Region 2 (UK) Edition
Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Sumpter, Lynn Redgrave, Richard Briers
Hogan's $100m adaptation of J.M.Barrie's apparently
timeless classic is surprisingly close to the source material, and
arguably more faithful to it than any previous screen version. Disney's foppish
Captain Hook might have sent frissons of fear through generations of kids
since 1953, but Jason Isaac's Hook is the first one who'd fillet you
without a qualm. For all it's chocolate-box trappings, this is a darker
Peter Pan than we're used to, one that's not afraid to tap into the
story's deeper undercurrents, and one that's all the better for it.
The film benefits enormously from
state-of-the-art special effects techniques, which bring unheralded
sophistication to the story's fantasy elements, but the film is
constricted by its studio-bound sets.
If any single thing pole-axes the film it's Jeremy Sumpter as Peter
Pan. His un-tempered American accent seems completely at odds
with the character of Pan, and with the general tone of the film. It's a
shame that this one aspect rankles, because otherwise his
performance - sly, mischievous and playful - is hard to fault. The other
actors suit admirably: Rachel Hurd-Wood gives a remarkably mature
performance as Wendy, which is the story's most demanding role, and
there's fine support from Swimming Pool nymphet Ludivine Sagnier as
the most spirited Tinkerbell the screen has ever seen. Jason Isaacs has
the plum role of Captain Hook, and is commendably restrained.
Universal's Region 2 DVD presents the film
in 2.4:1 ratio, with anamorphic enhancement. The
film can be broadly divided into two sections. The first is the 'real'
world of the Darling family, where the interiors have a
warm, fire-lit, homely feeling, and the exteriors have a cold, steely-blue hue. The
fantasy environs of Neverland, though, are ablaze with rich colours. Once
Wendy and her brothers reach the island it seems like there's barely a shot in
the film that isn't bathed in coloured light. The DVD replicates this very
nicely. Apparent detail levels are high, without excessive artificial
edge-enhancement, and there are practically no instances of dirt or other
unpleasant artefacts. There are no player-generated captions in the film. The
average bitrate is 6.69Mb/s, rarely dipping below 5Mb/s.
The film has English subtitles, as do the
The layer change (at 76'12" into the film)
isn't ideally handled, but isn't terribly disruptive.
The disc offers a choice of Dolby Digital
5.1 (at 448kbps) and DTS audio (at 754kbps). Rather confusingly these are
accessed through the Languages menu. Audio channels can't be
switched on the fly. The DTS track is rousing, with plenty of audio
directed to the surrounds (most notably the haunting ticking of the
crocodile), and some nice low-frequency
rumble. Dialogue is clear and well integrated into the mix. The Dolby
Digital track seems marginally less powerful, but is just as lively.
There's no mention of censorship cuts at the BBFC's
website, but there's a shot of a head-butt, at 48'17", that looks rather
suspicious. It's possible that the sound of the impact may have been toned
The disc starts with the usual copyright
notices, and then a "Summer 2004" trailer for Universal's forthcoming Thunderbirds movie. (For
the record, this is the trailer without Lady Penelope and
Parker). This is easily skipped, leading to easy-to-navigate menus,
with animated interstitials.
The disc's bonus features are broken down
into five groups, themed by location: Pirates' Ship, The Black Castle,
The Darling House, The Neverland Forest and The Home Under
All the bonus materials are presented in
THE PIRATES' SHIP
The Pirates' Ship is divided into
four sections: Board The Pirate Ship, Through The Eyes of
Captain Hook, The Pirates vs. The Lost Boys and The Lost
Board the Pirate Ship (1m) is a
montage of clips of the various pirate ship models and sets under construction.
Through The Eyes of Captain Hook
(6m) presents a very entertaining video diary by Jason Isaacs:
"don't try that at home kids... or at least wait until your parents are
out!" This is arguably the highlight of the bonus materials.
The Pirates vs. The Lost Boys (2m)
features interview sound-bites with some of the cast members, about the
pirates. According to Bruce Spence, who plays Cookson, the pirates see the
Lost Boys as "an absolute pain in the arse"!
The Lost Pirate Song (1m) is footage
from the recording session of a Yo-Ho-Ho-type song that was dropped before
THE BLACK CASTLE
The Black Castle is divided into
three sections: Enter The Castle, Learning To Fly and The
Enter The Castle (1m) shots of the
castle set under construction, and behind the scenes footage of scenes
that were shot there.
