The classic tale that taught us all "to believe" and first introduced us to the Darling children - Wendy, John and Michael - as they flew with Peter Pan and Tinker Bell past the second star to the right and straight on 'till morning to the enchanted world of Never Land. Rediscover the magical adventure and relive childhood memories of this great bedtime story.
Disney’s Peter Pan comes to Blu-ray, presented in its original aspect ratio of about 1.33:1 on the first dual-layer disc of this three-disc set. The high-definition transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz.
Again I’m guessing Disney took the same high-def transfer used for their previous DVD edition and touched it up for Blu-ray. Similar to other titles from Disney film grain has been completely scrubbed away so it doesn’t have a genuinely filmic look, and feels to be something generated on a computer. I get why Disney does this with their animated features (they’re more than likely keeping younger viewers in mind) and as long as there aren’t any artifacts or issues present because of it I’m usually not all that concerned about it. Unfortunately the image comes off a bit soft here; a bit of a surprise since most of Disney’s animated films always come off sharp. It’s not horrible, and details come through pretty well in backgrounds, but there is just this hint of a haze around everything. It’s hard to tell if it’s the byproduct of digital meddling or an issue with the source print.
The source is otherwise in excellent shape and there are no flaws to speak of. As usual Disney’s clean-up job is impressive. Colours look to be boosted a bit but there’s no bleeding or blooming, and black levels are fairly rich while keeping details in place.
It’s about what I expected from Disney, though it certainly isn’t their best effort. Still, it looks good and will please most of its audience.
Disney again upgrades the audio track to 7.1 surround with a new lossless DTS-HD audio track. Like other similar tracks it’s not especially impressive, still limited to the fronts. Music and effects make their way to the rears but at times it can feel forced. The most forced scene may be the scene in a cave where the echo unnaturally moves from the fronts to the rears and back again. It’s odd but thankfully probably the only sequence that calls attention to itself. The rest of the track makes more subtle use of the surrounds.
In terms of quality, though, the track is clean, delivering sharp dialogue and music. It’s crisp and delivers exceptional range.
Thankfully Disney is a company that keeps the cinephile in mind (for the most part) and also includes the film’s original theatrical track. Presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 mono it also delivers a fairly sharp presentation, though is admittedly a bit more flat and less dynamic than the surround track. But it at least doesn’t have any artificially added tricks in the track.
Disney carries over the supplements from their previous Platinum Edition DVD and adds on some new features, with the new features all presented in high-definition. Despite some interesting material we get a fairly mediocre line-up.
Firstly the film has some playing options. You can either simply play the film or play the film with an introduction by Diane Disney Miller. She also introduces some of the other Diamond Edition titles released by Disney but ultimately this one, like the others, is really just an ad for the Walt Disney Family Museum. The intro runs over a minute.
Two more options are also offered: Disney View fills in the black bars on the side of the screen with various artwork appropriate to what is playing on screen. I’m guessing this is for children annoyed by the black bars on the side (my daughter has never really cared.) There’s also an option to sing-along with the movie but this is simply just a subtitle presentation that shows the lyrics to the songs as they come up in the film.
Every Diamond Edition release I’ve come across has a feature about Disney’s Nine Old Men, his group of animators, and this one is no different. Newly made for this release is the 41-minute documentary Growing Up with the Nine Old Men, hosted by Ted Thomas, son of animator Frank Thomas. Here he visits the children of the other animators and they share stories about their fathers and their work. It’s a little sentimental and at times can feel a little artificial (I blame this more on the editing of the piece than anything else as all of the participants seem genuine themselves) but I found it could be particularly fascinating when they share the artwork of their fathers that weren’t necessarily Disney related. Some interesting material to be found, but it’s definitely a Disney product.
Other features found in the section devoted to the old DVD features do touch on this next feature somewhat, but this Blu-ray some deleted scenes in more detaiul. Presented through storyboards (and off voice acting) we get to see the original ending concept, which was a bit extended, delving into the film’s themes of childhood a bit more (it also includes a short situation involving a cloud that forms into a dragon.) There is also an alternate arrival to Never Land where the Lost Boys are introduced a little differently and Hook makes an early appearance. Also here are some deleted songs. Never Smile at a Crocodile is a song that actually did get released but it never showed up in the film. Here it’s presented over concept art of the crocodile. There’s also The Boatswain song, which was an alternate song for the pirates to sing. It comes from an old demo and sounds a bit rough. It plays over concept art of the pirates and the ship. Altogether the material runs 15-minutes.
