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Up front I will say it: this is the best Peter Pan adaptation yet, and
in what follows I will tell you why. Despite the film's quality, it
failed at the box office, and for good reason. Insight into that shall
be revealed as well. Such sage wisdom ye shall not find in other
reviews. Read on.
The main thing that sets this adaptation apart from previous attempts is sexual tension. Yes, sexual tension. If you've read other reviews, no doubt it has been mentioned. Many people seem to take offense at said tension. Such people seem to forget what it was like to be in the age bracket of 12 - 14. The makers of this film don't dance around the fact that Wendy has just met the boy of her dreams, and he is ready to whisk her off to fantasy land. Much is made of the fact that they meet in the bedroom and play father and mother to the lost boys. The relationship of these two pre-teens is as complex as any two adults in any other movies. And the young actors handle the relationship with grace and authenticity.
The production itself is beautiful, albeit stylized. The filmmakers do not mask that neverland is a fantasy world, and it stays that from beginning to end. Every frame in this movie is beautiful. There are some moments that are literally breathtaking.
Ultimately what makes this film excellent is that it tells a story. And this story is centered on Wendy, and the boy of her dreams: Peter Pan. Except he cannot be the man of her dreams, and that is truly tragic. Captain Hook is the opposite: a man who cannot be young. A man who is "old, alone, and done-for" according to Pan. We end up exploring Wendy's psyche throughout the film, and it is almost perfectly achieved.
But why did this film fail at the box office? Competetion. Who can possibly defeat Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, two bigger and much more commercial adaptations of fantasy books? This film deserves to be a classic and is one of the best fantasy movies to date. All should see it, young and old. It is rich, beautiful, and exciting.
Tradition be damned! I HATED the Mary Martin, Sandy Duncan, Cathy Rigby
productions of Peter Pan! There, I've said it. I realize I'm in the
minority on this point, but I have NEVER been able to accept the idea
of some actress dressing up in silly green tights, singing equally
silly songs, while pretending to be a prepubescent boy pretending to
fly on silly piano wires. I fully admit that it's a pet peeve of mine
and not meant to denigrate those who have delighted in this tradition.
As a long time lover of the J.M. Barrie stories and play, all I can say
is that P.J. Hogan's "Peter Pan" is the Pan movie I have waited my
entire life for. It is simply a glorious retelling of the J.M. Barrie
tale. After Spielberg's dreadful 1991 abortion, "Hook" I was convinced
that the story had been buried forever as far as big budget film-making
was concerned. I thought all there would be was the 1953 Disney
animated film, which unfortunately is more Disney than Barrie or worse,
that I was condemned to a lifetime of endless reruns of Mary Martin and
Cyril Ritchard. Boy, was I wrong. Taking its visual cue from the
wondrous illustrations of Maxfield Parrish, Edmund Dulac, N.C. Wyeth
and Arthur Rackham, this new film recreates the storybook Never Land on
a level that has never been achieved before, nor will ever be again.
But the film is not simply a special-effects fest a la "Star Wars". The effects, dazzling as they are, are just the icing on the cake. Hogan understands it is the characters, and our need to care for them, that must carry the film. And this film has a wonderful cast. Jeremy Sumpter is a great Peter Pan. Gifted with a luminous smile and physicality, he captures all the radiant cockiness, the self-delighted impishness of undefeated, indefatigable youth. One almost feels sorry for Hook for having such an adversary. Rachel Hurd-Wood in a very impressive film debut does a marvelous job as Wendy, the young daughter of the Darlings now at the beginning of young womanhood. Hurd-Wood is both child and woman, and she and Sumpter have very warm and charming screen chemistry in their scenes together, capturing the potentially dangerous under-current of adolescent sensuality without ever hitting you over the head with it, or becoming too cloy. Olivia Williams as Mrs. Darling isn't given much to do, beyond being the mother everyone wishes they had, but she does that very well, and she serves the story beautifully. And she is absolutely gorgeous. In the double role of Mr. Darling/Captain Hook, Jason Isaacs finally comes into his own as the cinema's most perfidious villain since Basil Rathbone crossed swords with Errol Flynn. Isaacs is simply magnificent in a role he was born to play. With a sneer and a swash of his buckle he obliterates forever the image of Hook as a buffoon, the mere butt of Peter's jokes. This is a dangerous, deadly Hook, a figure of Satanic dignity, who one can believe might actually best Peter some dark, unlucky night. Lynn Redgrave plays the role of Aunt Millicent, a character created for the film and not in any of the Peter Pan literature. While the new part doesn't really add anything to the story, it doesn't really take anything away either. And Redgrave is always a joy to watch. Finally the performance of the great Richard Briers should be noted. As Smee he steals every scene he is in. It is a delightful comic turn.
