BUENA VISTA has released “FINDING NEVERLAND”. While receiving multiple Oscar nominations, it’s surprising that Director Marc Forster acquired more praise here than for his superior “MONSTER’S BALL”, a superior film. This isn’t meant to take away anything from his work here. “FINDING NEVERLAND” is a beautiful and emotionally involving film and well worth adding to one’s dvd collection. It’s just that the film doesn’t ever take the risks that “MONSTER’S BALL” did. There are few subtle moments here unlike Forster’s earlier film. Johnny Depp plays wrier James M. Barrie, most known for “PETER PAN” in this adaptation of the play “THE MAN WHO WAS PETER PAN”. “FINDING NEVERLAND” explores Barrie’s life before and around the time of his play. We learn of a friendship Barrie developed with a young widow and her four young boys. His delight and passion for spinning fantastic tales for these youngsters clearly inspires “PETER PAN”, and it feels both a logical progression, moving and even inspirational. Unfortunately, Barrie’s detachment from his own marriage is never explored with any depth or much reason. The only “telling” scene, (a beautiful one at that)offers a shot of Barrie and wife saying goodnight as they enter separate bedrooms, his door displaying a world of beauty and fairytale atmosphere, hers leading to a reality-based emptiness.
The film has a fair share of tragedy, beauty and a few laughs, but mostly it’s just well packaged. It’s the kind of film that tries to shame viewers for not liking it more. But, even with some major narrative shortcomings, it’s so much better than the majority of what’s out there in 2004.
BUENA VISTA preserves the film’s 2.15:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement. Colors are solid and often vibrant. There’s great detail throughout and darker scenes are very impressive. Contrast is excellent and grain is virtually non-existent.
BUENA VISTA has provided a DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1 mix. While not overly aggressive, surrounds are employed for a few atmospheric effects, but mostly to boost the film’s beautiful score. The front soundstage offers terrific separation throughout. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.
Forster, along with the film’s producer and writer, all appear on a commentary track. It’s a great track! The three of them offer terrific insight and compliment one another in a way that’s never patronizing to the listener.
A featurettte, “THE MAGIC OF FINDING NEVERLAND”, offers info about the cast and the history behind “PETER PAN”. A “deleted scenes” section offer an option for commentary, and the scenes are all worth viewing, although the reason for their excision, particularly in one instance, is made obvious.
An “outtakes” segment is also quite entertaining. There are other trailers as well as two other brief featurettes.