: Diamond Edition (Blu-ray Combo Pack) Directed by Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronomi, Wilfred Jackson Studio: Disney Year: 1953 Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 1080p AVC codec Running Time: 77 minutes Rating: G Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English; Dolby Digital 1.0 English, 5.1 French, Spanish Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish

    Region: A-B-C MSRP: $ 44.99

    Release Date: February 5, 2013

    Review Date: January 23, 2013

    The Film

    4.5/5 On her last night in the nursery of her parents’ London home, Wendy Darling (Kathryn Beaumont) is visited by a flying boy from Never Land named Peter Pan (Bobby Driscoll). Searching for his shadow which had been grabbed by the family dog Nana as he eavesdropped one night listening to Wendy tell her younger brothers bedtime stories, Peter offers to take Wendy back to Never Land with him to be a mother to him and the Lost Boys who live there never growing up and devoting their entire lives to adventuring. Wendy agrees to go if her brothers can come along and if Peter understands that the visit will not be a permanent one. The adventures the Darling children have after flying off to Never Land involve a band of pirates and a tribe of Indians, each of whom have reasons for wanting to capture them. The pirates are led by the despicable Captain Hook (Hans Conried), his hand having been cut off by Peter Pan years before and fed to a crocodile who ever since has been on the lookout for more of Hook to consume. Hook’s constant plots against his enemy Pan give the story its suspense and excitement. There can’t be a man, woman, or child who wouldn’t find it all irresistible. As usual with Disney’s classic animation, the voice cast chosen to enact these iconic roles did them proud. Though some quibbled that Peter was Americanized by using Bobby Driscoll as his voice, the young actor’s brio easily erases any objections one might have. He makes Peter a fun-loving scamp who lives life on the edge and wouldn’t have it any other way. Hans Conried is the perfect Hook (and Mr. Darling): oily, conniving, and just fey enough to be funny without overdoing it. Bill Thompson is a delightfully befuddled Smee, and Kathryn Beaumont is a lovely Wendy with her dreamy qualities enlivened by an authoritative backbone, and her singing voice is much improved from her attempts in the previous Alice in Wonderland. Disney used a battery of composers and lyricists to come up with a winning score for this film, and the animators use the musical moments to really outdo themselves, particularly with “You Can Fly,” Peter’s lessons on personal aviation which build eventually to a wonderful chorus taking over the singing as the quartet of kids (and Tinker Bell the prickly fairy) soar out the window and high over London in one of the most breathtaking multiplane camera shots ever achieved by a company famous for them. Other visual moments to treasure: a bird’s eye view of Never Land from a cloud and Peter’s rescue of captured Indian princess Tiger Lily from Hook’s clutches in the shadowy cove of Skull Rock. While Peter Pan doesn’t quite have the kaleidoscopic arrays of colors and character designs that Disney’s previous animated feature Alice in Wonderland contained, on its own the animation is strong, bold, and very impressive, and the film was a box-office smash in its initial release and in all its subsequent theatrical reissues. On video, the title has always been a strong seller for the company, and this release should be no different.

    Video Quality

    5/5 The film’s original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 is represented faithfully on this new release and presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. It’s a very strong high definition presentation with rich, bold colors, superb depth, and a rock solid image throughout. The lines are solid without any aliasing, and there is no banding to be seen in backgrounds. While the colors don’t sparkle to the same extent that they do in, say, Pinocchio or Alice in Wonderland, they’re never oversaturated to the point of bleeding. The colors in Never Land are brighter than in the London sequences, and the pirates’ clothes are awash in color. Flesh tones (apart from the Indians) retain the pinker palette that was used in the 2007 Platinum Edition DVD release while the Indians are redder than they were before.  The film has been divided into 31 chapters.

