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(Diamond Edition)

I have always been very fond of the Disney version of the J.M. Barrie classic about the boy who refused to grow up. However, my fondness isn't so much for the title character, but instead, for the comic depiction of the villainous Captain Hook and for the alarm clock ticking Crocodile that continually dogs his every step- with the later looking for second helpings of the one handed pirate. My personal fondness for Disney’s PETER PAN ($45) owes much to the vocal performance of Hans Conried, who portrayed Captain James Hook with tremendous dastardly bluster and exquisite comic aplomb. In addition to Conried, I also take immense enjoyment from Bill Thompson's interpretation of Mr. Smee- the best known member of Captain Hook’s pirate crew.

The plot of PETER PAN first takes us to the London household of the Darling family, where we encounter young Wendy Darling, her two brothers John and Michael, not to mention her parents and family dog Nana, who also substitutes as the children’s nanny. Tales of Peter Pan, the Lost Boy and Never Land are a regular staple in the Darling Nursery, which keep the children enthralled. So, when Peter Pan and Tinkerbell come to the Darling home to reclaim the title character’s captured shadow, it should come as no surprise the Peter sprinkles a little pixie dust on Wendy and her brothers, and whisks the lot of them off to Never Land for a series of adventures involving mermaids, Indians and pirates- but most especially, Peter’s arch nemesis- Captain Hook. The vocal talent behind PETER PAN also features Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Heather Angel, Paul Collins, Tommy Luske, Candy Candido and Tom Conway.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made PETER PAN available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation for PETER PAN is another supremely gorgeous Blu-ray rending of a Disney masterpiece from the vaults. Like their other animated masterpieces released on Blu-ray, Disney has digitally rejuvenated PETER PAN, taking the image so far back in time, that it more resembles the original hand painted 2D animation cels, than it does a 1953 release print of the film. Very little actual film grain remains in the image, making PETER PAN appear pristine beyond pristine; however, the animation doesn’t appear diminished in any way. Image sharpness and detail offer absolutely everything one would expect to find in painted animation cels, as well as the painted backgrounds. Gorgeous pastels, plus bright primary and secondary colors appear in beautifully saturated fashion, displaying a splendiferous IB Technicolor quality that never appears digitally over-sweetened or cloying. Blacks are perfectly deep and inky, while the whites are crisp and completely stable. Contrast is flawless.

PETER PAN is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. For a film that is six decades old, Disney has done a wonderful job of re-mastering and re-purposing the originally monaural sound to the modern, multi-channel home theater world. With the music and sound effects, the stereo and surround imaging offers a fairly engaging quality, but never seems overly forced or artificial. The sonics are never taken beyond the limits of the original materials, only enhanced in the best ways possible. Despite the lossless encoding, the music is limited by age and the recording technologies of the early 1950's. Still, the music has more depth and character than I would normally expect. The soundtrack has been digitally cleaned to remove all signs of age and sonic limitations inherent in older analogue recordings. Dialogue is clean and easy to understand; plus voices, like that of Hans Conried, have a wonderful sense of presence. Albeit thin, a cleaned up version of the film’s original theatrical monaural soundtrack is also present on this release, as are French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Starting things off is a brief Introduction By Diane Disney Miller. A Disney View mode is also included, which replaces the black bars on the sides of the image with related artwork. Next up is a running Audio Commentary hosted by Roy Disney and features Leonard Maltin, along with edited together interview comments from members of the cast and creative team. A Disney Sing Along feature offers lyrics to the movie's songs for anyone interested in PETER PAN karaoke. PETER PAN also contains a Disney Intermission feature that offers Pirate Training for the little ones any time the main feature is paused. Growing Up With Nine Old Men is a forty one minute program that looks back at Disney's original and most famous animation team from the perspective of their children. Deleted Songs And Scenes (two each) are recreated from original storyboards, concept art and rough animation. We also get Music Videos: Neverland is performed by Paige O'Hara; while The Second Star To The Right is performed by T-Squad.

Classic Backstage Disney DVD Features replicate content from the previous DVD release and include the following programs: You Can Fly: The Making Of Peter Pan clocks in at sixteen minutes and proves to be a rather informative look at the production and the material’s origins. In Walt's Own Words accesses archival material in which Disney explains "Why I Made Peter Pan." The Peter Pan That Almost Was looks at various story concepts that did not make it to the completed film. Tinkerbell: A Fairy's Tale looks at the film character, who has since become one of the most recognizable Disney icons. The Peter Pan Story is a vintage featurette created at the time of the film production. Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are still on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray, while disc three contains a Digital Copy.

PETER PAN remains a true Disney Masterpiece that has been gorgeously rendered in high definition. Absolutely recommended.


Peter Pan (Three-Disc Diamond Edition: Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy + Storybook App) (1953)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2013 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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