Peter Pan Review

by Susan Granger (ssg722 AT aol DOT com)
December 29th, 2003

Susan Granger's review of "Peter Pan" (Universal Pictures)
    Australian filmmaker P.J. Hogan gives a distinctively contemporary twist to J.M. Barrie's classic tale by focusing more on Wendy than on Peter. This is her adventure as much as it is his.
    Set in moonlit Victorian London in the cozy nursery of the Darling family home, the tale begins as 12 year-old Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood) gleefully relates the fanciful exploits of Peter Pan and Captain Hook to her younger brothers John (Harry Newell) and Michael (Freddie Popplewell). Unbeknownst to her, Peter (Jeremy Sumpter) is listening too, just outside the window. He loves to hear her stories. So when Wendy's repressive parents (Jason Isaacs, Olivia Williams) and starched aunt (Lynn Redgrave) insist that she leave her carefree childhood behind and prepare for womanhood, she decides to fly off with her brothers and perpetually young Peter - courtesy of magical fairy dust sprinkled by jealous, squeaking Tinkerbell. (Ludivine Sagnier). In Neverland, the Lost Boys are waiting, along with the pirates, led by villainous Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs) and the sly Smee (Richard Briers), plus there's this huge, menacing crocodile. This is the first live-action "Peter Pan" since the 1924 silent film, altbhough many remember the TV-special starring Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard. Despite some uneven acting, P.J. Hogan remains faithful to novelist J.M. Barrie's literary duality, augmenting the narrative with visuals: flamboyant, high-flying action and eye-popping CGI sequences. And, for the first time, Peter is played a real boy, which allows a subtle undercurrent of awkward, adolescent romance in his relationship with Wendy. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Peter Pan" is an energetic, exhilarating 8. It's a familiar fantasy that's gloriously gift-wrapped for the whole family.

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