Peter Pan Review

by Steve Rhodes (Steve DOT Rhodes AT InternetReviews DOT com)
December 29th, 2003

A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****): ** 1/2

The colorful sets and sumptuous cinematography for the new live action version of PETER PAN are absolutely magical. The movie, by writer/director P.J. Hogan (MURIEL'S WEDDING), is based on the famous musical with one major, glaring exception -- all of the wonderful songs and music are gone. What's next? OKLAHOMA! without the musical numbers? With the stunning success of CHICAGO last Christmas, the decision to skip the tunes this time is a strange one.
So what does Hogan's version offer in place of songs? Surprisingly, it offers raw sensuality. Many parents may not know quite what to think of a sexually-charged version of PETER PAN. I know I didn't. The young teenage leads look like preteens who are rapidly coming to grips with their exploding sexuality. Granted not much happens other than a few kisses and an accidentally sexual drawing, but, if you can't see what is going on just below the surface, you'll want to get your eyes checked. Male model Jeremy Sumpter, a sandy-haired kid with a slightly androgynous look, plays Peter Pan, the boy who refuses to grow up. He spends the whole movie running around without a lot of clothes on. Rachel Hurd-Wood, a pretty young actress with bee-sting lips and a big toothy smile, plays Wendy Darling, Peter's pretend wife. As they share many moments cheek to cheek, it's completely clear what is really on their minds.

What works best in the movie, in addition to the striking appearance of cotton-candy clouds and sparkling lights, are a couple of the supporting performances. Jason Isaacs gives a spirited rendition of Captain Hook. On the downside, he makes Mr. Darling into too much of a buffoon. Best of all is French sexpot Ludivine Sagnier (SWIMMING POOL) as a scene stealing Tink. The only problem is that Tink never gets the screen time that she deserves.
If you're looking for a sex-charged fairy tale, full of magical images, you won't be disappointed. But, if you're looking for the charm of the original, you won't find much of it in Hogan's version. Still, I suspect that most preteen girls will adore this movie.

PETER PAN runs a long 1:45. The film is rated PG for "adventure action sequences and peril" and would be acceptable for kids around 9 and up.
The film opens nationwide in the United States on Christmas Day, 2003. In the Silicon Valley, it will be showing at the AMC and the Century theaters.
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