Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Return to Neverland (2002)

Is nothing sacred? After making straight-to-video sequels for "Lady and the Tramp" and "Cinderella", now Disney is cloning its 1953 JM Barrie adaptation, "Peter Pan". The problem is that it's created a film lacking the wit, enchantment, and spark of the original - despite being a shameless copy of it.

"Return to Neverland" has Wendy (Soucie) as a grown-up mother of two, living through the Blitz in war-torn London. Her young daughter, Jane (Owen), is a realist and tired of being told tales of Tinkerbell and Peter Pan. So Jane's more than a little surprised when the dastardly Captain Hook (Burton) arrives in the middle of the night to kidnap her, whisk her away to Neverland, and use her as bait to catch Peter (Weaver). And that's the new film's, ahem, 'hook'.

Faced with the same cloying lost boys, tights-clad Pan, and bitchy Tinkerbell that Wendy had to contend with, Jane attempts to get home and escape the clutches of Captain Hook. Along the way she realises that - gee - imagination and love is all you need.

Although this is aimed squarely at tots who may not have seen the original (and if so, why not?), parents will be grateful for the brisk running time, while undemanding kids will be enamoured by the bright colours and songs. But it's a shame that the film-makers - Disney's TV animation arm - didn't invest a little more time thinking creatively instead of thinking purely about the balance sheet.

Competent at best, "Return To Neverland" suffers rather like Peter Pan himself - it's constantly chasing its own (superior) shadow.

End Credits

Director: Robin Budd, Donovan Cook

Writer: Carter Crocker, Temple Mathews

Stars: Harriet Owen, Blayne Weaver, Corey Burton, Jeff Bennett, Kath Soucie, Andrew McDonough, Roger Rees

Genre: Animation, Family

Length: 72 minutes

Cinema: 22 March 2002

Country: USA

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