Director: P.J. Hogan
Cast: Jeremy Sumpter, Jason Isaacs, Rachel Hurd-Wood
Duration: 113 minutes
A lavish production, filmed at Australia's Gold Coast studios.
Co-writer and director is P.J.Hogan who made his mark with
Muriel's Wedding and My Best Friend's Wedding. He obviously
has great devotion to playwright J.M.Barrie and his immortal
creation, Peter Pan.
Peter Pan has had many incarnations on stage, screen and
television. It has been pointed out that he is usually played
by a girl or a woman. While Disney's animated 1953 Peter Pan
and the recent Return to Neverland have Peter as a boy, this
film has a boy playing our hero. (Though, I should add, that
I sorely missed 'Never Smile at a Crocodile' this time round.)
Some critics have got themselves into a lather in their reviews,
taking the opportunity to execrate Steven Spielberg for Hook
- Spielberg was trying to interpret his own life and career
through Peter Pan as a middle aged executive who had grown
up and forgotten Neverland and needed to go back there, something
that this Peter Pan gives as a reason for not growing up.)
Hogan recreates a turn of the century London that we are
familiar with from stories like Mary Poppins. Mr Darling could
be straight out of Mary Poppins with his subservient business
nose to the grindstone, not understanding his children too
well. In the meantime, they are being bossed about by their
socially climbing aunt, Lynn Redgrave. Their mother, Olivia
Williams, loves them, even if they cavort around the house
playing pirates and they do have their dog, Nana, as their
nurse. This is the situation when Peter Pan comes knocking
on their window to retrieve his shadow which was cut off in
Off they go to Neverland to find Lost Boys, fight pirates
and confront the wicked Captain Hook. There is plenty of adventure,
swordfights, especially with Peter and Wendy showing their
derring-do. The Darling boys forget home. Wendy becomes an
honorary pirate. Where will it end, especially as Mrs Darling
sits vigil at their window night after night.
The question is: do they want to grow up? Is childhood in
Neverland the goal in life? It is best to be the eternal boy?
And, the invitation to the audience to join in and bring Tinkerbell
back to life: 'We believe in fairies'?
Jeremy Sumpter, a touch too American to be the perfect Peter
Pan, combines natural charm with a smirk that makes you wonder
who innocent he is and how manipulating he is. Rachel Hurd-Wood
is a lovely and vigorous Wendy. Ludivine Sagnier is a cheeky
(sometimes irritating) Tinkerbell. As in the theatre productions,
Mr Darling and Captain Hook are played by the same actor.
Jason Isaacs seems very meek as the children's father but
is more than lifesize as Hook. He showed he could do dastard
in The Patriot and the second Harry Potter film.
Perhaps the pudding has too many rich ingredients to make
it the satisfying delight that would be truly magical.