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Return To Neverland
picture from Return To Neverland 8 out of 108 out of 108 out of 108 out of 108 out of 10
Rated: G
Read my review
Current Voter Rating: 6.902 (307 votes)
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Just as Return To Neverland begins, we are treated to an elaborated version of Disney's trademark opening segment as Tinkerbell lights up Cinderella's castle. I then realized how much Peter Pan is a part of Disney's motion-picture roots, just as are Cinderella, Snow White, and Pinnochio. Now, after Disney itself has branched out into so many areas including not only movies but theme parks, merchandising, and television networks, we find an investment in where they first began long ago. I found as I watched this long-awaited sequel that I can really appreciate this Return To Neverland on many different levels.

As a fan of the original Peter Pan, I was anxious to see a continuation of this happily familiar story. Getting to see all of the old faces again was a real treat akin to catching up with old friends at a wedding or a reunion. And, of course, Peter Pan and the Lost Boys look just the same as always because they magically never grow up. As for Tinkerbell, Captain Hook, Smee, and the rest of the dreaded pirates, they haven't changed too much either. Who has changed, however, is Wendy. She is now all grown up. And what's more, she is a wife and a mother of two.

Wendy finds herself raising her children amidst a World War where raining bombs are destroying the neighborhoods in London. Wendy's oldest daughter, Jane, finds that she must grow up quickly and put the silliness and nonsense of childhood (and her mother's impossible stories of Peter Pan) behind her. She must do this to protect herself and her family (their father has gone off to join the British Army). Wendy, however, finds comfort in the telling of the stories of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, and her youngest son relishes them.

picture from Return To Neverland

Meanwhile, Captain Hook, whose ship has been coated in pixie dust, ventures out into London in search of Wendy, whom he wants to capture as bait for Peter Pan. Little does he know, however, that Wendy is grown, and he winds up capturing her independent and strong-willed daughter, Jane.

Jane is taken back to Neverland, and she finds that she must not only accept her mother's stories as the truth, but must also embrace her youthful idealism in order to fly. In particular, she needs "faith, trust, and pixie dust." These words are echoed throughout the film in a song by Jonatha Brooke. As an aside and speaking of the music, although I enjoyed the lyrics and music of the songs in this film, they stuck out to me like a sore thumb in that they did not fit the time period but rather they were quite modern sounding with an alternative feel. Musically, it just seemed somewhat inappropriate.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the real treats for me was in seeing the familiar characters return to action. Peter Pan was a childhood hero of mine. I remember vividly wanting to be Peter Pan. I remember dreaming that I could fly. I also remember looking him up in the Encyclopedia and scoffing at the obvious fact that it was written by a boring and unbelieving grown-up.

Over the years I have also found much humor and pleasure in watching Captain Hook. He is definitely my favorite villain of Disney lore. His grace and charm which veil both his ruthlessness and his cowardice are always interesting to see. But most of all, he is funny. In Return to Neverland, Captain Hook and his bumbling mate Smee, are as hilarious as ever. In Hook and Smee this movie really scores big.

picture from Return To Neverland

However, I found the true treasure chest to be hidden in the movie's main theme. As a child wanting to be Peter Pan, I did not want to grow up. And unfortunately life denied me of this childhood wish, as it has or will for all of us. I now find myself wishing the same for my daughter, not wanting her to grow up and hoping that the magic of her childhood will last forever. Watching this movie together with her, I soon caught on to the parallels between two main characters and ourselves. I found that I could best identify with Wendy (although not in gender related issues, to be sure). Wendy and I both witnessed the magic of Peter Pan and of youth and its imaginative fantasies and dreams, and we have both since grown up. My daughter and Jane are both young and growing up fast. While it may be an unavoidable fate to mature and to grow old, this film taught me a great lesson. Wendy showed that although she has grown up that she has never lost her idealism and imagination...her faith and trust...even in the midst of the terrors of war. And, as I look deep within myself, it is a comfort, a relief, and a joy to discover that the same is true of me.

One final and perhaps insignificant note: This movie is actually pretty short (running time = 72 minutes) though it seems complete in its plot and resolution. To compensate for this, we were treated with a short cartoon clip from back in the day featuring Pluto. This was also neat to see on the big screen and takes you back to long before I was even born when movie theaters often featured short cartoon clips for the kids.

thumbs up!You never know what you'll find when dealing with pirates, and treasure, and a heroic boy who can fly.

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So far, the average rating for Return To Neverland is: 6.902 (307 votes)

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