Peter Pan – Get Rekt!

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Greetings, Glancers! Today I run a more critical eye over my tenth favourite movie of the year 1953, seeking to ignore my bias and provide a fair score based on the 20 criteria I feel are most important in the creation of a film. Today’s movie is Peter Pan, Disney’s latest adaptation.

Sales: 4. It’s not quite the smash which Disney’s biggest are, but it still made a tonne of money. You have to always view this category, each of the categories really, in context.

Critical Consensus: 4. Mostly positive. Most of the criticism goes against the portrayal of the Native Americans and the differences from the source material.

Director: 4. Animated movies have a history of double-directors, or a group of directors and Peter Pan is no different. You probably won’t know the names, but each of the 3 directors were experienced animators and directors, working on Sleeping Beauty, Bambi, Snow White, many shorts, and each won or was part of an Academy Award winning piece. They use that experience to ensure Peter Pan is a vibrant, energetic feature.

Performances: 3. It’s all about Bobby Driscoll as Peter, and Hans Conreid as Hook. Everyone is good, but as the majority of characters are kids, there’s an awful lot of samey, high-pitched, posh and juvenile kiddery. It gets tiresome after a while.

Characters: 4. You could go lower here, given it’s an adaptation. But as with most Disney adaptations, it’s the movie characters which become the best known. Pan, Hook, Tinkerbell, Wendy, Tiger Lily, The Lost Boys etc.

Cinematography: 4. It looks great, from the early London scenes to the look of Neverland.

Writing: 3. A lighter adaptation of the original story. Not the most exciting on a personal level and the focus on kids doesn’t do much for me.

Plot: 4. I like the central themes of the plot – not wanting to grow up, responsibility, wanting to go home, and how the different characters’ journey are interwoven.

Wardrobe: 4. If I simply list the character names again, you’ll immediately see their outfits in your mind’s eye. Iconic.

Editing: 3. Sure.

Make up and Hair: 3. Yes.

Effects: 3. Fine.

Art and Set: 3. The Victorian/London house stuff is always fine in Disney movies – they’re better when they’re going all out. Neverland isn’t as magical as it could have been.

Sound And Music: 2. One of the more poor soundtracks of the classic Disney era, there are no standout songs. Never Smile At A Crocodile is fine, but it’s like a nursery rhyme and can only be tolerated for so long.

Cultural Significance: 4. Many of the themes of the book and the movie have stuck around in public consciousness.

Accomplishment: 3. It’s fine – another book brought to screen.

Stunts: 3. Plenty of action, but nothing outstanding.

Originality: 3. Straight down the middle Disney – take a popular story, streamline it for the kids, add some songs.

Miscellaneous: 4. Loads of other versions of the book have been made – it’s debatable whether those are due to the book or the Disney movie. Michael Jackson’s favourite book, movie, character, and he made his own Theme Park… so that’s nice.

Personal: 3. It’s not a Disney movie I really grew up with or return to much. It doesn’t have the songs and I’m not overly fussed on what’s going on. Another day I might go 4 – it’s in my top ten after all, but 3 in the grand scheme of things feel more honest.

Total Score: 68/100.

Let us know your scores in the comments!

Disney Songs – Peter Pan

Walt Disneys Peter Pan [Original Soundtrack] (1951) CD FREE Shipping, Save  £s 5017187758308 | eBay

You know what is worse than the soundtrack to Alice In Wonderland? Hopefully nothing! It’s time for the boy who never grew up to write about Peter Pan, a green weirdo. I’m not a huge fan of the movie, but lets see how the songs fare.

The Second Star To The Right‘: I think this is the one everyone knows – it’s saved from being yet another dreary old choral mess by some gorgeous melodies. The vocals are awfully plain and drift from boring to irritating, but I should remember this was still the early 50s and rock ‘n’ roll had not yet come along to wise everyone up. It’s a great little song at its core, very simple, dreamy like a lullaby, but the vocals and arrangement here don’t help it.

You Can Fly‘: I tend to skip this one when listening to Disney soundtracks in the car – it’s the spoken parts I can’t stand. As I’ve said countless times before, they work in the movie, but not without the visuals. Sadly the song is let down again by those dreadful choral voices. I love the lyrics and how happy, innocent, and hopeful they are, the melodies are drowned out by the backing harmonies which offer nothing beneficial and an assortment of dog barks and background noises which are terrible without the visuals. There’s a decent song in here somewhere.

A Pirate’s Life‘: A short one, only thirty seconds long, so I’m not sure it truly qualifies as a song – it’s more like a drunken shanty which is perfectly fitting – you get the impression that the pirates would sing this on a nightly basis, improvising verses and instruments and what we have here is a mere snippet.

Following The Leader‘: This begins with a marching band drum band before a choir of kids sing the central line. This somehow manages to be less annoying than the adult choral voices – it’s a lot brighter and more fun than those efforts and the off tune whistling isn’t bad either. It’s exactly the sort of catching nonsense you can imagine kids singing around the schoolyard in a conga line.

What Made The Red Man Red‘: Ah yes, this one. Disney has a number of horribly stereotypical moments in its past, and while I’m in no way an advocate of wiping those from history, there is nonetheless something unsavoury about hearing this today. The lyrics, the vocals, and of course the whole scene are culturally insensitive and there’s no getting away from it. Naysayers will say this is a cartoon and it’s for kids and we shouldn’t get so worked up about such things – I suspect they are the same people who are up in arms when they hear about a homosexual character being added to something like My Little Pony or Beauty And The Beast – you can’t have it both ways, guys. The fact is that there was a time when this sort of thing was more acceptable – that time is gone, but we shouldn’t hide from the fact that it happened. We don’t need to condone it or delete it, but impressionable youths should be taught that such things are not cool. In any case, it’s not the best song in the world, but it has its own style.

‘Your Mother And Mine‘: Another one that starts which a spoken section, though it’s brief enough to not need to skip. I love the vocals for the most part, the melody is gentle and emotive, but for once the backing strings don’t do much for me – they don’t accompany the vocals or the vocal melodies well in the slightest, hurting what could have been another essential Disney ballad.

The Elegant Captain Hook‘: It’s one of those talky/singy songs. Choral vocals again – they just don’t work for me, neither does all the descending brass and backing music.

Never Smile At A Crocodile‘: This is the other classic. Interestingly the song appears in the film without the famous lyrics – that piece only being released decades later and becoming an instant children’s classic. The song is great, pure childhood joy.

A considerably shorter affair than Alice In Wonderland, and much better songs to boot. The songs still aren’t great, one or two have their moments, and a couple are deserving of being sent into space for posterity. Never Smile At A Crocodile and The Second Star To The Right are the songs you would want to play to the alien civilization that you meet 15 gazillion light years through The Spac Hole. Or to your kids. Next time around we’ll be listening to The Lady And The Tramp, so stick around. Let us know in the comments which songs from Peter Pan you enjoy most!