The one performance I questioned was Ludivine Sagnier as Tinker Bell. While I loved the concept of Tink as a bitch-sprite, capable of murderous intent, I felt at times her performance was a little broad. This may have been the outgrowth of having to play a purely physical role without the benefit of any spoken lines. On the other hand I thought she was vastly superior to Julia Roberts who played the same role in "Hook". Nor was she a Marilyn Monroe wannabe from Disney. Sagnier to her credit never plays the part for easy sentimentality.
Hogan and company have brought the Barrie work to the screen and have rightly restored to it a child's sense of awe and wonder, of both beauty and terror co-existing side by side and for this reason alone it is the definitive film version of Peter Pan
This is by far the most accurate and striking adaptation of the J.M.
Barrie favourite that has yet been made. Indeed it is difficult to see
how it could have been better.
Whilst I'm writing here in praise of the film, I feel I must take issue with the comments of Mr John Ulmer who criticised the film for a number of reasons. I seek to defend the story of Peter Pan and in particular this version. Firstly, it was said that this version has sexual over/undertones.
Erm... well yes... any accurate portrayal of the story would have, as these subtleties are present en masse in the book, indeed more so in the book than in the film it could be argued. It is precisely this evident descent towards Wendy's loss of innocence that both disturbs and excites adult readers of the books and this is quite intentional. Children who are not of an age to appreciate this level are untouched by it but rather take delight in the glorious idea of never having to grow up but instead being allowed to play forever. Indeed the relationship between Pan and Hook is the struggle of youth to overcome the onset of age (singular human vanity and innocent childish rebellion combined). I do not believe that this film's handling of this aspect of the book was merely present in "sick adult humour", I believe that it was beautifully hinted at in a way which would stimulate adult appreciation and childish fascination in the character of Pan.
I should like to make mention of the parallel which Mr Ulmer draws between this version of Peter Pan and Jumanji (namely the use of the same actors to play the adversary and the father of the lead character) is not just a trick put in to hark back to that film. Indeed the tradition of the same actor playing the role of Mr Darling AND Hook dates back to the story's original appearance as a stage play at the turn of the century and has been carried on on most occasions since then, though I concede that the Disney version (a far less worthy and sterilised version) failed to keep this tradition up.
As for the point at which the two boys are hung upside down in their nightshirts, I thought it was funny, as did the rest of the audience in the theatre and we certainly weren't there with a red pen counting the number of bottom shots as Mr Ulmer appears to have done. This film is full of charming humour, adult overtones for the adults, childish fantasy and wonderment for those of the appropriate age. The acting is superb in all areas and I must make particular mention of both Ludivine Sagnier as a wickedly funny Tink and of course Rachel Hurd-Wood whose screen debut showed her as a previously undiscovered talent who will surely go far. All the others were excellent also.
All in all this film rekindled my love of the book which I have now re-read a number of times and makes up for all those years Pan has spent in the Disney wilderness.