    Audio Quality

    4.5/5 The disc offers two English audio options. The Dolby Digital 1.0 original theatrical track is here for purists, but it’s a low bitrate encode that doesn’t do the movie any favors though it’s clean and clear of hiss or other age-related artifacts. Much more exhilarating is the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix. This new encode is much fuller with more music being sent to the surrounds and with some actual bass added which gives the soundtrack a more immersive quality. While there’s no disguising the film’s mono origins or the fact that the surrounds are silent for portions of the film, there are some ingenious uses of the surround sound fields in the Skull Rock sequence where Pan’s voice echoes directionally to great effect. The voices are all expertly mixed so the music doesn’t overwhelm them and are usually found in the center channel.

    Special Features

    4.5/5 The introduction to the film is by Diane Disney Miller, and it lasts 1 ¼ minutes in 1080p. The film may be viewed with black pillarbox bars framing the movie or the viewer may choose DisneyView which throws art panels up on either side of the 1.33:1 frame painted by Cristy Maltese. The viewer may also turn on Disney Sing Along which will put lyrics up on the screen to sing along during the musical numbers in the movie. There is a superb running commentary hosted by Roy Disney. In this excellent track, a number of the film’s participants among the actors and animators talk about their work on the film, and they’re joined by critics who add their opinions and information on this timeless classic. Disney Intermission is included with this release. When the pause button is pressed, instructions on how to become a pirate are offered until the movie is begun again. “Growing Up with Nine Old Men” is a new featurette. Hosted by Frank Thomas’ son Ted, he makes the trek around the southwestern part of the country to visit with children of seven of Disney’s “nine old men” and reminisce about their fathers and the work they did for the studio and their lives away from work. This runs 41 ¼ minutes and is by far the most interesting of the new features on this release. It’s in 1080p. There are two deleted scenes shown in storyboard form, “The Journey Home” runs 4 ¾ minutes and includes an adventure the group has on the journey back to London. An alternate scene of Peter and company’s arrival back to Never Land runs 5 ¼ minutes. Both are in 1080p. There are two deleted songs offered in brief snippets. The original lyrics penned for “Never Smile at a Crocodile” are sung by Henry Calvin in a 2 ¼-minute excerpt. “The Boatswain’s Song” with an unknown singer runs 3 ¼ minutes. The viewer may choose five of the movie’s songs to sing along to excerpted from the film itself in 1080p in this bonus feature. The following are bonus features from previous DVD releases and are all in 480i. In the Music Vault section of the disc, the complete recording of the cut “The Pirate Song” (it’s excerpted in the “You Can Fly” featurette) with accompanying storyboards. Composer Richard Sherman set a discarded lyric sheet for the song “Never Land” to music, and then we get actress Paige O’Hara’s music video for the completed work. There’s also a fairly inconsequential T-Squad hip-hop version of the lovely “The Second Star to the Right” which renders the song almost unrecognizable. The Vault Disney documentary section contains the following featurettes: “You Can Fly” is a 16-minute documentary on the film first done for a laserdisc edition. It’s a very good but awfully compact look at the film’s sixteen-year journey to the screen. “In Walt’s Words: Why I Made Peter Pan reconstructs Disney’s reasons for making the film and his personal connection to the play and his animated version. It runs 7 ¾ minutes. “Tinker Bell: A Fairy’s Tale” is an 8 ½-minute history of how Tinker Bell has been represented on stage and screen over the years. We visit with actress Margaret Kerry who was the live action model for the animators on Disney’s version. “The Peter Pan That Almost Was” is a 21-minute featurette detailing the initial story ideas for bringing the play to the screen that involved such unusual ideas as beginning the story in Never Land, taking Nana back to Never Land with the children, and leaving John behind in London as they set off on their adventures, all of this with accompanying storyboards bringing a visual sense to these creative thoughts. We also get to see some footage from the 1925 silent live action version of Peter Pan which makes one long all the more to see that entire production. “The Peter Pan Story,” a black and white 1952 featurette on the making of the film, is also repeated in this edition looking none the worse for wear and running 12 minutes. The disc contains promo trailers for Wreck-It Ralph, The Little Mermaid 3D, and Monsters University. The second disc in the set is a DVD copy of the movie. The third disc in the set is the digital copy of the movie.