We then move on to the Classic DVD Features, starting with a Disney Song Selection. This is basically a compilation of all the musical scenes in the film with the option to play all or to play one by one. In all it runs under 7-minutes.
Roy Disney’s audio commentary is also carried over from the DVD. It’s a bit stale because the man is obviously reading from a script of sorts, but the track mixes in interviews with others that worked on the film making it a bit of an easier piece to get through. There aren’t any juicy details to speak of of course but it offers a fairly concise look at the creation of the film. Some may want to simply go through the other features on the disc, though.
Classic Music and More is a section that contains more information about music around the film. There is “The Pirate Song”, which is another song that was to be sung by the pirates. There’s also a short piece called Never Land: The Lost Song a song by Richard M. Sherman, which is also performed by Paige O’Hara in another feature (with an awful video to go with it.) There’s then a horrific teeny-bopper music video for The Second Star to the Left performed by T-Squad. I can think of no earthly reason as to why this exists.
Classic Backstage Disney gets into the more nitty-gritty details on the making of the film, starting with You Can Fly: The Making of Peter Pan. It’s surprisingly short, only 16-minutes, but covers the history of the original story and the eventual production of the animated film, even touching on other versions of the story, whether it be play or film. Though mainly hosted by film critic Leonard Maltin it also features interviews with then-surviving animators who talk about their respective responsibilities. There’s also an interesting section on the reference models used by the animators, complete with photos. It’s very short but I actually found it a rather interesting feature, particularly the lengthy section on the reference models, who acted out the script for the animators in costume.
In Walt’s Words: Why I Made Peter Pan is an 8-minute abridged “dramatic recreation” (their words, not mine) of Walt’s article in a magazine about why he made the film. It’s basically a voice actor reading the letter, where Walt talks about his memories of the story as a child and then recalling the making of the film. It’s a fine addition but not a necessary one.
Tinker Bell: A Fairy’s Tale is an 8-and-a-half minute feature on the famous fairy, who Disney has been marketing heavily lately. Though I think it’s an ad for what was then a new Tinker Bell movie going straight-to-video it’s actually not an all bad look at the character and her appearances over the years (skipping Julia Roberts’ turn in Hook naturally.) It also has an interview with the reference model for the character, Margaret Kerry. Their attempt at presenting Tink as an early feminist character is stretching it a bit (she may be a free thinker but she has plenty of stereotypes) but I surprisingly enjoyed this feature mostly.
The Peter Pan That Almost Was is a 21-minute feature that goes through old concept art and storyboards presenting a different version of the film, including a much darker tone: Peter Pan actually went to kidnap Wendy, and there’s a much darker scene in Skull Rock. Apparently Tinker Bell and the pixies also became heavily involved in the fight sequence at the end. I’m actually disappointed the alternate cave sequence wasn’t used but I can sort of see why Disney ultimately went another route.
The section then concludes with The Peter Pan Story, a fascinating, if ultimately useless archive television feature that I assume was aired just as the film was released theatrically. It starts with an awfully pretentious opening about storytelling and attempts to trace a history from prehistoric man to Shakespeare to Disney (naturally!) It’s not terribly good and very heavy-handed at times, but is a fascinating archival piece despite its problems.
This then pretty much closes off the supplements, other than a video about Digital Copies. The disc also presents something called Disney Intermission: When paused various animations come up with an assortment of non-interactive games. You can actually also pause this intermission if you so wish. To return to the film you must push “Enter” on your remote. You can also turn this feature off in the “Set-Up” menu if you’re not fond of it. I actually don’t know if I really understand the purpose as the only time my daughter pauses a film is when she actually wants/needs to step away.
This three-disc set also includes a DVD copy of the film, which presents a standard definition presentation of the film along with the Disney Miller intro and the Tinker Bell supplement. The third disc is a DVD holding a digital copy of the film (there is also a two-disc set missing the digital copy for those that are not concerned with it.) Disney also includes a code in the insert which can be used to download a free copy of the Peter Pan Storybook App from the iTunes store. Since I do not own an iPod Touch or an iPad, and my wife won’t let me come near her iPhone (not sure why,) I wasn’t able to look at this.
This ultimately closes the supplements. It actually may be the smallest set of supplements I’ve come across on a Diamond Edition and sadly much of it doesn’t really stick out.
It’s an underwhelming release overall. The supplements are slim and weak, with only some mildly interesting material to be found across them and the audio and video presentations leave a little to be desired. Easily the weakest Disney release of a classic animated film I’ve come across yet.