Back Rowe Reviews
Real Time Movie Reviews from the Back Row of a Theater

Peter Pan (PG)

Directed by: P.J. Hogan
Starring: Jeremy Sumpter
December 2003

“Return to a Dry Well”

This new, live-action spin on J.M. Barrie’s classic tale,
Peter Pan boasts a solid cast of virtually unknown actors. Two performances stand out above the others; Jeremy Sumpter, who plays the title role and Jason Isaacs, whose dual role as Mr. Darling and Captain Hook is one of the few highlights of the movie. From a dramatic standpoint, this new movie features the best version of Hook ever committed to film—Isaacs’ portrayal of the sinister pirate captain is darker and subtler than any previous attempt, but the petulant Hook in Disney’s animated Peter Pan and Dustin Hoffman’s scheming and foreboding figure in Hook were both more amusing and more memorable than this year’s model.

Who the heck is P.J. Hogan?

The big question is, “Why do we need another remake of this story?” We have the aforementioned Disney’s
Peter Pan and Hook, and the recent straight-to-video flop, “Return to Neverland,” plus a cartoon series in the early nineties and a slew of story variations on stage. Truth is, it’s been done before and it’s been done better. There are only a few story elements that don’t come off like stale toast (or crumpets). There’s a nice touch at the beginning of the movie when Mr. Darling tries to impress his boss and bumbles all over himself—quite amusing. The reunion of the Darling children with their mother at the end of the movie packs a surprisingly emotional punch and is probably the most touching dénouement of any Peter Pan.

Special Effects:
There’s a very creative scene where Peter and the Darling children are spying on the Jolly Roger from up in the clouds and the pirate ship starts firing cannon balls through the clouds—great visual. The worst effect in the film is Hook’s bane; the crocodile’s movements look extremely unbelievable and unnatural in this shoddy piece of CGI. The best, and most beautiful, effect in the movie is in the forest, where an entire community of ferries dance and flit about like fireflies against the night sky.

Final Analysis:
If we ever return to Neverland, it will be far too soon.

Rating: 2