You can rely on Disney to do “classic” stories well. Since this 1953 version, Peter Pan has been brought to the big screen on numerous occasions, each trying somethings new. This version is a solid one, not taking many risks or too many liberties with the original tale and delivering a watchable version albeit one that won’t really impress as much as it could have.
For starters, the animation is crisp and impressive for the 1950s. Disney at this time had shown they were a powerhouse in animation and nobody else seem to be coming close. The London night-sky, the Darling children compared to The Lost Boys and the fantastical Neverland, with both Mermaids and Pirates alike, Disney manages to effectively bring all of this to life and it never misses the mark.
You can’t fault the story-telling but little of that really has to do with Disney. The tale of Peter Pan, a boy who never grows-up who takes on dastardly pirates, is one of the more exciting adaptations that Disney were putting out at this time and there are plenty of set-pieces which manage to showcase how great the tale is and how well Disney’s animation can bring it to life.
Nevertheless, Disney manage to make it slightly too silly. The Lost Boys are too much of a comedic foil and the pirates slightly too buffoonish. The only character who this doesn’t effect is the main villain, Captain Hook. He is devilishly villainous here and just manage to balance well on effectively nasty and pantomime comical. In fact, one of the faults of the portrayal, is at times you feel sorry for Hook, siding with him over this bratty version of Peter Pan.
In the 1950s, Disney hadn’t yet become the soundtrack powerhouse they would go on to be which would explain why Peter Pan doesn’t have any songs. This means it doesn’t quite feel like it has “the Disney magic” that other classic animations from the studio do. The 1950s means it also gives us a fairly offensive portrayal of Native Americans that ages poorly. There is something to be said for Peter Pan being “of its time” but the scenes stand-out badly and will make some uncomfortable.
Overall, Peter Pan is an effective version of a classic story. Disney’s animation brings it to life impressively and they deliver on the swashbuckling and soaring action well. Some dodgy representations of characters and poor stereotypes age the film and the lack of an iconic soundtrack means it lacks “Disney magic.”
Rating – 3
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)
As always get in touch below with a comment but also like our page on Facebook (Views from the Sofa) or follow us on Twitter – @viewsfromsofa