Peter Pan (2003)

Peter Pan (2003)


In Edwardian England, Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer) and her younger brothers befriend a flying boy, Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter, Frailty), who takes them to the magic world of Neverland where they are confronted by an evil pirate, Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).

Reaction & Thoughts:

It’s hard to believe that this is the very first authorized live-action sound movie adaptation of playwright J. M. Barrie’s immortal tale. Aussie director and writer P.J. Hogan (Muriel’s Wedding) adds some personal touches to Barrie’s well-known tale and the result is hardly perfect, but still good enough.

This Peter Pan is much darker than previous versions. It’s made implicitly clear that Captain Hook is a predator lusting after Wendy. Not only is Peter Pan tasked with rescuing Wendy, but he is forced to protect her innocence as well. The sexual tension will undoubtedly go unnoticed by young viewers, but adults will be definitely fascinated by the hidden messages and double-meanings.

Despite the new adult subtext, the film sticks pretty close to Barrie’s story. The trip to the magical island of Neverland, the introduction of the Lost Boys, etc., all these iconic moments are recreated with energy and imagination. The mid-section is a bit flabby, but overall, I say “well done!”

The three leading actors are excellent. Rachel Hurd-Wood is perfect as Wendy. Jeremy Sumpter’s winsomeness is irresistible. Hurd-Wood and Sumpter also have great chemistry. Jason Isaacs is the best Captain Hook I’ve seen, so far (he also plays Mr. Darling). Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer) plays Mrs. Darling and the late Lynn Redgrave (Georgy Girl) plays Aunt Millicent. Ludivine Sagnier (Swimming Pool) steals a few scenes as the diminutive Tinkerbell.

James Newton Howard’s (The Sixth Sense and The Hunger Games) music score is effective. The cinematography, by Donald McAlpine (Moulin Rouge! and The Chronicles of Narnia), is very good too. The state-of-the-art special effects (Industrial Light & Magic) aren’t perfect, but they are good enough.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Peter Pan wasn’t a success: audiences were apathetic and film critics were unkind. I do have mixed feelings about the film. Some ideas worked better than others. The definitive Peter Pan movie is yet to be made. However, despite its flaws, I really enjoyed the movie — it’s a fun fantasy film for kids and adults. Color, 107 minutes, Rated PG.

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