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DVD Review: FINDING NEVERLAND

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FINDING NEVERLAND

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 101 minutes, feature commentary, deleted scenes, outtakes, featurettes

STUDIO: Miramax

RELEASE DATE: 3-22-2005

ANALYSIS: What does one imagine when they hear about FINDING NEVERLAND? Do they think it's the story of Michael Jackson with Johnny Depp as Michael Jackson and Kate Winslet as Lisa Marie Presley? Of course not! Don't be silly. FINDING NEVERLAND is about the children and woman that inspired the play of Peter Pan. James M. Barrie was coming off a flop when he met Sylvia (Kate Winslet) and her four children. J.M. (a child that never grew up is the best way to describe him) is taken by her children and he spends as much time as he can. He starts getting ideas for his next play, Peter Pan. He neglects his wife (Rhada Mitchell) who wants to be a social climber. Sylvia's mother (Julie Christie) disapproves of J.M. spending time with Sylvia and the kids. J.M. is stuck in a time when social standing was everything and scandal was easy.

FINDING NEVERLAND is a magical movie. The writing is crisp while the acting is brilliant. The moments featuring the Peter Pan play are pure magic. FINDING NEVERLAND is one of those gems that is more magical than anything you see in BIG FISH. I adore the actress playing Peter Pan in this movie. I wish I could have seen more of her as Peter Pan. It is the type of movie which can also appeal to kids while holding deeper stuff for the adults (like the problems in Barrie's life and the illness Sylvia tried to hide from her kids when they just lost their father not too long ago).

VIDEO/AUDIO: FINDING NEVERLAND is presented in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. Image Detail is nice. Colors are deep and rich. A good example is look at the how green is shown in the Park scenes. Blacks are also good. Smoke and fog doesn't look right somehow.

You can hear the movie in English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Dialogue is clearly heard. Music and sound effects are OK. You can also hear the movie in French or Spanish. Subtitle options include English, French, and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Three deleted scenes are included on the DVD (with optional commentary explaining why the scenes were cut and Johnny Depp knew two of them would be cut). The scenes are halfway interesting, but they add nothing to the movie even though I like the lines in the second scene. Outtakes show Johnny Depp and Dustin Hoffman having fun on set, but the highlight has to be seeing Peter Pan colliding with the stage wall again and again.

THE MAGIC OF FINDING NEVERLAND featurette focuses on the actors cast in the movie (with clips from other movies starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet), the themes of the movie, and the Peter Pan play (and how the profits benefit a children hospital to this day). CREATING NEVERLAND is too short and the three minute featurette briefly touches upon the special effects in the movie. I would have love to seen featurettes on the costume design and the sets. The feature audio commentary with screenwriter David Magee, director Marc Forster, and producer Richard Gladstein. The commentary is OK to listen to as it gives some details on J.M. Barrie's life around the time the movie was based in, production details, and someone's cell phone going off twice during the track.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  FINDING NEVERLAND is a magical trip that will not disappoint. Good writing and great acting carry this journey from start to finish. I do wish the DVD had more featurettes on the making of the film.

this DVD Review is (c)3-22-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia