Peter Pan (2003) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Starring: Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Sumpter, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Olivia Williams, Ludivine Sagnier

Director: P J Hogan

“To die would be an awfully big adventure” – so says Peter Pan to an increasingly angry Captain Hook as their duelling reaches a climax and the croc hungrily waits for his chance. Brace yourselves for this swashbuckling adventure which will capture everyone’s imagination with its enchanting, exquisite and escapist qualities in this faithful adaptation of J M Barrie’s classic tale PETER PAN …or ‘Peter and Wendy’ as it was originally entitled.

While Wendy Darling’s (Rachel Hurd-Wood) overactive imagination dwells on pirates and sword fighting as she acts out her stories with the help of her two brothers – John (Harry Newell) who’s fanatical about Napoleon and the younger one Michael (Freddie Popplewell) – their antics land them in trouble with their parents (Jason Isaacs and Olivia William) and Aunt Millicent (Lynn Redgrave) who agree that it is time she grew up. By contrast it attracts the attention of a boy called Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) who flies from Neverland with a fairy, Tinker Bell (Ludivine Sagnier), to listen to her stories and refuses to grow up. The two meet when Peter returns to Wendy and the boys bedroom in search of his troublesome, lost shadow which Wendy obliging sews back on for him.

Peter entrances Wendy and persuades her to return with him to Neverland, an enchanted world free of adults’ rules, to battle together with his Lost Boys against Captain Hook (the excellent Jason Isaacs) of the pirate ship the Jolly Roger. Wendy, John and Michael bid Nana (their faithful St Bernard dog and nursery minder) goodbye and showered with Tinker Bell’s magical dust they take to the skies on an adventure to Neverland.

Is this one of Wendy’s wildest dreams as she says an emotional and sad goodbye to her childhood or is it because their father was really cross with them and they are truly escaping with Peter Pan to the magical world of Neverland?

The movie’s pace and action, admirably directed by P J Hogan who also co-wrote the film, keeps going the whole way through. Add to this the attention to detail of the costumes, sets and the CGI effects, PETER PAN is truly inspirational and will take an audience whatever their age on a magical experience firing their imagination to perfection.

The ensemble cast mentioned above are all outstanding, in addition to a very comical Smee played by Richard Briers (UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, THE GOOD LIFE TV series) as Captain Hook’s right-hand/hook man on the Jolly Roger. For the first time a male acts the part of Peter Pan and Jeremy Sumpter really excels here as does newcomer Rachel Hurd-Wood in her first ever acting role who was discovered on a worldwide open-casting call.

This is a wonderful opportunity to escape to Neverland.

6 out of 6 stars