This movie is, in a word, BRILLIANT. I've always been a fan of Peter
Pan, and LOVED the Disney and Mary Martin versions we all grew up on,
but this film is 100000x better than any other version! This is THE
definitive Peter Pan. I can't say enough about it! This has quickly
become my favorite film of all time. It's hard for me to explain why,
but, NO movie has touched my heart like this before, ever. It's dark,
funny, SEXY, intelligent, and a bit scary; just like the original
In her film debut as Wendy, I thought Rachel Hurd-Wood was nothing short of brilliant. She really does look like she belongs in another era! I can't believe they found this girl at an open casting call! Amazing. If she chooses to continue acting, Rachel surely has the power to become one of the biggest actresses in the world within the next few years.
As for Jeremy Sumpter, he was, in my opinion, equally as brilliant. I've been a fan of his since his first film!! Frailty was obviously a different kind of movie, and Jeremy was good in that, but, he just IS Peter Pan!! I'm not ashamed to admit I have a crush on this boy. His smile melts me every time, and he has the indescribable boyish charm that is essential for the role. I know a lot of people get on his case about his little lisp, and about his supposed "wooden" acting, but, I thought he was the perfect choice. Where ELSE would they find a kid who looked good, was fit enough to do all the stunts, AND have the same AMAZING chemistry he had with Rachel?! It just wouldn't have been the same movie without him =) Mark my words, this kid will be a HUGE box-office draw very very soon!
A lot of people dislike how Tinker Bell was played, but I really enjoyed Ludvines performance!! Tink is everything she's supposed to be: Jealous, petty, and totally devoted to Peter! She is, after all, a very "common girl" and I thought that aspect came across great.
There isn't one weak performance in this flick. The Lost Boys are all charming and adorable in their own individual ways. Jason Issacs Hook is UNDENIABLY sexy and intriguing. Jason is also effectively meek and mild as Mr. Darling. As Smee, Richard Briars never fails to get laughs. And Oliva Williams plays the PERFECT Mrs. Darling, and she is really one of the most beautiful woman i've ever seen.
This movie was far superior than anything i've seen in a looooong time. I just think it's pretty damn near perfect, and it's already a classic in my eyes. We can quibble all we want about the films imperfections, but, I just like to focus on the MANY things that the movie got right. The special effects are often jaw-dropping without feeling overdone. The colors in this movie are drool-worthy. It's like nothing i've ever seen!
This is VASTLY underrated by many people, bur i'm pleased that it got as least mostly positive reviews, and has a devoted fanbase that grows every day! Rent this, and the whole family will love it!! What other movie has sword fighting, flying, fairies, mermaids, indians, pirates, AND romance!?!?
Long Live Peter Pan!!!
When I was very young, the first version of Peter Pan I saw was the
annual televised production of the Broadway Musical starring Mary
Martin. It was delightful in its own limited way because after all,
when Mary as Peter took to the skies you could definitely see the
wires. Not to mention that Peter's shadow looked suspiciously like
female hosiery sewn together in the shape of a boy. Some years later,
when it was first released on video, I finally was able to enjoy the
animated Disney version of J.M. Barrie's classic story. The songs, the
animation, the characters were all first rate. Later, I caught a
special showing of the Broadway Peter Pan again, this time with Cathy
Rigby filling the shoes of Mary Martin. She was full of spunk and
energy, and certainly had the physical frame for the role but you could
still see the wires. Then Stephen Spielberg tried his hand at it,
bringing us Robin Williams as a grown up Peter Pan, Dustin Hoffman as
Captain Hook and even Julia Roberts as Tinkerbelle. Spielberg called
his film Hook, and it's the first time that character was ever given
star billing. I like Julia Roberts, but the beam of light used for
Tinkerbelle in the Broadway production gave a better performance. Of
course, being a Spielberg film you couldn't see the wires, but
surprisingly Spielberg somehow forgot to make his film either
interesting or magical. I'd rather have had the magic and seen the
wires. The question is, just how many versions of the story does one
need? Please don't despair, as it turns out, the latest may just be the
greatest of them all.
