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RTN was great! *whispers* ...but the original is better...
on 15 September 2002
The title of this review says it all. I think Return to Neverland is an enchanting and magical sequel to Disney's original Peter Pan, but it definitely wasn't perfect.
The biggest problem with it is that the plot is entirely predictable. Wendy grows up and has two children: a girl, Jane, and a boy, Danny. World War II causes Jane, the eldest, to forget about "childish things" such as Peter Pan and Neverland, but her brother still believes. Then one night, Captain Hook arrives and captures Jane, mistaking her for Wendy, and takes her back to Neverland. There's more to the story, but the ending is typical: Jane believes in Peter Pan once again. (But really, what other plot could Disney use for a Peter Pan sequel?) I thought that the original was better plot-wise because it was based on the original story, though I must admit that the special effects, coloring, and sound used in Return to Neverland somewhat made up for the story.
It looks like Disney used a computer to animate Tinkerbell's pixie dust, making it look more realistic. I also liked how they cast leaf-shadows when the characters were standing under trees and such. It makes them look more life-like. But the animation isn't perfect; I think Disney could have done better. If you pay close attention, you'll notice that some characters appear to be cross-eyed or much more cartoonish than they should. (e.g., Mickey Mouse looks more cartoonish than Snow White because Mickey is a talking mouse in red shorts and Snow White is simply an animated human.) This is another reason why I like the original better: everything might look less 3-D than the sequel, but you can tell the Disney animators spent more time making sure everything was perfect.
I also noticed that Peter, Hook, Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys's personalities seem to slightly differ from the original. Peter, Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys are generally much more playful -- Tinkerbell actually does things like blowing raspberries and making faces at Hook. The crocodile has been replaced by a giant octopus (which I seriously don't understand), and Hook acts more afraid of it than the croc. It was also a bit of a disappointment that the mermaids were in only one scene and the Indians, John, and Michael Darling weren't mentioned at all, unless you count the opening sequence (which was actually one of the best parts of the movie).
My point: Return to Neverland may not be the best Disney sequel yet (I believe that was Toy Story 2), but it's still a very good movie.