I do not think that most kids can appreciate how great of a movie P.J. Hogan has made with this new version of "Peter Pan." However you really have to be familiar with not only all of the various versions of the story from Disney to Steven Spielberg but also J. M. Barrie's original plays and books to really appreciate everything that is in this movie. Hogan's purpose was to go back to that original material, but it is impossible not to touch upon everything that has come since then. My generation cannot hear the words "I do believe in fairies" without thinking of Mary Martin beckoning out from our television sets beseeching us to clap (or when Smee turns and gives an aside to the viewer).
On the one hand there are the fantastic elements as Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) and the Darling children Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood), John (Harry Newell), and Michael (Freddie Popplewell) fly off to Never-Land. But this is a more realistic Never-Land than every before for all the wonderful computer generated images. More importantly, these are more realistic children than ever before. Peter Pan is the boy who will never grow up, but he is also on the cusp of puberty, as is Wendy. Into the Darling household comes Aunt Millicent (Lynn Redgrave), who insists that Wendy is not a girl anymore and while her father should start looking for marital prospects at the bank where he works, the more immediate goal is to move her out of the bedroom she shares with her brothers. When Peter Pan appears on the windowsill and requires his shadow to be sewn back onto this feet, Wendy not only does the sewing but accepts his offer to come to Never-Land because she too desperately wants to avoid growing up.
In this "Peter Pan" a kiss is more than just a thimble. This is not to suggest that there is a sexual element to these children or this film that parents need to worry about, but there is the potential for sexuality in Peter and Wendy. It is around the corner and that is important because there is a price to pay for never growing up, and never before has the tragic flip side of Peter Pan's joyful and magical existence been so obvious in telling this tale. Adults will recognize that period of their life it all it's metaphoric splendor in this film.
We also have the most realistic Captain Hook (Jason Issacs) of our acquaintance as well. Hogan continues the long-standing tradition of having the actor who plays Hook do double duty as Mr. Darling as well, but in this richer vision of the story they are as opposite as night and day. When this Hook crosses swords with Peter we know that they it might look like great fun, but these two are deadly serious about the final, fatal outcome. More importantly, when this Hook blusters and bellows he manages to do it without falling into parody. This is Hook as Barrie intended him to be, larger than life, but still a real figure.
Ultimately the power running throughout this story is the power of the story. The Lost Boys are despearate for a mother and to them Wendy can fulfill the role because she has what they consider to be the single requirement: she can tell stories. But there is another, more important requirement for a mother, and this film remembers that as well in the end when the Darling children return to their mother (Olivia Williams). I especially liked the way the film plays the beginning of the reunion of the scene, a nice underscoring of the idea that you can wish for something so hard that you do not notice when you have it.
This is a stunning visual film, but it is also a film of substance that mines Barrie's idea of the boy who would not grow up for everything it is worth. This "Peter Pan" has a depth greater than every all the other versions we have seen on the silver screen to date. This is a glorious film and even if few will really appreciate it the way it truly deserves, there is still the fact that just coming into contact with it will open the minds of its viewers to the greater realm of meaning and significance. Besides, there is always the possibility that somewhere down the road as they enjoy this beautiful film again and again, that eventually they will appreciate what it is all about.
The last time J. M. Barrie's infamous creation hit the big screen was in the lacklustre "Return to Neverland", the latest in a long line of pitiful animated sequels that the Disney Company have been mechanically churning out. The time before that was in Steven Spielberg's critically ill-received "Hook". With these two movies as a somewhat stale background for writer/director P. J. Hogan's attempt to recreate the fairytale, it was not surprising if audiences at large were somewhat cynical.
But children's literature translated onto the big screen is always successful when it is done faithfully and respectfully, and that is precisely what Hogan and his team have done. For the first time ever (if you can believe it) a young boy plays the part of the Boy Who Never Grew Up: Jeremy Sumpter, complete with bare feet, pan pipes and captivating smile. Following in the pantomime tradition, Jason Issacs plays both George Darling and Captain Hook, meek and clumsy in one role, charismatic and brutal in the next. Ultimately a figure to be pitied, Hook is more aware of his dependence on Pan than he lets on, and the two are more similar than either would like to admit.