    In Conclusion

    4.5/5 (not an average) One of Disney’s most cherished animated classics, Peter Pan holds a special place in the hearts of many film lovers. This new Blu-ray edition features a polished video and audio presentation and many worthy, interesting bonus features. Highly recommended! Matt Hough Charlotte, NC

     
  2. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Screenwriter
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    One thing I've always loved about this movie was the combination of music and animation for the croc's theme. To this day, it still cracks me up!
    During my years at Cinekyd while growing up back east, Cinekyd would schedule a "Disney" night once a quarter as part of their Saturday Movie Night program. The founder owned a 16mm print of Peter Pan, and whenever someone would forget to schedule a Disney film, we would wind up showing Peter Pan. Disney had a strict rule that, although many of their classics were available to repertory houses and educational institutions, you could not advertise the name of the film you were showing. At one point, I think we ended up screening Peter Pan so often that people would call in and ask if we were not showing Peter Pan.
     
  3. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    Thanks for the great review Matt. Love this film, but I'll be waiting until the price drops to the $20 range before adding it to my collection.
     
  4. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    Right now, my Amazon preorder is at $24.05, including tax ($21.96 without). I'm assuming that's going down a few more dollars once release week hits to match BB and Target.
     
  5. SD_Brian

    SD_Brian Supporting Actor

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    The silent version is available on DVD from Kino. I had the opportunity to see it with live organ accompaniment at an outdoor screening at San Diego's Balboa Park in 2011. It was a great experience!
     
  6. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Yes!

    Thanks for the review Matt...as always.
     
  7. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    Well, it's $29.96 for everyone else right now.
     
  8. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    Understood. When Ron put up the initial link, there was an $8 coupon, which dropped the price. It always pays to pre-order and then cancel rather than wait.
    After seeing pieces of the movie at Disney, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the disc.
     
  9. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    Indeed.
     
  10. Escapay

    Escapay Stunt Coordinator

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    Great review, Matt. Peter Pan has always been one of my favorites, I'm glad to see it's presented on Blu-Ray in such excellent quality. And I'm really glad to see the original mono track is still intact. The press release didn't list it among the specifications, which had me worried. A rather inconsequential thing, but I'm rather glad that Disney's no longer using the ridiculous "Classic DVD Features" moniker for older supplements. "Music Vault" and "Vault Disney" sound better, especially the latter. It's too bad they couldn't include more new extras beyond the ones listed (I really want to see the "Growing Up..." documentary). I certainly wouldn't mind losing the "You Can Fly" documentary from 1998 in favor of a new piece that's longer and more in depth. And I'm still surprised that Disney won't bother to include 1951's "The Walt Disney Christmas Show" given that it featured the voice cast dressed in character as Peter Pan and the Darling children. That's definitely more relevant to the film than the abysmal T-Squad music video. Overall, this looks like a very solid disc, and I look forward to picking this up in February.
     
  11. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Oops. They ARE still using the "Classic DVD Features" title in the menu. Those titles were kind of my own interpretation of the subdivisions within that all-purpose title.
     
  12. Escapay

    Escapay Stunt Coordinator

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    Haha, aw man. You raised my hopes up, and now have dashed them all away. I'd rather Disney have used your titles. I take it, then, that they're listed in that order under the all-purpose "Classic DVD Features" title? Or does it actually divide into something like "Classic DVD Features" and "Classic Backstage Disney" (which I think is what the Cinderella Blu-Ray did)?
     
  13. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Once you go into Classic DVD Features, then you get the breakdown into vault music and vault documentaries along with the commentary.
     
  14. Escapay

    Escapay Stunt Coordinator

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    Awesome, thanks!
     
