In this big screen adaptation, Peter Pans played as intended (but as we havent seen prior to this incarnation) by a young, athletic, teenage boy. Jeremy Sumpter (Frailty) stars as the boy who wouldnt grow up. The story begins with John and Michael Darling being entertained by their older sister Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood), a superb teller of tall tales. Wendys mesmerizing stories involve dangerous adventures populated with pirates, lead by the black-hearted Captain Hook. Unbeknownst to Wendy, her tales have captivated a total stranger, Peter Pan, who listens in from outside her second-story bedroom window. Peter Pan then takes her stories back to Neverland to recite to the Lost Boys who anxiously await further adventures a la Wendy.
After a particularly disastrous day at work, Wendys very strict, very uptight father (Jason Isaacs) decides its time for her to put aside childhood and silly stories and to begin to act like a young woman. The same night he hands down that decree, Peter Pans shadow and Tinker Bell (Ludivine Sagnier) get trapped in the Darling house. The very stealthy Peter must forego remaining unseen to chase down and reattach his shadow. Once his presence is known to the Darling children, Peters own storytelling ability is enough to convince Wendy and her two brothers to fly off with him to Neverland. Stepping out of the safety of their comfortable home, the Darlings and Peter Pan soar through London, over rooftops and through the clouds, landing on that magical island where adult rules dont apply and kids stay young forever.
Peter Pan leaps off the screen by mixing the muted landscape of a sedate city with the glorious palette of a fantasyland sprung from the imagination of children. This live-action film version does contain many of the elements recognizable from the classic cartoon version, however those same elements have been enriched or re-imagined. The crocodile who bit off Captain Hooks arm is the size of a city bus. Hook himself is a much more sinister figure who doesnt flinch when shooting one of his loyal pirates found guilty of a minor indiscretion. Even Tinker Bell is more malicious, equipped with a spiteful streak and a wicked sense of humor.
Theres been a lot of talk about the sexual undertones in this newest rendition of the classic J.M. Barrie tale, Peter Pan. Some critics have even mentioned getting a little creeped out at the sexual electricity between Peter Pan and Wendy. Could that be because Jeremy Sumpter and Rachel Hurd-Wood are teens who, in real life, would be at the point in their young lives where theyd be discovering the opposite sex? Because we havent seen a Pan played by a real boy before, this sexual attraction is a new twist on this beloved tale. It seems perfectly natural when you take it in the context of the actors ages and get past the prior theatrical incarnations including the Disneyfied animated version. Others have mentioned the weird sexual tension between Wendy and Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs plays both Hook and Wendys dad). Any sexual attraction in that instance would be just cause to feel weirded out. In this case, I think its just the magnetism of the actors concerned and not the roles (Im hoping that makes sense). Any electricity between the two which I personally didnt sense wouldnt have been scripted. The films geared toward a younger audience and I cant imagine that would have been the filmmakers intention.
Pirates are vicious killers, kids can be mean, running away doesnt solve any problems, and if you dont believe in fairies, they fade away and die. All lessons learned from Peter Pan. Another lesson learned from this Peter Pan is that letting a kid play a kid on film can add a whole different dimension to an age-old story.
Truthfully, I went into this movie not expecting much but came out of it having enjoyed the experience. "Peter Pan" is gorgeous, entertaining, and features spirited performances by newcomers and screen veterans alike.
"Peter Pan" was directed by P.J. Hogan and is rated PG for adventure action sequences and peril.