Chapters of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings buried the 2003 adaptation of the J.M. Barrie classic, but many will see this film on the small screen, especially during the holidays.
Title: Peter Pan
Available from Amazon.com
Cast, Crew, and Other Info:
Written by J.M. Barrie and P.J. Hogan.
Directed by P.J. Hogan.
Peter Pan takes an adolescent girl and her brothers to Neverland where they battle the evil Captain Hook before making an important realization.
The makers of this fantasy understood the reality of childhood and adolescence, and made it part of the film. Some people found the sexual/romantic elements disquieting, but the actors make it work without intruding inappropriately into the kiddie elements. We have real adolescent actors here, acting like adolescents in a manner which highlights the film’s themes.
The film explores the fun of childhood while also embracing the darker aspects of Neverland, yet it never becomes too frightening. We are, however, a long way from the Disney film, and this version may be too strong for the very young.
The film gives us a gorgeous and slightly artificial Neverland, but isn’t quite clear how to handle Edwardian London. It’s visually impressive, but it lacks a clear context of reality. Hogan was not certain what to do with the animal nanny, which passes in a cartoon or stylized stage play, but not here.
I also wish they’d decided how to handle time. The film has almost been constructed to make the children’s weeks in Neverland occur in a single night, and yet other aspects of the film clearly show this is not the case.
Originality: 3/6. Pan has been adapted many times before, but this version has its own take on the story.
Story: 4/6. The film adapts the source with relative faithfulness while adding something that had always lingered just below the surface. It weakens and wanders in places, and the ending runs a little too long. Overall the results are a Peter Pan that shouldn’t bore the adults viewer, but which could have been better.
Effects: 5/6. The flying effects work very well. Some people may consider the CGI faeries and the painted visuals too obviously artificial, but the look is clearly a stylistic choice.
Acting. 5/6. Wendy has been well-acted by a novice performer. Peter has presence, but he’s not quite as strong. Hook is excellent as the other side of Pan. The Darling brothers and Lost Boys, however, have been given almost little distinct personality.
Emotional Response: 5/6.
Overall: 5/6. The film understands the appeal of the original story. All children must grow up and while adults should sometimes play and have adventures, we cannot live in Neverland. Peter Pan can do so, because he’s a fictional character and, in part, a representation of childhood. A real person who chose to live in Neverland would most likely be a disturbed fellow indeed.
In total, Peter Pan receives a score of 33/42.