Olivia Williams plays the beautiful and graceful Mrs Darling, whilst Richard Briers makes a humorous Smee, often making side-comments directly to the audience. John, Michael and the Lost Boys are played by some wonderful child actors, in particular Slightly (Theodore Chester) who creates most of the laughs for the movie: "Okay boys, look lovable." Ludivine Sagnier takes on the rather difficult role of Tinkerbell. The role means she has to rely solely on exaggerated facial expressions to present Tink's "one emotion at a time", though I was disappointed in the failure of creating the bond between Peter and Tinkerbell, which somewhat lessens the impact of her later sacrifice.
The real star of the story however belongs to Wendy, and new-comer Rachel Hurd-Wood breaths her to life. Gone is the prissy Wendy of the Disney productions, thankfully replaced by a young woman who is both mischievous and wise, playful and sensual, with a hidden kiss in the corner of her mouth. She is a remarkable find, and shows considerable talent for one who has no previous experience.
There are a few changes to the original story (mostly surrounding the considerably heightened romantic inclinations between Wendy and Peter), but they are sparse. The inclusion of Aunt Millicent was something that intially didn't appeal to me, but luckily she is not portrayed as a grumpy, aristocratic matriarch, but a somewhat befuddled, though loving aunt. And let's face it, Lynn Redgrave never fails to deliver a performance. The changes are slight and understandable, but those kept true are breathtaking. My main concern was that of Tinkerbell's cure, would could come across as cringe-worthy if done badly, but just try to refrain from smiling when Peter, then Wendy, then the Lost Boys, then the children of London begin to chant: "I do believe in fairies! I do! I do!" (and I was especially glad to see adults included in this declaration - I'm certainly one of them!)
The visual creation of Neverland is something I can't really comment on, as it is entirely a matter of opinion - let's just say it's bright, vibrant and doesn't hesitate to bend the rules of reality. I thought it was beautiful, but only wish I had more time to enjoy it, as sequences of potential awe (such as flying through London and the fairy-covered pirate ship) flashed by too quickly to really soak in.
There is one fault (if you can even call it that) in the telling of the story, and as it's playing on my mind, you'll have to bear with me in sorting it out. By creating a mutual attraction between Peter and Wendy (whereas in the book he called her "Mother" like the Lost Boys), the screenwriters begin a personal development in Peter that is not brought to a conclusion that makes sense. Throughout the story, Peter shows signs of perhaps wanting to leave Neverland: he is horrified at the thought Wendy might marry someone else, it is discovered he loves Wendy's stories because they all end in love, her "thimble" saves his very life, and he even admits to himself at the conclusion - "to live would be an awfully big adventure". And yet, he still returns to Neverland. It would seem all that Wendy has shown him, all that he has discovered about himself comes to nothing, and there is no doubt in audience's minds that the choice he made was the wrong one.
But of course the alternative was that Peter actually *does* grow up, and that defeats the very purpose of Barrie's book. It was a no-win situation for the screenwriters: they could either stay true to the novel, or continue with their own creation and complete Peter's self-awareness. They choose the former, making the conclusion not just bittersweet, but truly heartbreaking.
There is no real right or wrong answer to my comments, its just something I wanted to bring up for people to think about. Ultimately, the story of Peter Pan is as Hook says: a tragedy - a boy is trapped in youth without any experiences of love or marriage or fatherhood. Whilst Wendy will one day embark on what her Aunt Millicent called "the greatest adventure of all", Peter remains a boy that cannot give her what she seeks. Only a hidden kiss connects these two soulmates as a testimony to what might have been.
This live-action version of Peter Pan stars Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook and Jeremy Sumpter as Peter. The story begins in London, where motherless Peter has come to listen to stories told by young Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood). He takes her and her brothers to Neverland to live the wild pirate life, until it is time for them to return home and grow up.
All the characters you remember from your childhood are here: The ticking crocodile (computer-animated and scary), the fiesty Indian Princess, funny Pirate Smee, spunky Tinkerbelle, and even Nana, the dog-nanny. The film is photographed almost entirely in dark, moody lighting to heighten the feeling of magic and danger. Jason Isaacs hams it up just right as the dashing and outrageous Captain Hook and he is good as the timid clerk, Mr. Darling. Jeremy Sumpter looks just like Peter should look - beautiful, cocky, and fun-loving.
