Peter Pan (2003)

Peter Pan (2003)


In Edwardian era London, 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 with an evil pirate, Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).

Reaction & Thoughts:

Yes, it’s hard to believe that this is the first feature-length live-action film of playwright J. M. Barrie’s immortal tale. In the 1990s, director Steven Spielberg had a chance to do a straight adaptation, but he opted instead for an over-produced update that only worked occasionally (Hook, with Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, and Julia Roberts). Director & writer P.J. Hogan (Muriel’s Wedding) goes back to the source material for inspiration. Peter Pan is a good, but flawed interpretation of the classic children’s story.

This isn’t Disney’s Peter Pan. Hogan’s version has some dark elements. The intense sexual tension between Captain Hook and Wendy is a real surprise. It is made implicitly clear that Hook is lusting after Wendy — the hook is an obvious Freudian phallic symbol. Peter Pan’s innocence contrasts beautifully with Hook’s fiendish personality. It makes for a clearly defined “good versus evil” battle. Most symbols and sexual innuendos will go unnoticed by the small fries, but adults will be undoubtedly fascinated by the hidden messages and double-meanings.

All the iconic moments are presented with energy and imagination, but the level of enthusiasm fluctuates throughout the film. However, the three leading actors are excellent. Newcomer Rachel Hurd-Wood is perfect as Wendy. Hurd-Wood is the heart of the film. Jeremy Sumpter’s winsomeness is irresistible. The kids have good chemistry.

 Jason Isaacs is the best Captain Hook I’ve seen (he also plays Mr. Darling). He is the kind of bad guy you love to hate. Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer) is lovely as Mrs. Darling and the late Lynn Redgrave (Georgy Girl) plays Aunt Millicent. Ludivine Sagnier (Swimming Pool) offers comic relief as the diminutive Tinkerbell.

James Newton Howard’s ( The Dark Knight) music score is effective. The cinematography, by Donald McAlpine (Moulin Rouge!), is very good too. The visual and sound effects aren’t perfect, but they are good enough.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

I do have mixed feelings toward the film. Some ideas worked better than others. The definitive Peter Pan movie is yet to be made. Despite its flaws, a fun fantasy film for kids and adults. Peter Pan was dedicated to Dodi Fayed, the son of producer Mohamed Al-Fayed. Color, 107 minutes, Rated PG.

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