In late 2003, Director P.J. Hogan brought to the screen his vision of the boy who would never grow up and having just viewed it on DVD, I can proclaim with all honesty that it shall forever be the definitive version of Peter Pan. Well, at least for me it will be. Through the spectacular use of CGI, Hogan brings us a wondrous and beautiful Neverland never before realized on film. From the opening scenes in London and the flight to Neverland, to the snow encased ship of Captain Hook and his Pirates, each scene is rendered in illustrious detail. In one of the more humorous bits in the film when Peter loses his shadow, the shadow takes on a life of its own and it sure isn't unused panty hose. When Peter Pan flies, he does so unimpeded by any laws of gravity, twirling, bouncing, and floating, in a whimsical way that not unlike Superman, will convince you that with the help of good thoughts and fairy dust, a boy can indeed fly. With each movement, Tinkerbelle emits a shining sparkling cloud of fairy dust that fills the screen like a thousand Independence Day Sparklers. When Peter, Wendy, John, and Michael first arrive in Neverland, they land on puffy pinkish clouds, which are quickly bombarded by Captain Hook and his cannons. In one of the most compelling and touching scenes in the film, Peter and Wendy are witness to a fairy dance, and then take to the skies themselves in an airborne ballet. When Pan takes flight to engage in swordplay with Hook and his pirates the scenes are nothing short of amazing. These are just a few of the many magical, charming, and energizing moments throughout Peter Pan.
As for the story, it pretty much sticks to previous incarnations we've seen in the books, films, and on Broadway. Wendy tells stories, Pan listens and loses his shadow one night, the dog Nana makes a mess of things a few times, Papa tells Wendy she has to grow up, Pan comes back to retrieve said shadow and off we go!
There is however, something inherently different about the relationship between Pan and Wendy than anything previously seen. We are made well aware of the fact that Wendy stands on the threshold of womanhood, and all indications are that the process has indeed begun. Peter, on the other hand, had run away from home with Tinkerbelle, before the rites of passage from boyhood to manhood had commenced. It is well within Wendy's ability to love, whereas the concept of true love is a foreign concept for Peter. He cannot love, and will not love, and is firm in his resolve to stay a boy forever. It sets up a much more tense conflict between Wendy and Peter and adds an emotional depth to the story never before realized.
Much of the success of Peter Pan also has to go to the young actors portraying Peter and Wendy. Jeremy Sumpter, who shined in Bill Paxton's haunting film Frailty, will make you forget any previous portrayal. For most of the film he is as he should be, the carefree rascal who sees fighting Hook and his crew as the ultimate in playground merriment. Late in the film, as he discovers the darker side of his emotions, he handles the transition as well if not better than many adult actors.
For Wendy, Hogan chose English Actress Rachael Hurd-Wood. As far as I can discover, this is her first film role of any kind, yet one would hardly believe that would be possible from watching this film. When she discovers she is on the verge of entering womanhood, she is able to portray both the fear and loathing of the prospect, but yet she depicts a wide eyed curiosity of what is to take place. Later, her anger and frustration in dealing with Peter's vow of perpetual childhood, has the same believability of someone twice her age dealing with the same conflicting feelings.
Most of the adult actors are no slouches either. Jason Isaacs does a duo role as both Mr. Darling and Captain Hook. How good is he? I didn't realize he was playing both roles until referencing the credits on IMDb. As Mr. Darling, the timid banker, he reminded me a lot of David Tomlinson's Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins. His Hook is as dastardly a hook that has ever taken the screen. Let's just say that when this Hook does away with someone, they pretty much stay dead and you won't see that kind of ruthless in the Disney animated film. Olivia Williams as Mrs. Darling is perhaps the weakest link in the film. She seems not to be able to portray the deep sadness that comes when one's children are missing, and likewise her joy at their return home is equally unimpressive. She is clearly overshadowed by Lynn Redgrave as Aunt Millicent.
And what about Tinkerbelle? I certainly can't leave her out. She is played with a lot of panache by an actress named Ludivine Sagnier. She does it with a lot of spunk, a little sass, and a ton of energy. She will quickly make you completely forget the fact that Julia Roberts made a mockery of the same role in Spielberg's Hook.
