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Peter Pan: 65th Anniversary Edition – The Signature Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Disney continues its Signature Collection Blu-ray series by returning to Never Land for the 65th anniversary of Peter Pan. The animated classic from Disney’s golden era has been a beloved classic for many year and probably the staple rendition of the story to many a child and adult. For this new release, Disney is bringing back most of the classic bonus features from previous releases of the film, but is also adding a couple new featurettes for this Signature Collection version. The audio and video presentation will remain the same as before. For those who have missed Diamond Edition five years ago, now is your chance to snag up a copy. And this time you’ll get a digital copy of the film and bonus features to boot. 

Film 

Wendy and her two brothers are amazed when a magical boy named Peter Pan flies into their bedroom, supposedly in pursuit of his rebellious shadow. He and his fairy friend, Tinkerbell, come from a far-off place called Neverland, where children stay perpetually young. Enchanted, the kids follow him back. But when Pan’s nemesis, the pirate Captain Hook, causes trouble, the kids begin to miss their old life.

Like many a Disney tale growing up, be it Robin Hood or Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Peter Pan was THE version of the story to me. But it was also one of the first of the film that I would go on through my youth to see countless different takes on the story. Generally the same, but there was also the Mary Martin stage version that made a comeback in the 1990s for some reason as well as various other ones. Some have been fun, others have been quite dreadful.

Peter Pan works for any age as its a tale that can both land on your nostalgia while at the same time helping you to make that next step or move on in your age. There’s the fantasy of either going back to your youth or staying young forever. Maybe not with Peter Pan and Never Land, but there are other fantasy worlds to which Peter Pan can easily resemble. Then there’s also the fact that Wendy Darling’s story is one of the realization that she has moved on, that yes, its time to grow up a little and seek out the next great adventure in her life. And that’s what’s important. There’s no harm in looking back, or returning to something that once was regular and reliving that glory for a moment, but you do have to wake up and get back to whatever progression your life is taking.

Walt Disney’s take on Peter Pan is still a pretty fun film, but also one of its most iconic. Aside from our title character, Pan’s pal Tinkerbell and villain Captain Hook have probably overreached him in terms of use by the mouse house as well as popularity and familiarity. Many of the lines used in the film are etched in stone somewhere in the words of wisdom from film and such. And lets not forget the score to this movie. Not only are there songs that are Disney all-timers, but some of the main themes you’ll recognize right off the bat and they are used in tons of things and you just don’t realize it until you return to the film.

Peter Pan is one for all ages and like many of the old Disney cartoons, zips by at lightning speed (A 75 minute runtime does help, yes). Some of it may be a little uncomfortable for a modern adult or college kid watching it (The super stereotypical Native American song number), but in all honestly, this is a fantasy land, so you could make an excuse that its not reality. For adventure and fun, its still swashbuckling, funny and whimsical and a good time for the whole family.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Peter Pan’s transfer for his 65th anniversary release is identical to his 60th. Which is a very good thing as its another strong Disney animated image. There is controversy over how much and the lengths Disney goes to restore these films for Blu-ray and DVD, but that’s a whole other conversation. What we have here is a crisp image that reveals great detail like brush strokes, good color and is the best its probably ever looked.

Depth:  While flat, two dimensional hand drawn animation, this image has good room to breathe. Movements are natural to their source and move with good clarity and smoothness.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and natural. Good shading is provided and the outlining adds good definition. I noticed no crushing during this.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are plenty bold and very solid. Its a primary palette, but they do prove strong with lovely looking greens, reds and blues.

Flesh Tones:  N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English Original Theatrical Mix, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  This release features the same audio tracks as provided previously. The 7.1 mix is nice and provides some really nice clarity and looseness to the film. It doesn’t carry a whole lot of oompf as it probably could have, but its restrained sound goes with the feeling of the image you’re looking at I suppose.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Musical blurts in the effects, the music and lots of drums are some of the things that reverberate in the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There is some playfulness to this mix with travel and some intricacies, but this one’s mix mostly hangs out up in front of you.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are very clear and crisp, sounding more modern than they do aged.

Extras 

Peter Pan: 65th Anniversary Edition – The Signature Collection comes with the DVD edition and a digital copy.

Stories From Walt’s Office: Walt & Flight (HD, 4:13) – A brief little background on Walt Disney and his love of flying.

A Darling Conversation With Wendy & John: Kathryn Beaumont And Paul Collins (HD, 8:16) – The two actors sit at a table and talk their experiences with the film while going through old photos. They talk about how they got to physically act out the film while artists drew them, how they still did school work during the shoot and working with Walt Disney. Its a very nice and charming featurette.

“You Can Fly”-Oke (HD, 2:11)

“Never Smile At A Crocodile”-Oke (HD, 1:48)

Classic Bonus

  • Audio Commentary Hosted By Roy Disney
  • Deleted Songs (HD, 7:51)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 10:00)
  • You Can Fly: The Making of Peter Pan (SD, 15:59)
  • Tinker Bell: A Fairy’s Tale (SD, 8:27)
  • The Peter Pan That Almost Was (SD, 21:01) 
  • The Peter Pan Story (SD, 12:04)
  • Growing Up With Nine Old Men (HD, 41:08) 
  • “Never Land”: The Lost Song (SD, 2:39)
  • In Walt’s Words: “Why I Made Peter Pan” (SD, 7:40)
  • Music Video: “Never Land’ Performed By Paige O’Hara (SD, 3:16)
  • Music Video: “The Second Star To The Right” Performed By T-Squad (SD, 1:03) 
  • Song Selection (HD, 7:11)

Summary 

Peter Pan arrives for its 65th anniversary with a pretty solid Blu-ray release. For those who missed it before, this is the time to snag it up as you’ll also gain it digitally as well. Not much separates this release from the previous ones, so if you’ve already got it, unless you’re a super fan you don’t need this. It features a couple new featurettes, some karaoke-ized tunes and the same audio and video as before.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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