Definitely darker and more sinister than the old Disney version, this film has a lot to offer adults: It is visually stunning and reminds us about the innocence and fun of childhood. It's an interesting movie that will put a smile on your face and perhaps a few wistful tears in your eye.
on December 25, 2003
Ahoy, matey! There be quibbles ahead!
They're not dangerous, says you.
Fair warned is fair armed, says I.
Overall, "Peter Pan" is a delightful, beautiful presentation from Australian director PJ Hogan. After the Sturm und Drang of "Lord of the Rings" and hairball of "Cat in the Hat", this movie is very welcome. No Hollywood comedian under formulaic siege from terrorist five year olds, as in "Cheaper by the Dozen" - a clone of "Daddy Day Care".
Avast there! Don't set your course for movies like that, matey. See "Peter Pan"! Pay attention to the rating, but I believe its okay for your little mateys older than 6. After we saw it this morning, we saw it twice more today. That's how much we liked it.
The story most people know is from the Disney cartoon, or even better, the beloved, little fairy play written a hundred years ago by Sir JM Barrie. Few today have read the original novel. It reads like a bedtime story, told to us kindly, gently before we drift off to where dreams and Neverland are born. It's funny and scary, full of children's nonsense; and yet, it lets wistful adults wink at it, too. It is, also, a period piece of its time. The play and novel, chained in Edwardian slang, societal roles, and conventions, do not translate well today. Contemporary productions usually navigate these shoals and reefs to disaster.
The eponymous reference is, of course, to the mythological god and shepherd of the forests. By extension, he is a manifestation of the cross-cultural archetype of spring, the Green Man, who, dressed in leaves, comes from the forest to take his consort, a flower maiden, back with him. Peter Pan is also a victim of contemporary pop psychology -- enough said there, but football widows will understand.
The movie is a very close adaptation of Barrie's published and (recently discovered) unpublished Peter Pan material. Like all adaptations, it is someone else's vision. But, almost everything in it is supposed to point back to Barrie somewhere. They made this movie because they are passionate about the story and intended to film it retaining Barrie's spirit and imagination. That has never been done before. Also, this is the official centenary of "Peter Pan", and there are celebrations. It also updates the Barrie material to fit current, albeit transitory, politically correct notions that may have compromised the producers' original intent. A classic refreshes us; thereby, we give life to a classic, and this movie does that. The production values, especially in design, costume, and effects, are first rate and created by enthusiastic, top-flight people. It's good the story drives the effects, not the reverse. The score, by James Newton Howard, is, by turns, sweet and poignant, jubilant and soaring. It has a good cast, and their performances are solid.
Jeremy Sumpter portrays Peter Pan. He is a poster child for the revolution because an actress has usually portrayed Peter and still does in the musicals. He combines the dashing qualities of Errol Flynn with the athletic flair of Douglas Fairbanks. He makes a very credible Peter Pan, leaf-clad and grubby. Sumpter invested a lot of his blood and tears in the role. He is a teenage idol, too. It was a good marketing decision, though one not without risk, to hire him.
Sumpter does a very good job. You can believe he is the fairy-enchanted youth of Neverland. But, at 14 and 5'6" plus, some may think he is too tall and old for the part. His changing voice and mild lisp dented the mood for me sometimes, though not for other people. But, Sumpter brings to the role everything the actresses have failed at, and everything Barrie wanted, in Peter: courage, recklessness, deviltry, braggadocio, vulnerability, and tragedy. That is no small task, and Sumpter carries it so well.
Jason Isaacs' performance as Captain Hook may redefine the role. This is a dangerous and seductive Hook, and a relief from the buffoon we usually see. Isaacs' Hook is a menace, but he is a PG menace; and, that is all Barrie ever intended him to be. The tweenie boppers may squeal for Isaacs as much as they do for Sumpter. But beware, Isaacs portrays Hook with the same kind of evil seduction that favors Dracula.