And most importantly there's the biggest surprise of all. Having seen the trailer several times before the film's release last years, I was under the assumption that as it always seems to be the case these days, most of the really good stuff was shown in those few minutes of advertising. I couldn't have been more wrong. Let's just say that if you saw the previews in the theater or on the internet, what you saw is just the tip of the iceberg of the discoveries waiting for you within this film.
One may come to the conclusion that perhaps I am going overboard in my praise. Yet, whether you are young or just young at heart, or wish you could fly away from your troubles to the wonderful place called Neverland, there is something in Peter Pan for even the most cynical film-goer. For an hour and fifty three minutes, it certainly made me feel younger than my years, and when a film does that I have no choice but to give it my grade and it's an A sprinkled with a healthy dose of fairy dust.
By Bradley A. Draper
One must see this movie with an innocent, to glean the full joy of this precious childhood fantasy in film. I had that privilege with my seventeen year old Niece, Allison. Ah, to be seventeen again. Such a magical age. But I digress, back to the movie.
Every frame in this dream like story is an oil brushed painting. This film is so visually beautiful it will take your breath away. From dodging cannon balls in pink cotton candy clouds, to sailing ships in the sky, and a live golden sprite called Tinkerbell, such imagery will carry the young at heart to Never Land, forever and a day. And the score sweeps to match the brush of such sights the eye beholds.
The script was actually pretty simple, but is it? The director, P.J. Hogan, chose to follow J. M. Barrie's book, a sweet little English Victorian children's fairy tale with adult overtones, that tells the story of Pan, the boy who never grows up. This memory is in the thought of every responsible adult, in a whimsical wisp of a dream that is nostalgia.
So the story is set, the imagery is magic, the music is perfect, but always, that is the easy part. The writer, director, and most importantly, the cast must pull off the story to make it really sing. This is after all just a movie, and it is dictated that a movie should be generally profitable. I care not one wit for this, as I seek a diversion from reality, and "Peter Pan" the movie took me to childhood's comfort. This cast really works.
There is Peter Pan of course. The Pan, the tempter at the bedroom window. Jeremy Sumpter is Peter Pan. He is a daunting young man, very athletic, and he has that melting smile of the mischievous boy that seems to affect the female heart. Yet, he is still a cocky cut-throat little soldier, ready to take on Hook and his band of pirates.
Jeremy finally breaks the mold, successfully, of middle aged gamine women who had played Pan in the past, and it is refreshing for sure to see Peter the way he should really be. As a young and brash boy, with dirty feet and hands, blond tousled hair, in one hand a sword, and in the other an acorn - a kiss, for Wendy. Jeremy as Peter has some rather heartbreaking moments that affected my male heart, and like all men, I suddenly felt a longing to be a lost boy.
Wendy's father sans Captain Hook, is traditionally one in the same, and this movie rendition is no different. The disciplinarian, and forbidden male dominator, Jason Isaacs perfectly portrays Wendy's Father and Captain Hook, in a delicious dichotomy of stodgy Victorian Dad and the vile evil villain of a pirate. Hook is not to be ignored for he is a key character in this tale. Hook is bad, but we can admire him. And for one moment, Wendy wants to be a pirate and join Hook and his motley crew, as "Red Handed Jill" - ah - a great pirate name, as Hook would remark with gusto.
Olivia Williams is cast as Wendy's Mother. Olivia is one of the most beautiful women alive today. This is necessary, as she must impart a genetic note upon her daughter. Wendy is as beautiful too - just not quite grown up yet. Olivia as Mother of her kidnapped children, is heartbreaking, as night after night, she sleeps in their room, and insists the window be kept open for their return. And when they do, such joy, and Olivia's maternal instincts convince a stodgy husband to adopt the lost boys.
Then there is the fairy sprite "Tinkerbell". She is a key player. Tink is the temptress, the reason Peter Pan stays young. Yet she holds faith in her magical wings and cements the story's chapters together. Tinkerbell is portrayed by the current French coquette that wishes to be Bridgett Bardot, Ludvine Sagnier, who has been seen in French films, in various states of undress. Oh, how perfect, because Tink is a nymph, a sprite, a fairy, and has no concept of "clothing." She is perfect for this role of jealous female as a golden spiteful insect. And you will believe you can fly, if sprinkled with her pixie dust.
