RETURN TO NEVER LAND
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
Harriet Owen as JANE
Blayne Weaver as PETER PAN
Corey Burton as CAPTAIN HOOK
Jeff Bennett as SMEE
Kath Soucie as WENDY
Directed by: Robin Budd and Donovan Cook
BY KEVIN CARR
As much as it is a tradition at Disney to make classic animated films for the theaters, it has also become a tradition at Disney to make direct-to-DVD animated sequels. Generally, these are of a lower quality, both in story and design, than the original films. “Return to Never Land” fortunately falls in the category of decent sequel.
The hardest part about making a sequel, especially to something as coherently whole as a classic Disney film, is to actually make a story that works. What seems to be the stand-by at the direct-to-video animation department is the plot about the children of the main characters. “Return to Never Land” continues this tradition.
In this film, Wendy has grown up in the real world, and she has kids of her own. Her oldest, Jane, is the sensible one who plays second-mother to her little brother. When the father is shipped off to war, Jane becomes even more determined to keep things real. And the stories her mother tells of Peter Pan in Never Land don’t help the situation.
However, one day, Captain Hook kidnaps Jane, thinking she’s Wendy. Peter Pan comes to save her and must deal with the daughter that is more difficult than her mother was at the same age. With Hook continuing to pursue, it’s a race to see if they can make Jane the first Lost Girl in the gang.
If this sounds familiar, it is a bit. A similar story was the basis of the Steven Spielberg film “Hook,” only it was Peter’s kids that were kidnapped to lure him back to Never Land. On the cheese factor alone, “Return to Never Land” is a much better film. It’s more self-contained and just tells the story without the big-budget extravaganza.
As Disney sequels go, “Return to Never Land” works. It’s not groundbreaking, but kids who enjoyed the original “Peter Pan” should welcome a trip back to Never Land to spend some more time with the characters.
The DVD comes with scant features, including a not-so-obvious plug for the resurrected CGI “Tinker Bell” film as well as a set-top game that flies the viewer through the skies of London.