Blu-ray Review: PETER PAN - Updated Version of Classic Fairytale Let Down By Lack of Extras

Peter Pan is one of those quintessential fairytales that is known to every generation. Whether you were a child when Disney released their animated classic in 1951, or when Robin Williams€™ adult Pan took on Dustin Hoffman€™s irascible pirate in 1991€™s Hook, it€™s a tale known by all. P.J. Hogan€™s live action version of the story is an exciting adaptation of J. M. Barrie€™s classic novel and today€™s Blu-ray release offers an impressive transfer of the film, but unfortunately little else for viewers. Read on for our review€ In a repressive and stilted Edwardian London and in an attempt to stave off impending adolescence, Wendy Darling (Rachel Hurd-Wood) enchants her brothers with bedtime stories of a land where children who never grow up are the heroes, where swashbuckling pirates roam the seas and the fearsome Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs) is the enemy of all who dwell there. When the mythical Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter), star of Wendy€™s tales, flies into their nursery one night he leads them straight on to an adventure of their own as they fly over a moonlit London to the magically vibrant realms of Neverland. Wendy and her brothers experience Peter and the Lost Boys€™ invigorating lifestyle that€™s free of grown-ups, rules and responsibilities, but eventually become embroiled in the gang€™s ongoing battles with Captain Hook and his crew of bloodthirsty pirates! The highly stylised Neverland of Hogan€™s creation is undeniably the stuff of magical fantasy. The lush imagery is both mystical and breathtaking, which this Blu-ray release captures perfectly. Adding a storybook feel to the film, Hogan€™s Peter Pan is an enchanting update to the classic fairytale that contains all of the popular essentials aficionados of the story have become familiar with: pirates, fairies, Indians, mermaids, enormous crocodiles, castles, caves and caverns, skeletons and treasure€ As a viewer, it€™s easy to submerge yourself entirely into the fictional world of the film here and it really is a wonderful viewing experience precisely because of this. The film also boasts an impressive ensemble cast, with the likes of Richard Briars (as the hilarious Smee) and Lynne Redgrave supporting the cast of young talent. The film, however, truly belongs to Jason Isaacs in the dual roles of Hook and Mr. Darling. His performance as the latter is excellently restrained, displaying the rigidity of the repressive life he is forced to lead, whilst his performance as Hook is deliciously larger than life and inflicts a real sense of menace within the character. The use of Isaacs in both roles is a successful touch, suggesting that no matter what Wendy attempts to do to run away from growing up, she cannot escape the inevitability of it. Rachel Hurd-Wood as Wendy displays a wisdom beyond her years, but rather than appearing precocious or obnoxious she perfectly captures the confusion her character suffers with her transition from childhood to adolescence. Her portrayal of Wendy€™s realisation that Neverland could never be a home away from home is a truly touching moment and perfectly reveals her acceptance of growing up. Next to Isaacs, Hurd-Wood makes this version of Peter Pan a success. Whilst Sumpter captures the essence of Pan, his performance lacks in comparison to those of Isaacs and Hurd-Wood. Having said that, his mischievous characterisation of the eternal boy is a fun element and the chemistry between Pan and Wendy is solid. Hogan€™s re-imagining of the classic tale remains both faithful to the original text, but also instils new elements to the narrative. This approach adds a fresh relevance to the constantly regurgitated story and this certainly is beneficial to the film. Hogan consistently pulls at the audiences€™ heartstrings, encouraging adults to mourn their own loss of childhood innocence and younger viewers to sympathise with the impending fear of the unknown journey into adulthood. Ultimately, it is an engaging family film that should appeal to viewers young and old and let€™s be honest, who wouldn€™t want to indulge in a little bit of childhood fantasy again!?

QUALITY

The upgraded 1080p transfer adds an indulgent depth to Hogan€™s lush imagery and Neverland never looked so good! The HD format is unforgiving when it comes to dated special effects and whilst some of those that are used here are more obvious than viewers would probably like, this doesn€™t detract from the overall artistic nature of the imagery. The impressive tapestry of the full colour spectrum is rich in deep inky blue/blacks and bright, electric primary shades that highlight the magical components of the narrative. The powerfully deep, cavernous sound of the HD 5.1 Master track is equally representative of the mystical aspects of the story and is nicely offset by composer James Newton Howard€™s light and ambient score.

EXTRAS

No special features are included in this release, which is a real shame. The 2004 DVD release included a mass of additional material and it€™s baffling why these pieces haven€™t even found their way onto this one. When will Blu-ray distributors realise the full potential of a single BR disc and finally fill it with extras? Peter Pan is released on Blu-ray from today.
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