Peter Pan: Second star to the right and straight on till morning.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Since its inception, the element of fantasy has always been the heart of Disney movies. And while many adults grew up and continue to love Disney we all grew up on it as children and children today grow up on the old and new Disney movies alike. And when you envision a child’s fantasy you get Peter Pan. True to Neverland’s purpose it has many things that a child would enjoy doing in playing make-believe like flying, going off to faraway lands, fighting pirates, spending time with mermaids, etc. And while it lacks the dark edge of its source material it still proves to have a childlike spirit that can appeal to kids and adults alike.
The story involves the three Darling children Wendy, John, and Michael. Their father George is angry with the kids’ stories about Peter Pan and the pirates told by Wendy and angrily claims that Wendy has gotten to old to stay in the nursery with them and declares it her last night there. Peter Pan visits the three along with his pixie companion Tinkerbell, teaches them to fly and upon learning that it is Wendy’s last night in the nursery takes them to Neverland so that they never have to grow up.
Outside of the beginning and end, which take place at the Darling House, most of the story involves the children sightseeing around Neverland while taking on Captain Hook and his pirates. The greatest strength in regards to its story is that all of this gives the great sense of childlike adventure that the movie is trying to provide. And all the sightseeing does come full circle with Wendy being forced by her father to grow up as she decides after coming home that’s she’s ready to do so. The adventure of Neverland truly feels like a rite of passage out of childhood.
The romance between Peter and Wendy is also great and very much how little kids fall in love. Wendy is very much obsessed with Peter upon meeting him and Peter doesn’t really know what to make of it. They never share a kiss, which is actually nice.
In regards to the animation the many different parts of Neverland are animated well and it looks like very much like a child’s paradise. However what really stands out is Tinker Bell’s animation. She never speaks in this movie but her movements and expressions define her dialogue and personality, alone which is very effective. The slapstick between Hook and the crocodile is also very hilariously done through its different movements and expressions.
Pan is very much a typical kid hero. He’s very cocky, brave, and commanding. However being a kid he doesn’t often know when he can be mean such as when he laughs when the mermaids hurt Wendy.
The Darling children are all very likable. Kathryn Beaumont’s voice acting makes Wendy’s childlike innocence very entertaining. Despite having a very motherly care and being very tame she does have her limits as seen when the mermaids tease her. John is exaggeratingly mature through his sophisticated way of speaking and Michael who is the cute and playful one.
The villains of this movie are truly memorable. This version of Captain Hook is what most people think of when it comes to the character in terms of both his design and personality (outside of the Once Upon a Time version). He’s very threatening but also very comical. His first mate Smee is also very memorable in that despite wanting to be evil he’s too bumbling and good-natured to be so. These two combined with the crocodile leads to some of the best slapstick throughout the movie with its timing, pacing, and expressions.
Peter Pan has a great deal of charm, magic, and wonderment in it. It doesn’t have the same level of emotion as some of Disney’s earlier films but it genuinely feels like it was made with the heart and spirit of a child. These elements make it appeal to just about anyone.