Return to Never Land

  • (Also known as Peter Pan in: Return to Never Land and later retitled Peter Pan II: Return to Never Land)
  • Directed by Robin Budd and Donovan Cook
  • February 10, 2002 (NYC) / February 15, 2002 (US)
  • Based on characters created by J.M. Barrie

Voice Cast

  • Jane-Harriet Owen
  • Peter Pan-Blayne Weaver
  • Captain Hook-Corey Burton
  • Mr. Smee-Jeff Bennett
  • Wendy Darling-Kath Soucie
  • Daniel-Andrew McDonough
  • Edward-Roger Rees
  • The Lost Boys (Cubby, Nibs, Slightly, and Twins)-Spencer Breslin, Bradley Pierce, Quinn Beswick and Aaron Spann respectively
  • The Octopus-Frank Welker

During the Blitz of London, Wendy’s daughter Jane is mistakenly kidnapped and brought to Neverland by Captain Hook where she must learn to believe in the unbelievable to get home.

Sequels done years if not decades (just shy of a half century with this one here) are a scary endeavor for fans. Will the magic be recaptured to some extent? Will this be a poor imitation of the original?

I was bit hesitant to go see this originally. I went only because I had a four-year-old that was jazzed to see it but ended up enjoying myself. I took this in again to see if my feelings on the film were colored by a good time with my now adult son. They were not.

Return to Never Land advances the story in time and brings it to the events of World War II and the British evacuation of children to the countryside. Wendy’s daughter Jane fears the future and has grown up far too fast in the face of events. Wendy for her part is trying to shield Jane from the world.

While below the surface it deals with serious matters, it’s just a fun adventure through the eyes of a child. You can look at it as simply Jane working through her anxiety or a story that confirms Peter is most assuredly real. Why? Wendy meets up with him after the adventure is all said and done but even that could be Wendy just engaging in the fun.

We get enough of the essential characters returning that their absence is inconsequential. Peter Pan, the Lost Boys (Cubby, Nibs, Slightly, and Twins), Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, and even an adult Wendy Darling make an appearance. The voice casting is spot on. Corey Burton for example does a great impression of Hans Conried. The difference here as opposed to the original which kept with the stage play was that Burton did not play the father. That role was taken by Roger Rees who would go on and cowrite a Peter Pan play. Anywho…

While this was made decades later, the animation style is virtually identical to what was done in the original. There are a few things that could only have been accomplished with the technology of the day but from the character designs to go look at everything it is nearly 1 to 1.

That is for everything but Tinker Bell. For some reason Tinker Bell has a yellow dress on rather than green. I’m not sure why she went from yellow to green. An indication that it’s Jane’s imagination fueling things and not Wendy’s? Or did somebody just goof? Both are equally possible.

Return to Never Land is very much in the spirit and feel of the original. It is equal parts, rehash and new. They tweak the formula, but don’t do things completely different. For example gone is the crocodile, but it’s replaced by an equally menacing cephalopod, that rather than ticks makes a rhythmic suction cup sound as it moves about.

While nostalgia will get you to initially watch, that nostalgia isn’t the only thing that keeps you seated. The story and the characters and the just general fun of an old-school style Disney movie keeps you there. They execute this as they would have when the original film was originally made. This is Disney comfort food and that means a bouncy story with a lesson tucked.

This may be family friendly, but it is enjoyable family friendly. They keep it clean yet avoid talking down to the audience. The dialogue is not edgy nor do they feel some need to subvert expectations. They give the audience what they want not only in a Peter Pan film but in a Disney film as well.

Return to Never Land is a great throwback to Disney of old. This is something will please fans of the original and their children.

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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