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Peter Pan:
Platinum Edition

You might think that we didn’t need another DVD edition of Peter Pan. For the casual consumer of Disney movies -- say, the six-year-olds -- you’d be right. If you can find the previous release, called “Special Edition,“ with a couple of primitive set top games, it should do you just fine.

But this -- this is the two-disc Platinum Edition. A Platinum Edition pulls out all the stops and all the archival material Disney can find to deliver a comprehensive package. At least until they find more. Even if you have that earlier release (or the one before that), this should be a great temptation.

Heck, if you’re here, you already know you have a problem with growing up. So Peter Pan speaks volumes. It’s one of the Disney “classics” that really is a classic, despite, admittedly, a less than progressive vision of Native Americans. Yet even that depiction could possibly be seen as a child’s vision -- ignorant, but not malicious. Ultimately, everybody looks ridiculous in the film, just as most get a chance to be heroic.

The digital restoration does seem to be sharper and brighter than the transfer on the previous DVD. That might not matter to you, but it makes it easier to get lost in the artistry of the thing.

As, clearly, the animators currently working at Disney have done. Studio vets Ron Clements and John Musker host several of the extras, and it seems like the chance of a lifetime. Not only do they have a documentary on the making of the film (which echoes, if not outright steals, an extra from the previous disc), they delve into the Peter Pan “that almost was.”

Almost was, you ask? More than one project kicked around the studio for years before coming to fruition, and J. M. Barrie’s classic story was once slated to follow up Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Through stills, narration and test dialogue, the studio presents a darker vision, one that Walt swept away in the shadow of World War II. It’s an interesting look at a “failed” project, providing another reason why Disney was himself one of the best story men Hollywood has ever had.

The DVD also points out that this story was close to Disney’s heart. (Then again, did he ever do a story he didn’t love?) Archivists found a magazine article he wrote -- Why I Made Peter Pan -- and found a decent sound-alike to read it over stills and recreations of Disney’s boyhood. It’s cute enough, but again, something largely for the hard-core fan.

Kids, however, have plenty to do. In addition to the now usual “Disney Rock” video version of a classic movie song, the first disc separates out the more familiar numbers and provides lyrics for a sing-along. The previous release had a few, but not as many. Also upped are the games and activities available on this disc, including a child’s introduction to Sudoku. Because pirates love Sudoku.

Sort of taking a page from the studio’s Platinum Edition of The Little Mermaid, the disc also has a virtual flight with Peter Pan above the London skyline and into Neverland. It’s a cool touch, and on a big screen could be a pretty good ride. Really, it’s not that far from the actual ride in Disneyland’s Fantasyland. This trend on Disney DVDs is fun; I hope it continues.

The only downside is a look at Tinkerbell, an upcoming CG direct-to-video release that currently isn’t on track. After getting swept up in the magic of a classic, looking at a new movie so clearly designed to sell another line of girls’ toys and clothes seems like a letdown.

Not that kids will notice; that’s just us parents groaning at the thought of all the pixie dust spattered items coming into the house next Christmas.

Peter Pan (Two-Disc Platinum Edition)

Derek McCaw

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