Rachel Hurd-Wood, plays Wendy, facing the last night before she must leave childhood behind; for in those days, there was no adolescence in our modern sense. Unspoiled by training or craft, she is, as described in the publicity, an "English rose" and very good. Also, there is undeniable chemistry between Hurd-Wood and Sumpter that is charming and on key.
But, the movie departs from the original's bittersweet conclusion that makes the story resonate still a hundred years later. It is chapter-and-verse Barrie and defines the tragedy of Peter, who must never know love lest he lose Neverland. From a published cast interview, casting notes, and photographs, we know they shot it and they said it was great; but they said the studio decided the filmed scene was too affecting and powerful. For all the filmmaker's talk about capturing the deeper themes of Barrie's story, the studio chose the safer, weaker ending that merely ends the trip to Neverland but not the story of Wendy and Peter. I hope they restore it on the DVD. But, this is just my cynical quibble; you see, the 1924 silent film, a blockbuster of its day, didn't include that scene, either.
Then, should grownups by-pass this cove? Belay the thought! Just go, and take your inner child by the hand for the world is full of weeping. Suspend your disbelief in fairies and boys who fly. Let magic happen for you again.
But cast your weather eye, matey! There may be broadsides.
If there be, then repel boarders!
Watch your topgallants!
Come away, come away for a great -- but too brief - time in Neverland.
on April 23, 2011
PJ Hogan's "Peter Pan" is my favorite rendition of JM Barrie's beloved classic about the charming and wild boy who never grows up. More than any other version preceding it, Hogan puts the struggles of adolescence and the ruminations on childhood front and center in this tory, whereas previous versions merely brushed against these issues in a superficial way. Hogan even allows the attraction between Peter and Wendy to feel a bit more..., well..."heated" as opposed to more platonic. That is not to say this version is crude or inappropriate, but Hogan allows these elements to flow more freely and with dramatic logic. Hogan's version is faithful, but he has made changes here, and I dare say, much needed ones which update this story is the best possible sense, most notably, the ending...instead of Peter returning to Wendy years later and finding out she's an adult and he then starts anew with adventures with her daughter. It instead ends on a much more logical note which is when the lost boys are "adopted" by Wendy's family and Peter still makes the decision, and a devastating one, to remain a boy and he flies away. Instead of this moment feelinglike a triumph, it feels like an escape born out of fear. Which is exactly what it is.
"Peter Pan", more than most others, is one of the titles I have been anticipating with baited breath on Blu-ray. The film is so visually dazzling and the special effects, sets, costumes, and art direction are so beautiful, it screams hi-def "eye candy." I was not disappointed. From the first shot, a surrealized VFX shot illustrating the snowy rooftops of London, I kept saying "Wow", under my breath. Universal's VC-1 encode is beautiful, framing the picture at 2.40 in 1080p. There is a light veneer of film grain which gives the film a warm, filmic texture. There is some mild use of DNR, however, this can be traced back to the source and you will notice it only in certain VFX shots, so this is director intention. I did not notice any glaring edge enhancement, and ringing, aliasing, noise, debris, etc. never rear their heads. This transfer exceeded my expectations on Blu-ray and fans should be equally pleased.
More of a surprise, is the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, which is fabulous...creating an immersive experience that the SD DVDs serviceable, but underwhelming, lossy DD 5.1 simply did not provide. Sound effects are awesome, with lots of rear channel activity complete with great directionality and pans (I had to!), and the whooshes and thumps of the LFE which comprise the action scenes are exciting and reveal much more imaging than I expected. There was a lot of sound information I heard for the first time such as some of the lost boys' wisecracks as they talk over each other, those lines are now present in the ambient surrounds and cross-channel pans. James Newton-Howard's brilliant, magical score comes heart-poundingly to life in all its lossless glory. Dialogue is crisp and well-prioritized with evey syllable being crystal clear. Look at the scene where the entire cast performs the famous "I Do Believe in fairies" scene which needs to balance score, dialogue, sound effects from thunder and lightning, etc....there are a number of complex elements, and it was a muddy mess in SD Dolby, but it now is a tour de force with every element being imaged brilliantly in this lossless encode. It i he only way all this information can be handled. It isnow the exhilarating scene I knew it was.