To round out the cast, Smee is notable as Hook's comic relief, and Dame Redgrave as Wendy's Aunt adds a necessary Victorian touch, the little girl who plays Tiger Lilly is precious, the mermaids are menacing, and Wendy's brothers with the lost boys throw in the delicious little boy gang. Hook's pirate crew is truly funny and revolting at the same time. Tictoc the croc is really big, and a very real looking digital monster. And who could forget Nana, the Newfoundland nurse dog, who's own brand of protective mischief plays a part in the film.
But it is Wendy, precious and wise Wendy, that really, is what this tale is all about. A young girl on the cusp of womanhood. That is the most tender and fragile of times. She is in love for the first time in her life, with Peter - recalcitrant at parents and teachers authority. A budding beauty that seeks the freedom that Peter Pan gives. A most complex creature this nubile young lady. She is the focus of the story of Peter Pan.
What female actress could fit the bill? Well the makers of the movie looked for someone perfect, interviewed some 300 girls, and in doing so, found the perfect Windy. Rachael Hurd-Wood is an unknown, just pre-teen English lass with lush and long light brown hair, big blue eyes, a body so demure in flannel nightgown, she has dimples and a slightly toothy grin framed by full promising red lips, and such wonderfully perfect cheekbones which mark a little girl as a future beautiful woman. Prior to Peter Pan, she only acted in school plays. She captured my heart and soul as she did Peter's.
And now, because of this part, Rachael is Windy always and forever. She takes on the roll as mother to the lost boys in a touching caretaker way. Yet she is tomboyish and brave enough to sword fight both Pan and Hook. And Wendy is the conscience of civilization. When Peter tempts her "come with me . . . we will never, never, have to worry about grownup things again." Wendy looks at him sadly and remarks "never is an awfully long time." But then Peter smiles and then Wendy smiles, and suddenly we are flying above the rooftops of London in our pajamas to Never Land. Wow! That's love. That's magic. That is the lure of Never Land.
If as a parent, you are reticent to take your child to this wonderful film, it would be as if you would have prevented said offspring from seeing "The Wizard of Oz." You must share this story with them, as it has all the whimsy of childhood magic that an adult can participate in, with, and as if, a child.
This is a wonderful film. One that adult and child can enjoy together. A true classic and I highly recommend it. Oh, and while you are at it, buy Barrie's book as well, and read it to yourself and to your children, as Peter's shadow watches over you.
From the moment when I saw the first preview for this movie in the
theaters, I was completely captivated. I've always loved the story of
Peter Pan; I grew up watching the Disney and Mary Martin versions, and
always thought the story to be one of undeniable power and beauty. When
the film was released, I went to see it with my family, and was
overwhelmed. I laughed, gasped, and cried, and the movie had my
complete and enthralled attention from the opening notes of James
Newton Howard's equally magical score through the end credits.
The actors and actresses for this film are all superb, Rachel Hurd-Wood as Wendy and Jason Isaacs doubling as Captain James Hook and George Darling being the obvious and inarguable standouts. Miss Hurd-Wood perfectly captures the spirit of Wendy--maternal, precocious, brave, loving, and loyal--and Mr. Isaacs is endearing as Mr. Darling and both fearsome and deliciously erotic as Captain Hook.
Jeremy Sumpter also did a fabulous job as the title character, Peter Pan, and I thoroughly disagree with those who proclaim his performance as "wooden"; in my opinion, he captured Pan's eternally childlike spirit perfectly, and the chemistry between him and Miss Hurd-Wood was very real and something that was sadly missing from both the Disney-fied version and the stage versions which have cast women in the role of Peter.
The Lost Boys were all brilliant, and worked together and with Mr. Sumpter comfortably to create a believable and familiar little family. The pirates were, of course, delightfully evil, and Richard Briers as Smee served often for comic relief, even as Hook thoughtlessly shot down crew members left and right. The lovely and gentle Olivia Williams was a wonderful Mrs. Mary Darling, and her exchanges with Mr. Isaacs as Mr. Darling were believably loving.
