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Peter Pan (2003)

Let the fight begin

Directed by:

P.J. Hogan

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 113 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

Country: United States

Piracy”, according to that overly-dramatic ad that always pops up before the rest of the trailers, takes jobs, funds terrorism and will eventually cause society as we know it to crumble around our very feet in a pile of copyright-protected ashes. But if there’s one thing that 2003 has taught us, it’s that there’s still room in the public imagination for the other sort of pirates. The ones more concerned with parrots and planks than sneakily making copies of the occasional DVD.

So, having yelled “shiver me timbers” at Johnny Depp and Co. in Pirates of the Caribbean, and wished for a patch to cover BOTH eyes whilst sitting through the abysmal Treasure Planet, we now get “Peter Pan”. It’s a sumptuous, colourful live action adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic novel – but does it live up to Disney’s animated version from 1953? Or even Steven Spielberg’s massively disappointing “Hook” from 1991?

Well, whatever your age, it’ll certainly grab your attention. Aussie director P.J. Hogan injects his film with sparkling special effects, some terrific fairy dust-aided swashbuckling and a great atmospheric soundtrack from James Newton Howard. The acting, too, is decent, with Jeremy Sumpter making a reasonable Pan, Rachel Hurd-Wood commanding her scenes as Wendy, and Jason Isaacs a wickedly-enjoyable Captain Hook. Also look out for Olivia “Below” Williams as the mumsie Mrs Darling, Harry Pure Eden as one of those pesky Lost Boys, and Ludivine Swimming Pool Sagnier as a slightly annoying Tinkerbell.

On the downside, many younger kids might find it too drawn-out (it takes much longer than necessary to get to Neverland), and parents should note there’s more violence than might be expected. Most worrying of all, a thick stream of extremely uncomfortable sexual tension runs through the film, with the two under-age leads asked to exchange a few too many longing glances for this reviewer’s liking.

Bringing this out just a week after The Return of the King is a risky move, but if you’re after a slightly less heavy-going adventure tail to take the kids along to this festive season, you shouldn’t be disappointed with “Peter Pan”.

It's Got: A giant ticking croc, and the world’s scraggiest parrot.

It Needs: Cap’n Hook to pick on someone his own size.


Hook, Peter Pan


Not up to the standard of the Disney version, but magnificently put together and just about exciting enough to satisfy viewers of all ages.

One Comment

  1. Posted March 17, 2011 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    “Peter Pan” (2003) by P.J. Hogan This story about the clash between good-looking and good-hearted children and the ugly and evil adults (not evil adults in the movie are just stupid and laughable) continues to mesmerize viewers of all ages. Children identify with their victorious peers on the bright-colored screen while adults don’t identify with Pirate Captain Hook – the villain and monster: they don’t understand that Hook is the embodiment of how they‘re perceived by children’s unconscious, and the child inside them easily overrides their adultness – the film makes them forget their age). The film is about the imaginary victory of childish idealism over the Capt. Hooky reality of the power of adults (armed in real life with physical strength, authority, money and weapon). In this sense it is a reflection of today’s mass culture (created by adults making money on infantile tastes through consumerism, playfulness and entertainment) – an artificial world which children and teenagers in their Peter-Panness are enjoying without any intervention of Pirates Hooks. But mass culture is a creation of Pirates. And in real life Pirates do intervene in children’s mass cultural paradise (with invented wars, financial meltdowns, toxic pollutants released into the natural environment, firing (children’s) fathers and mothers, and this is only the beginning. This intervention can be prevented (or at least met with resistance) only if our children will learn about the real life, the world of adults. This effective learning will be impossible if children don’t like real life – don’t like it more than items for consumption. It is exactly what movies like PP will prevent the growing children from being able to feel by radically distracting them from being interested in real adulthood, in human life in society and history. In life Captains Hooks look like children’s admired role models, for example like generals, athletes and the rich financial leaders. PP is a masterful combination of child abuse (abuse of children audience) and exploitation of recent cinematic technology with its irresistible gimmicks and special effects which make movie more real and more pleasant than reality. The producers and director want us to be hooked on their movie like on drug in order to return to it again and again (with more money). The basic idea of PP is that children’s ability to dream makes them superior to adults. And its basic metaphor is the ability to fly (personified by Peter Pan). The ability of dreamers to fly is transformed by the film into viewers’ virtual experience of flying through the use of special effects. After encounter with the movie kids will never forgive the boring reality outside for being so prosaic and dull. For the commercial success of movies like PP whole society already has started to pay the price in the form of unwillingness and inability of especially the young people to like and to understand real human life. Commercially entertaining cinema industry feeds on our beliefs/prejudices, pre-thinking emotional perceptions, paranoia/phobias, etc. and nurtures them in viewers. On the other hand, there are films that are dedicated to helping children-viewers to understand the nature of the adulthood and childhood, and what life in a society is really about. Among these films: “My Life as a Dog” by Lasse Hallstrom, “Slingshot” by Ake Sandgren, “Butterfly” by Jose Luis Cuerda, “Twist and Shout” by Bille August, and “L’Effrontee” by Claude Miller.
    By Victor Enyutin

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