  15. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter

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    I really love this film, but, good lord! The prices that Disney charges for their films are way-too-high. If they still had the breadth and depth of supplements that the original DVD releases of SNOW WHITE and FANTASIA had, I'd gladly pay $30 or more. These days, they seem to slap on some old DVD features and a new music video by whatever talentless teeny bopper group they're currently pushing and consider that "special". I'm going to hold off until I find it on sale. Glad to hear that it looks nice, though.
     
  16. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    Ten bucks says retail price will be right around $19.99 on release week. Look, we have the same conversations in the Trek announcement/review threads. The same thing applies here as does there: Paramount/CBS know they can charge a premium for Trek. Disney knows it can do the same with most of their titles. If you want it before the copies are back in the vault, you're going to get it and make sure to monitor the price from the day it's announced. I have no problem spending a little more on things like Trek and Disney because they will be in the collection until the day I die.
     
  17. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    I had the opportunity to sit this morning and watch an advanced
    Blu-ray copy of Peter Pan.
    I also have read the comments by Robert Harris as well as the
    review that Matt Hough posted in this very thread.
    By now, I don't think there needs to be an additional full-blown
    review posted on this forum about the digital cleanup that has
    been done to this film.
    However, I do think that there is always room for yet another
    voice to talk about just how fantastic Peter Pan looks (and
    sounds) on Blu-ray.
    [​IMG]
    Sometimes I don't think there is enough credit given to the folks
    at Disney. When polling HTF members this year about which studio
    consistently puts out quality product, Disney didn't even make the
    final five. Yet, as someone who has been looking at quite of bit of
    Disney Blu-ray releases over the past two years, In my eyes, they
    are one of the few studios that really care about the preservation of
    their film library. I am particularly in awe of how much care they put
    into their 3D Blu-ray releases, which to this day remain among the
    best in the marketplace.
    [​IMG]
    ....which brings me back to Peter Pan. Watching this film this
    morning, savoring the flawless transfer before me, only reminded
    me that the studio won't settle for mediocracy in their end product.
    Peter Pan doesn't look like a 60 year-old film. In fact, it doesn't look
    like it has aged a single day.
    In October, members who attended our HTF meet had the chance
    to visit with the Disney animation team who gave us an early peek
    at the work they had done on this film. They also talked about the
    challenges they faced in bringing the film to high-def resolution, particularly
    in dealing with some of the limited detail in some of the original animation.
    It's these little things that that the animators look closely at, and then
    decide how to correct it (if at all) without compromising the film itself.
    [​IMG]
    As Matt has pointed out in his review, this film doesn't explode
    with colors as other Disney films do. However, it's hard not to marvel
    at the rock-solid, well-detailed image (with impressively deep black
    levels) you see before you. Add a very effective surround track that
    brings the film's music score (and ambient effects) to the rears, and
    Peter Pan becomes a brand-new viewing experience. It's so wild for
    me to think that today's viewers have the opportunity to view a Peter
    Pan that looks and sounds better than audiences did in 1953.
    This Blu-ray is certainly a cause for celebration.
    * screen captures taken directly from Blu-ray disc. Click on them for larger images.
     
  18. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    Limited animation detail? In what way I wonder? The guys and gals that made these films forgot more about animation and backgrounds than any of these new guys will ever know.
     
  19. Adam Sanchez

    Adam Sanchez Supporting Actor

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    I have been wondering something for awhile now. Is the content of Disney's 2 disc and 3 disc diamond editions the same, other than one having a digital copy and one not? I have never been able to find a clear answer to this question. I have no need of digital copies and am glad Disney is finally making a version without them...as long as nothing else, like special features, is missing. Could someone confirm for me?
     
  20. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    Yes. While some studios are packaging the DVD and Digital Copy on the same disc, Disney continues to use a separate disc for Digital Copy. The only possible exception is Pixar titles. I believe, in some instances, the Blu-ray + DVD packs omit the special features disc, although I'm happy to be proven wrong.
     

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