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Although Wendy (Kath Soucie) has now grown up, she has never forgotten Peter Pan and tells bedtime stories to her two children in war-torn England about the boy from Neverland. Given the responsibility of looking after her mum and her toddler brother by her dad when he leaves for the front, Jane (Harriet Owen) has misplaced her imagination and complains that it is all pixie-dust poppycock. But one night, Captain Hook (Corey Burton) kidnaps Jane, mistaking her for Wendy. They journey to Neverland where Jane meets Peter Pan (Blayne Weaver), Tinker Bell and the Lost Boys. Janeís misplaced imagination threatens Tinker Bell with extinction, and as her light fades, Jane realises what she has done.

Review by Louise Keller:
If life is making you cynical, it may be time to return to Neverland, the utopia of our imagination, where pixie dust sprinkles hope, faith and fun. Of course, there's no replacing the original 1953 classic, but Disney's animated sequel brings back the original characters that delighted us through childhood, taking us gently on a new adventure. Targeted at a young market, Return to Neverland is a bright, colourful jaunt into a land beyond the second star to the right, where rainbows glisten, mermaids sun themselves in the cerulean waters and a giant orange octopus flounces its massive spotted tentacles and huge yellow eyes. The evil Captain Hook is there of course, clad in shades of crimson and purple, but the scene stealers are delightful Peter Pan, the irrepressible Lost Boys and delicate Tinker Bell. The first feature release from Walt Disney Animation Australia, the animation is true to the original, but utilises advances in technology to achieve such effects as Tinker Bell's pixie dust, created in two dimensions combined with computer-generated effects.†

The story is simple, with elements of good and evil, but it's the ability to recapture the magic that only our fertile imagination can bring, that gives it its heart. When Jane retorts that she doesn't believe in fairies, Tinker Bell's light begins to wane and finally peters out. Return to Neverland is a tale about magic and believing. I am sure that I felt a sprinkle of pixie dust when Peter Pan was reunited with the now grown-up Wendy in a brief, but moving moment at the end of the film. Like Wendy, we may all change on the surface, but it is reassuring to know that we can still recapture a moment of precious innocence and joie de vivre in our own Neverland, given the chance.

A bright, colour saturated transfer to DVD, with instructions that are clear and simple enough for the very young, you can read along (or read to yourself) as Wendy tells the story of Never Landís New Hero. Thereís a game to play in which we can rescue the Lost Boys and Jane and find the hidden treasure. By clicking on the X, we can find our way around the Jolly Roger. But beware, if youíre caught by three pirates the game is over. Producer Chris Chase and executive in charge of production Sharon Morill introduce the deleted scenes, explaining that they are unique in that they show the black and white storyboards, rough animation (also in black and white) and final colour. Scratch or temp voices are used in these scenes. We meet Jonatha Brooke in the studio singing the poignant tune ĎIíll Tryí with the musicians. In Art Attack, Neil Buchanan shows how to make your own dream island with tissue paper, glue, cardboard and some paint. Who says dogs canít fly is the question posed in my favourite special feature, a delightful cartoon called Plutoís Fledgling, in which a cute little red and orange fledgling falls out of his nest while trying to fly. Pluto takes him under his wing, and the results are enjoyable and amusing.†

Published September 19, 2002

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CAST: VOICES: Blayne Weaver, Harriet Owen, Corey Burton, Kath Soucie

DIRECTOR: Robin Budd, Donovan Cook

RUNNING TIME: 72 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES: Disney Story Time: Never Landís New Hero; Rescue The Lost Boys Adventure Game; Lost Treasures: Deleted Scenes; Iíll Try Music Video featuring Jonatha Brooke; Cartoon: Plutoís Fledgling; Art Attack Ė How to Make Your Own Island.


DVD RELEASE: September 4, 2002

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