Peter Pan: Diamond Edition (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronomi, Wilfred Jackson
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 77 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English; Dolby Digital 1.0 English, 5.1 French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 44.99
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Review Date: January 23, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!