This is a must-have for fans of the film, and certainly hi-def junkies. It is a reference grade disc in my opinion, and it is a no-brainer for an upgrade if you already own it on SD DVD. Highly recommended.
on February 24, 2004
Seeing this movie in the theater was something of a marvel. My wife and I were surrounded by little children, each of which were more excited about this movie than I had seen for Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars, or any major epic in recent years. See this movie was meant for them. We all know and love the story of Peter Pan, and a good many of us also fell in love with the unofficial sequel Hook (albeit only after it hit home video and DVD as its theatrical presentation didn't fare to well.) But it was only after seeing this movie sitting next to a young girl, about 6 or 7 at the most and seeing how she responded to this film did I begin to understand what Peter Pan is. Its a story about the tragedy of loosing our innocence, about being forced to grow up, and take on adult responsibilities when we all would much rather just play and have fun. Most of all its about wanting the best of both worlds, the things that come with adulthood such as love, and family, without having to sacrifice the comforts of childhood. That is the inner struggle of Peter Pan. He wants to love, but knows that he cannot, because if he gives into his heart it means he would have to grow up. It's amazing to see a movie that so beautifully captures the emotional struggle that children go through at that age. The inner struggle to cling to the things that are fun, and innocent, and childish, versus the desire to become independent, to love and be loved beyond a mother-son-brother-father type of setting, and yet the need to be cared for and taken care of. I was blown away by this movie because quite simply... I have never read the book, and I had no idea Peter Pan was this deep. The most moving part was when the girl I was sitting next to cried into her mother's chest proclaiming that she didn't want to grow up. There is the heart of Peter Pan, realizing that inevitably we all grow up, we'll all have bills, we'll all have unsatisfactory jobs (with a few exceptions), we'll all grow old, and most important we'll all die. Peter Pan is a symbol defying this cycle that binds and imprisons all adults. I suddenly find myself wishing I hadn't grown up either. That's not to say that I don't enjoy the benefits of being an adult, but this movie did make me yearn again for my younger days. Without a doubt, this movie is a must see for everyone. Child and adult alike this film will reach you in ways that no other presentation of this story has ever accomplished.
on January 20, 2004
Directorial vision, a quirky edginess, and a sprinkling of magic make this movie something special. The movie made me recall, better than any movie I've seen lately, that oh-so-brief yearning and ambivalence that preteens on the brink of sexual knowledge feel. They know something is out there that will change them forever, but don't know quite how to put it into words. The girl playing Wendy is only a few steps ahead of Peter in that regard; she's a little more worldly and forceful but clearly doesn't know why she's pushing him to be physical. He's delightfully impish and mischievious yet too innocent to really hurt anyone but himself. Parents, don't be leary of reviews that make it sound too sexual--it's neither too mature nor too childish; the sexual tension is age-appropriate and not gratuitous, but rather, is a vital component of the movie. I would recommend it for children ages 5 or 6 and over. My 9-year-old thought it was fantastic and I think a lot of the boy-girl stuff went over her head. Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook is not to be missed! Give this man more roles--he's excellent as Hook, adding layers to the character I haven't seen in any other version. He's frightening, poignant, silly, deep, and thought-provoking. The special effects are lovely and like Pirates of the Caribbean, the movie doesn't take itself too seriously. The only flaws were a less-than-believable Tinkerbelle; I had no problems with the actress but felt they should have chosen someone closer to Peter and Wendy's age to make her jealousy believable; she seems much older and so her obsession with Peter is a little creepy. Also, the extended "I do believe in fairies!" scene was over-the-top sweet to the point of embarrassment. Still, this movie more than made up for a few missteps. I can't get it out of my mind.
on May 7, 2004
I'd never understood the story of Peter Pan. The Disney version is still probably my least favorite fairy tale adaptation of all of the Disney animated films. And every play or televised version featured a Peter Pan who was played by a tiny, female actress or gymnast, doing very little to bring the story to life for me. So last year, when I took my children to see the movie, I figured I'd settle in for a little nap while they enjoyed the kiddie flick. Boy, was I ever surprised when I walked out of the theatre completely bedazzled.
