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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

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.

Alternatives:

Hook, Peter Pan

Summary

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

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