Learning To Fly (6m) is a detailed
look at the complex harness work used in the film to show Pan and his
The Mermaids' Tale (2m) is behind
the scenes material of the mermaids in make-up, and on-set.
THE DARLING HOUSE
The Darling House is divided into
four sections: Alternate Ending, Deleted Scenes: Mr Darling on
the Dog House, Me & My Shadow and In the Dog House With Nana.
Alternate Ending (4m) shows Peter
visiting a grown-up Wendy (played by Saffron Burrows, who narrates the
film). Peter is upset that Wendy has grown up, but is introduced to
Wendy's daughter, Jane. This is presented in non-anamorphic 2.35:1 format,
without music, and with some effects shots in various stages of
Deleted Scenes: Mr Darling on the Dog
House (4m). This is a series of related scenes that show Mr and Mrs
Darling anxiously awaiting the return of the children. Mr Darling is
literally sleeping in the dog house, and, to increase his humiliation, he
has arranged for the dog house to be taken to work each day, with him in
it. When you see these scenes you will be very thankful that they were
removed from the film!
Me & My Shadow (1m) shows the cast
filming the interaction between Peter and his shadow. It doesn't go into
any detail, and
In The Dog House With Nana (3m)
shows how the three dogs used in the film (playing the Darling's dog,
Nana) were trained.
THE NEVERLAND FOREST
The Neverland Forest is divided into
four sections: Explore The Forest, Tinker Bell: Behind The Fairy
Dust, I Do Believe in Fairies and Princess Tiger Lily.
Explore the Forest (1m) is a montage
of shots of the forest set under construction, and behind the scenes
footage of scenes that were shot there.
Tinker Bell: Behind The Fairy Dust
(5m) includes interviews with "comic genius" Ludivine Sagnier (who plays
Tinkerbell). The original interntion was to use a CGI creation for
Tinkerbell, but the "wild and sexy" Sagnier won everybody's hearts. Ahhh.
If you pay attention, you can see what looks like a shot of the CGI
Tinkerbell in the background to the Kevin Barnhill interview segment. It's
a shame that we don't get to see more.
I Do Believe in Fairies (1m) shows
behind-the-scenes footage of the fairy dance, and the "I do believe in
Princess Tiger Lily (1m) focuses on
Native American actress Carsen Gray.
THE HOME UNDER THE GROUND
The Home Under The Ground is divided
into five sections: Dig Under The Home, The Legacy of Pan,
Hosted By Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess's Outtakes, Lost Boys
on the Set! and DVD Credits.
Dig Under The Home (1m) is behind
the scenes footage shot on the Lost Boys' lair set.
The Legacy of Pan, Hosted by Sarah
Ferguson (11m) is a version of the behind-the-scenes TV special. The
Duchess of York interviews various people, including Barrie's Goddaughter
and director P.J. Hogan, and investigates the film's special
effects. It says a lot about the quality of the bonus materials that this
lightweight fluff is the most substantial supplement on the DVD.
The Duchess's Outtakes (3m) -
Instead of a goofs reel from the film itself, we have a selection of
outtakes from the Legacy of Pan documentary, and from various promotional
spots the Duchess evidently recorded for the film.
Lost Boys on the Set! (2m) features
sound-bites from the actors playing the Lost Boys, and behind the scenes
The presentation of the film itself can't
be faulted. The picture is vibrant, with more colours than an explosion in
a Dulux factory. The audio is boisterous and well-mixed, with plenty of
show-off surround activity and bass support.
Taken together, the disc's bonus materials don't
add up to very much, either in terms of quantity or quality. There's
plenty of behind the scenes footage, but it's all pretty superficial. The
brevity of each feature quickly becomes tiresome. You'll often spend as much time
spent going backwards and forwards through the menus as watching the
various features. They'll probably keep children amused for a while, but
there's little for any grown-ups who might be interested in the nuts and
bolts of the production. A decent commentary track or two would at least
have helped to form a more rigorous examination of the film's production.
Details about the Region 1 version are
currently thin on the ground, but they suggest that the American
version will not have a DTS track. There's nothing being listed at the
moment that indicates that the Region 1 disc will feature anything
that's not on the Region 2 version.
The review disc was coded for Regions 2 and
4, suggesting that they will be identical.