The millionth adaptation of the iconic kids epic written by J.M. Barrie gets a more faithful, loyal, and perhaps a darker edgier tone this time with the contemporary version directed by P.J. Hogan of “Muriel’s Wedding” who gives incredible and stunning direction this time around providing very entertaining adventure fare for all ages. I love the story of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie created a timeless allegory about the child in everyone, and how it’s always good to reconnect with the magic that made childhood so amazing, not to mention it’s a damn fun fairy tale. P.J. Hogan whose filmography consists mostly of low-key films creates an stunning landscape with Neverland that I haven’t seen in years.
“Peter Pan” is a magical adventure for any child looking for escapism, and Hogan gives it to people with amazing special effects, mine being when the kids are going to Neverland the first time, and he even manages to make early twentieth century London look magical, with a story that is altogether funny, exciting, and heartbreaking. When Wendy says goodbye to Peter, in turn, she’s saying goodbye to her childhood and entering into adulthood, it’s a universal theme for any movie-goer. “Peter Pan” is the inner child that never lets go, the child in us all who wants to fight pirates and fly and sweep through amazing adventures, and Wendy is one who wants to move on.
This is one of few films that depict Peter Pan with an actual young boy actor instead of a woman, and in his boots is actor Jeremy Sumpter who is great as Peter Pan, possibly the best I’ve seen in years. Charismatic, heroic, cocky, charming and believable, he’s a lot of fun to watch here and pulls off the personality of Pan with a lot of zeal. Sumpter, a basically unknown actor is in good form here as the boy who refuses to grow up. Alongside him is Tinkerbell, or Tink as he calls her (possibly for risk of copyright infringement in Disney’s death grip on all these fairy tales). Tink is played by the sexy French siren Ludivine Sagnier (Whom I plan on marrying someday, it’s on my list!) who is his very mischievous devious fairy friend who pals around with him and get furiously jealous of Wendy. Miming her role here, Ludivine is great to watch and sexy as always. Sagnier is great as tinkerbell as the spunky and very zealous pixie who is never away from Pan.
She’s adorable, and there are scenes here that I loved, especially when she manages to trick the lost boys into shooting Wendy down and while Peter interrogates her she proclaims her innocence with a fairy dust halo, and then turns red with horns. It’s a lovely touch from Hogan who just invokes astounding imagination that kids will eat up with a spoon, and Sagnier adds to the magic. Then there’s newcomer Rachel Hurd Wood, as the very cute who is basically the quintessential actress to play her due to her rosy cheeks, wide eyed exuberance, and charismatic performance alongside Sumpter. They have a lot of good chemistry together, and they’re great to watch. Now I’ve never read “Peter Pan” but I highly doubt there was a sequence, such as in this film, where tinkerbell farts in someone’s face as she does here.
That one scene alone basically reflects the modern sensibility with its reaching for toilet humor through its mischievous fairy Tinkerbell. I’m pretty sure it was an appalling gesture to fart in that day and age of author J.M. Barrie’s time, so I doubt Tink farted. Also, there is a noticeable under usage of Ludivine Sagnier, a risqué actress known by some film-goers for her performance in “Swimming Pool”, a role that also made me an instant devotee to this red-haired goddess.
Though she manages to take a more childish role here, she’s noticeably dialed down and not as featured here, which is a shame, because while she’s very sexual, she’s also a very good actress, and Tinkerbell is a really important character–oh, who am I kidding? I wanted to see more of her, I admit it, okay? There’s an impressive range of a supporting cast including the always good Lynn Redgrave, the beautiful Olivia Williams as Wendy’s mom, and Jason Isaacs who carries on the tradition of Peter Pan performances by playing both the father and the infamous Captain Hook. Isaacs is very good here as the menacing pirate who is never campy and always menacing. The writers add an extra touch this time with turning Hook manipulative as well and he’s good at it. Isaacs is creepy with jagged hook and a devious gleam.
Hogan accentuates the menacing mood of Isaacs, the innocence of Wood, and the charisma of Sumpter three fold with his magical depiction of never never land, a phenomenal land only helped by amazing special effects, and cinematography by Donald McAlpine, and kids will love the action here with amazing flying sequences and swordplay your kids will surely love. Too weird at times, and more violent than I’d imagined brings this from a potential four down to a three, but this is nonetheless an exciting adventure, and yet another great adaptation of “Peter Pan”. Great performances, rollicking action and excitement, and a beautiful story kids will surely love.