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A&E Home Video presents
Peter Pan (2000)

Wendy: "What's your name?"
Peter Pan: "Peter Pan!"
Wendy: "Is that all?"
Peter Pan: "Yes."
Wendy: "Oh, I'm terribly sorry!"

- Elisa Sagardia, Cathy Rigby

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: October 12, 2000

Stars: Cathy Rigby, Paul Schoeffler, Elisa Sagardia
Other Stars: Barry Cavanagh, Drake English
Director: Gary Halvorson

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild language)
Run Time: 01h:44m:15s
Release Date: October 10, 2000
UPC: 733961000115
Genre: family


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-AA- B-

DVD Review

Peter Pan is probably one of the most often performed children's novels in almost all art forms. I personally was never a fan of the story myself, and the classic versions of the story (likethe Disney cartoon) simply didn't interest me much. Despite this, I've always felt the sourcestory would have made a very interesting film project with modern technology behind it. Unfortunately, Steven Spielberg's ill-conceived Hook has probably killed that idea fordecades to come. Fans of Pan still have a hope, however, in the form of the elaboratestage shows. One shining example is this current stage incarnation presented on this DVD fromA&E Home Video.

I freely admit that I found myself going into Peter Pan with a bit of difficulty. Not really liking the storymuch and fearing it to be heavily geared towards very young children, I was worried I'd sufferterminal enchantment. Thankfully, this is not the case since this particular adaption has beengenerously upgraded with a modern sense of humor and an occasional self-mocking tone. Ofcourse, the core story is the same. Set in what is assumed to be the early 1900's, the play tells thestory of a group of children (the Darling family) who have a run-in with Peter Pan, a boy whocan fly. Peter Pan lives in NeverNever Land, along with a variety of other interesting children,including faeries. The children decide to travel there in order to have an adventure, but they alsolearn of the fearsome pirates led by Captain Hook that assail Peter Pan and his "lost boys." Ashas long been the tradition of Peter Pan stage shows, Pan himself is played by a woman;in this case, Cathy Rigby. Rigby stands has performed Peter Pan just about longer than anyone lese, withher gymnastic and acrobatic ability, it's easy to see why.

The acting here is top-notch, including an impressive cast of children who don't seem to be theleast bit intimidated by the huge audiences or massive size and scope of the play. Rigby herselfmakes a good Peter Pan, with an obvious talent for exaggerated movements and actions. She hasan ability for pantomime that helps make the physical comedy go over much better than I thought it would. Speaking of pantomime, the dog Nana (who takes care of the children) is portrayed by Rigby'sson, who is making his stage debut, though it is from behind a costume. Paul Schoeffler easily steals theshow as Captain Hook, leader of the nefarious pirates, and also appears as the father of theDarling family.

No review of this performance would be complete without mentioning the fantastic productionvalues as well. Not only are the sets extremely well made and lit, but the special effects are alsofar beyond the typical stage versions of Pan that we've come to know. A remarkablecombination of effects knowledge and amazing choreography between both cast and crew hasresulted in one of the most impressive presentations of this classic story.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Although I was disappointed that Peter Pan wasn't filmed in widescreen orhigh-definition (I just assumed the television version was cropped), the resulting image is stillstellar. The subtle details of lighting and every set piece are extremely well rendered. The vividcolors used on stage are replicated with perfect balance and brilliance. Things are never too darkor too bright, and the end result is a disc that even children will appreciate for it's visual splendor. There are no digital artifacts or pixelization, and no signs of edge enhancement or any othercompression flaws. I think really think, though, that HD presentation would have sent this filmthrough the roof of visual quality.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The best way to describe the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that accompanies the play is that itseats you in the audience. Turned up loud enough, the soundtrack manages to vividly recreate anauditorium/stage-like presence. While there is very little specific directionality, you won't reallywant any since the performance is so much like watching a play in person. Instead, the frontchannels carry the dialogue and sound effects with acoustic perfection and the surrounds carryaudience cheers and theater-like ambience to the musical performances. An additional Dolby 2.0Surround audio track accompanies the film. While the track certainly sounds decent, it's almostentirely front-loaded without the surround ambience of the 5.1. The 5.1 also sounds much cleanerand pure, most likely because of a better compression standard. So, you may want to go with the5.1 mix even if you don't have the whole equipment setup.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Informational text on the Peter Pan Children's Fund
Extras Review: The featurette included on the disc is a brief, behind-the-scenes look at how the effectswork was accomplished during the show, with Cathy Rigby as guide.
The sing-a-long section is 3 songs from the show done up with lyric sheets. Kids mightlike this feature.
Unfortunately, the 12 chapter stops are oddly placed and somewhat inadequate. Some chaptersare reasonably placed, but others are amazingly long. For example, Chapter 2 begins at the firstsong in the show, which is some 15 minutes into the program.
The disc is finished off with a brief description of the Peter Pan Children's Fund, and some verynice menus and presentation.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Peter Pan proves that children's entertainment need not be bland and patronizing. Thiscurrent Broadway incarnation of the play is arguably the most immersive fantasy setting the storyhas yet seen onstage. This is solid family entertainment that also happens to make full use of theDVD medium as far as quality goes. Highly recommended.

 


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