Finding Neverland

Cover Art and Menu: 7/10
Don’t make me say the “B” word again. Come on people! I know these movie people want to get the attention of the common rental/buying public by splashing the stars of the flick on the cover, but give me a break! This is a classy film, top quality story telling, an expensive production, a classic really, and they decide to grab for the glory and put some glossy air brushed face shots of Depp and Winslet on the cover. Johnny Depp rules, I have to say, but the cheesy factor of this cover chips just a little bit of coolness off his oh-so-cute shoulder.

Extras & Features: 8/10

  • Deleted scenes with optional commentary – I am becoming quite ambivalent about this deleted scene business. I have rarely found much entertainment value on this section of any DVD. Usually they only include three or four and even the commentary doesn’t make them seem very substantial. None of these deleted scenes shine new light on the story or show more about any certain character. Most scenes were cut for time reasons, or because they repeat something that’s addressed in another scene somewhere in the movie. That seems to be the most common cause for scenes to find themselves on the deleted scene section of the DVD. It’s good to have commentary tossed in the mix, but with something like Finding Neverland, it’s obvious (and expected) that the more material they can put on the disk the better it is for a fan. I would like to order no less than 12 deleted scenes in the future Mr. and Ms. Movie Company Executives:)
  • Outtakes – Ok, it’s just plain funny to see movie stars mess up. I can’t help it, I’m a product of the 80’s when TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes hit the air waves. This little section in the extras is a fun few minutes including a farting machine…you just have to watch for yourself 🙂
  • Feature Commentary With Filmmakers – I love this film, and I appreciate every comment or tid bit of background information this group of filmmakers can throw our direction. It’s an endearing story (sorry for how sappy that sounds) and it seems like the people involved really have a passion for making a great film, that always makes commentary on a DVD as intriguing as the movie on its own.
  • The Magic Of Finding Neverland – A look behind the scenes at the making of what I consider a modern day classic. I enjoyed this film (even with a tear or two running down my girly cheeks) so I love to see more more more about how it was made. This thirty minute TV documentary features bits about Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, the younger members of the cast, and more. It’s a well produced piece that isn’t flashy but holds your attention from start to finish. You can tell the people who made Finding Neverland were in love with the project and that makes the film so much more satisfying. It’s a great extension of an already excellent film watching experience.
  • Creating Neverland – You might not think that visual effects are part of a dramatic feature film, but these days modern technology rears it’s wonderful head around every corner. There are times throughout the story where reality and fantasy are blurred in the eyes of the leading man, and what you see on screen reflects that. This little featurette shows some of the tricks of the trade and the creativity behind such a visually invested film.
  • On The Red Carpet – This is a short look at the premiere of the film, but more than that it explains about how Sir James Matthew Barrie left all rights to the story of Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children in London. So, every time a movie is made, a play is written, a book is printed, or any other version or reference to the classic tale goes to research and care of children.

The Movie: 9/10:
I’ve read a few reviews of this film lately and I have seen words like “amazing”, “wonderful”, “boring”, “dull”, “colorful”, “ambitious”, “pure fiction”, etc. That’s quite a varied collection of interpretations. I’m sure it’s enough to go around, but what the heck, I’m glad to toss in a few more, like “fun”, “lovely”, “visually stimulating”, “somewhat sugary”, “classic”.

The New York Times writer says it’s a bit dull, referring directly to Johnny Depp’s performance. Well, dull is the last word I would use, however, there is a lot of control of his usual over the top style. It’s convincing and appropriate and far from boring. I appreciate his versatility, and I am completely biased because I have been a fan since his Jump 21 days. Not that I liked the show, but I loved Depp from the first time I laid my young eyes on him. Don’t hate me for my skewed youthful female naiveté.

I’m gonna sound like a real starry eyed sap, but I’m also a huge fan of Kate Winslet. She’s always a joy to watch and Finding Neverland is no exception. She plays a mother of four young boys and as always she brings a certain casual elegance and charm to the character. Sounds good eh?

The boys in the film are all wonderful, and they carry off many lines and scenes that even adult performers wouldn’t be able to manage with such dignity and honesty.

With the performances out of the way let’s get onto the heart of the matter, the story. It’s obviously a semi-fictional account of how the story of Peter Pan was conceived in the mind of JM Barrie. Stories based on real life are intriguing, but we will never know which details are fabricated and which are based on real life. I have tried to research a bit about Sir Barrie, but come up with lots of brief descriptions about him writing Peter Pan, and that’s about it. I know most people don’t want to know the REAL truth behind the fantasy that is portrayed on the big screen, but I like to know where the line between fact and fiction lies. I guess I will never know. Even without the whole story, the film stands on its own as a charming and lovely tale of imagination, of unconventional love, and the process by which something amazing can come to be, like the story of Peter Pan.

The look of the film takes you back to the turn of the century when there were more rules, more attention to etiquette in society, and less tolerance for single mothers raising their children on their own. It’s a small element of the film, but it’s mentioned a few times, how inappropriate the relationship between JM Barrie and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies must have appeared to the upper class snobs in English society. It’s not a history lesson kids, but the way the movie is made, the production, the direction, it feels like a trueish telling of what it was like way back when. Maybe I’m a sucker for a period piece flick.

It’s a must see if you love really good movies that tell a good story, look great, have big time movie stars, and might just make you shed a tear..go on guys, give it a chance. Everyone needs a good cry every once in a while. 😛

Value: 9/10
Now this is a good value if I say so myself. Go for it folks. If you love good stories, Depp, Winslet, Oscar winning/multiple nominated films, or have any kind of obsession with the history of Peter Pan, well, this is the DVD for you. It’s only around 17 bucks online and with the fair amount of extras it’s one of the best bargains out there. As my husband says, “Finding Neverland is a gem.” so you’ve got to know it’s a must have for your collection.

Overall Score 8/10