Never before has this story been presented with the very important angle of the innocent romance between Wendy and Peter, an angle that goes a long way in explaining both the reluctance and the desire to grow up. Finally, with this adaptation, I understood why Wendy might decide to grow up despite the allure of Neverland, and why Peter might regret his eventual decision to remain a forever-boy.
Adding to this the wonderful chemistry between Jeremy Sumpter and Rachel Hurd-Wood and you have a movie that appeals to kids on an adventure level and to adults on an emotional level. The vulnerability and grief in Peter's eyes during the final scene were enough to bring tears to my own. And I have to say that this movie contained one of the sweetest on-screen kisses I've seen in a long time. Using actors that are (or are very near) the actual ages of Wendy and Peter was a spot-on decision, because their very natural fascination with each other and awkwardness about these new and amazing feelings showed in every one of their scenes together.
The film itself is beautiful and lush. Only complaint I have is in the final battle scene between Peter and Captain Hook when the red lighting is used to an extreme, making it difficult to see properly and distracting from rather than adding to the feel of the moment.
Finally, I simply loved the casting of this film. Jason Isaacs showed the perfect balance between cartoon evil and human realism with his Captain Hook. Rachel Hurd-Wood was amazing as the fearless girl who could hold her own against pirates and Lost Boys, yet still showed that special romantic, dreamy quality of all young girls. And Jeremy Sumpter perfectly nailed Peter Pan - confident and cocky with a grin that is going to turn into a wicked lady-killer someday, yet still he showed Peter's ultimate sadness so very well.
Wonderful movie. I'd pick this one over the Disney version any day of the year.
on January 17, 2004
This was a very good movie. It is by far the closest rendition of J.M. Barrie's original story of Peter Pan. I went to see this movie because I wanted to see Jason Isaacs characterizations of Captain Hook and Mr. Darling. He was flawless. Jeremy Sumpter was perfectly cast as Peter Pan. To me the book is about growing up. The fight between Captain Hook and Peter Pan is really about Wendy's fears of this. Had Captain Hook won, the Wendy as a child would have died. Neverland would cease to exist. When she returns home Peter Pan won't return with her. This is the only way the story could end. Wendy is the one that is making the choice to let go of her childhood fantasies. But of course she doesn't totally let go of it. Peter Pan is still alive.
The movie shows the fantasy of Neverland beautifully. It has Indians, Pirates, Fairies, Mermaids, and a Ticking Crocodile. Plus there is a dog as a nanny. The characters have more depth and emotion to them than the other versions that have been made. All of the Peter Pans have been good to watch and are entertaining. However, this movie is the best at depicting the story of Peter Pan. There are moments of the book that have been left out of the movie that I had hoped were there. But the story is still fantastic to watch. I would recommend seeing this movie.
on December 27, 2003
What a beautiful work of emotional and external art! I have always been a Peter Pan fan, but had yet to see a motion picture that quite did the book justice--and I have finally found one!
The movie is faithful to the book without being slavish though--after all, this IS someone else`s vision of a universally loved book. P.J. Hogan adds an interestingly *older* appeal while still retaining all the beauty, wonder, and young innocence of Peter and Neverland. Jeremy Sumpter is the boy always meant for this role. I could not *dream* up a better Peter, with his dirty feet and ethereal smile. Rachel Hurd-Wood is surprisingly convincing as Wendy, and Jason Isaacs a strangely seductive Captain Hook. I also love the new take on the mermaids, and the sheer realness of the Lost Boys. The effects are almost liquid, they fit so well--I`m quite impressed with the flying scenes most of all.
This is undoubtedly the best Pan adaptation to date, stunning in story and setting (filmed in Australia). James Newton Howard blends a perfect meeting of old and young feelings into the score. It made me almost sad that I wasn`t little anymore, even though I`m really no more than a teenager at sixteen. It was the feeling of security and fun that trickles away with the years, and Peter Pan has always aided me on helping me regain that sense of wonder for everything around me. This film is no exception. ^^
The `I do believe in fairies` scene was absolutely magical.
I loved the chemistry between Peter and Wendy--and the fact that it was taken a step further. It really gave more internal depth to them both, Peter in particular.
A truely timeless story evolved into a truly timeless picture--a triumph! I can`t wait to see it again.