James Newton Howard did a wonderful job with the musical score for this film, completely capturing with both adult and children choirs, lilting woodwinds and strings, synthesizers, menacing and heroic brass, and magical bells, the spirit of Neverland and of Peter--mysterious, enchanting, innocent, with an undercurrent of darkness just beneath the surface that erupts full-force when Captain Hook is on the screen. I would rate the soundtrack a triumphant 10 out of 10 stars.
Everything fit together perfectly, in my mind, to bring forth to the masses a faithful and touching version of the classic story--I left the theater feeling profoundly moved and thoroughly enchanted anew with the story I had known since childhood. Every time I watch this film or listen to the soundtrack, I am haunted by its magical power for days afterward. I love this film dearly, and offer my thanks and praise to its cast and crew. A perfect 10.
We attended the World Premier of "Peter Pan" in London and are happy to
report that the film is exquisitely lensed, brilliantly cast and
with Barrie's original concepts of growth, loss and the bittersweet
For young and old, this is definitely a must-see film. Children will be able to enjoy the story on the full-blown adventure/fantasy scale, while adults will be deeply moved by the underlying emotion of Barrie's classic tale.
While watching the film I was caught by the memory of being a child again. All the wonder and sheer joy of it. I felt that sensation, as I did so many years ago upon reaching that moment in my life just on the cusp of adolescence, when I realized there was something much more to life than play and schoolbooks. It was fascinating and frightening.
PJ Hogan has done a superb job of melding these adult emotional truths and childish delights. The script balances the themes with a touch of magic, adherring to Barrie's works quite faithfully (verbatim at times), while infusing the whole with wit and wisdom. This is not a dumb film to be viewed as mere spectacle. The dialogue will make you laugh and think and most certainly feel.
And this thanks to superb casting. One has to admire the producers and directors for casting for talent and appropriateness for role above Hollywood stardom. Rachel Hurd-Wood, in her first performance handles Wendy's emotional struggles with the acting chops of a seasoned veteran. She is a youthful beauty on the edge of bloom and one has high hopes of seeing her yet again. Jeremy Sumpter, excellent in last year's "Fraility," is definitely Peter Pan. Cocky, adventuresome and self-absorbed. He handles the demanding action extremely well, and while at times his American accent is a bit troublesome, he does manage to capture Peter's uncertainty regarding his choice to remain forever young and therefore left behind.
And then there's the leading man in character disguise, Jason Isaacs. In a word, brillaint. And beautiful to behold in the demanding and complex dual roles of the dorky Mr. Darling and the dangerous, handsome Captain Hook. So polar in appearance are these portrayals that if you didn't understand Barrie's tradition of casting the same actor for both roles, you might not recognize him. His Darling and Hook are divergent yet deeply connected roles, and Isaacs never gives in to camp or ham acting. Its a superbly intelligent and mesmerizing performance and he embues the whole with genuine charisma and virile sex appeal. With his leading man looks and leading man talent, one has to wonder why he's not a big star yet.
Visually, the film is exquisite to behold. One of the most beautiful films to simply "look at" that this viewer has yet to see. The entire screen is awash in vibrant storybook colors and elaborately detailed yet enticing sets. All production values are top shelf and belie the enormous budget.
As for the special effects, it is difficult to tell where traditional wire work and set stunts end and special effects take over. This film is a hugely complicated effort that does at times call a bit too much attention to itself to the distraction of the story itself. Less would have been more in some places, particularly in the final battle.
James Newton Howard's score is magical and enhances the story without overwhelming. I've been humming the tune since last week. Patterson's costuming is spot-on and imaginative without detracting from the iconic nature of the characters.
This tale is iconic and classic after all and for the first time audiences can truly witness and enjoy Barrie's deep and delightful tale as he intended. See the film, you will rediscover so many things lost and now found again. The kids will love it, too!
Remember Betty Bronson and Ernest Torrence as both Peter Pan and Captain
Hook respectively? Doubt it. That is because to even my amazement, the
last time the true story of Peter Pan was done in a live action format was
in 1924 starring the two above mentioned actors that while appearing in over
80 films collectively, we probably wouldn't recognize them if they walked
down the street with name tags on their shirts.
Enter December 2003, and P.J. Hogan's retelling of the classic tale that hit theatres amongst all the Oscar hopefuls and faded from memory before recouping even half of its reported $100 million dollar budget. Thank God for DVD.
To have to spend time telling the true story of Peter Pan would mean that the reader of the critique was robbed of an incredible children's story about a fantasy land where kids never grew up and a pirate by the name of Hook set out on a personal crusade to avenge the hand he lost in an earlier confrontation with his nemesis, Pan.
This updated version stars a bunch of newbies or character actors that might seem familiar if unplaced at the time of your viewing. In the role of Peter Pan is Jeremy Sumpter a young child destined for stardom that first took our notice as the young Adam in Bill Paxton's Frailty. He, alongside his fairy friend known to us as Tink', he travels from Neverland to England where he hovers outside a families window to hear the stories of adventure as told by the eldest daughter, Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood).
It is not long before the two become acquainted, and Wendy with her two brothers agree to leave their oppressive parentally controlled world and follow Peter and Tink back to a land where children run free and never get old. But pursued to the ruthless Hook and his pirates entourage, there are lessons to be learned, enemies to be defeated and as is ultimate in any fairy tale, a happy ending to endure.
One of the first things you will notice while watching Peter Pan is the incredible production values. Shot in Australia and New Zealand, Universal Studios spared no expense in bringing the childhood story to life. How Peter Pan chases his shadow, how the fairies all fly into their tree loft and the incredibly vibrant colors are all testament to P.J. Hogan's unique vision of telling story as it was J.M. Barrie almost 80 years earlier. Most fascinating is how the art of film flying has evolved from the blue screen laughers almost 80 years earlier. Most fascinating is how the art of film flying has evolved from the blue screen laughers as seen in the Superman franchise to its perfected state in Peter Pan. When Pan and Hook eventually fight amongst the clouds and ships masts in the climax, the shadows are just perfect, the effects are not hokey and the style allows for the actors to feel free from the restraints of the conventional wires we were accustomed to seeing in cheaper adaptations.
Sure, there was a few things that bothered me a little (the repeating 5 note musical score for one), but I was amazed how transformed I became while watching a movie that I was embarrassed that I coupled with Kill Bill Vol. 1 with my rental at the video store. A story that I had seen so many times before in so many formats (plays, animation etc.) was made fresh again by the highly entertaining energy that the cast all put into their roles.
I will admit that Peter Pan is not for everyone. The cynical will call it average and those that are still drinking heavily to try and forget Steven Spielberg's 1991 failed effort Hook, might not be over the nightmares to enjoy this jaunt.
However, with or without a family by your side, this is one of the forgotten films of 2003 that deserves a rental and an open mind.
Having seen the movie a few hours ago and the initial joy wearing off,
movie still leaves a pleasant taste in your mouth. This is Peter Pan as it
should have been done years ago (although quite possibly couldn't have,
effects wise). The movie is highly stylised, which works brilliantly, and
very rarely has any cringe-worthy moments.
The lead actors, both children, are wonderful. Jeremy Sumpter as Peter has a certain arrogance and cockiness about him that really works for the boy who never wants to grow up, and his chemistry with the actress playing Wendy is very palpable. The successfully manage to hold the movie on their own, though Jason Isaacs as Hook/Mr Darling is wonderful in his own right. Never over the top, as it could be so easy to do, but never forgetting that he's in a make believe land, full of mermaids, flying children, and hugely oversized alligators, one with a specific taste for his flesh.
Overall this movie is a joy, not only for children but for adults alike. The style is unique, the effects are wonderful, and the plotline tight. Definitely highly recommended :)
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