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Peter PanPeter Pan

Starring: Jeremy Sumpter, Jason Issacs, Rachel Hurd Wood, Richard Briers, Lynn Redgrave, Olivia Williams and Ludivine Sagnier
Directed by: P.J. Hogan
Written by: J.M. Barrie and interpreted by P.J. Hogan

Peter Pan really is a boy! See, in all the prior Peter Pans to date he's either been waifish women or a middle-aged man. Here, the studio decided to cast the part correctly and actually follow the story as its author had written. Does it work? Oh, yes indeed.

Story goes…. Wendy Darling (Rachel Hurd Wood) and her brothers are adventurous sorts. Though, as clever as their tales of pirates and other lands are their imaginations take them only so far away from their attic bedroom walls.

That is until one evening Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) stumbles across them - and particularly Wendy…

He convinces Wendy - to the chagrin of Tinkerbell (
Ludivine Sagnier) his trusty fairy companion - to join him and his Lost Boys in his world called Neverland. He assures her it's a land of great fun and hearty adventure. She will follow if her little brothers can join.

Their first lesson in a Neverland necessity? The fairy dust one needs to fly as Neverland is up over the heavens you know. Tinkerbell reluctantly agrees to shed some pixels upon Peter's new friends and faster than you can say, "Mary had a little la…" the excited little group is off.

Neverland is a sanctuary for children who prefer to stay clear of adult requirements. Theirs is a picturesque world with a healthy smattering of Maxfield Parrish with a pinch of Willy Wonka in a kaleidoscopic scape of mountains and rainforrests to run about in playing indians or warriors while secretly longing for someone to call mommie.

Dear Peter it seems, in his excitement, neglected a bit of brochure worthy info on Neverland. He has this pesky till-the-death battle raging with the notorious Cap't Hook (Jason Isaacs). He and this Hook fellow go way back. And now that Pan's back Hook sets sails for the lad and our imaginations set sail with them.

Commence the adventure!

The problem in the film - and what keeps it from a four star offering - is the lead Jeremy Sumpter. While absolutely the visual image of Pan he's lacking in the version our minds have always created. He's a bit monotoned, while Pan is lightning in a bottle; a bubbling boy bursting with charisma. Sumpter serves up a kind of Ritalin© version of Pan. And speaking of lightening in a bottle ….I'd like to trap that annoying Tinkerbell in a bottle and store her in a cabinet far far away. Admittedly I've yet to see a non-animated version of Tink that didn't play like nine-inch nails on a chalkboard. But, Ludivine Sagnier brings a new level of spastic to the role - horrible.

On the plus side? The film follows the real story J.M. Barrie originally intended, right down to the eerie mermaids and the less-than-kind pirates aboard Hook's ship. This is a child's film - but in an old-fashioned Bros. Grimm spooky villians way. Also the choice of Neverland's oranges and blues really gave the place its needed otherworldly bits one thrives on to fuel the imagination properly.

There's these frank longing pauses and looks between young Wendy and Peter that capture that first undying love glare young folks tend to have when first bitten firmly on the arse by the Smit bug. Theirs is as strong as any of us remember, but fear not, it's innocent enough the wee ones wont be thrown into a rated R arena on you.

Jason Isaac's plays a mean Cap't Hook; literally and figuratively. He's positively oozing sinister even in frilly velvet garbs that would make Elton John shamrock with envy. If pirates were this hot - and not sponsoring festing wounds as in real history - a gal might just contemplate playing pirate herself for a few years…

The star of the film is really the beautiful Rachel Hurd Wood who plays Wendy. She's every little girl as Barrie intended. He knew that while society expected women to want for careers as moms and dutiful wives, gals really just wanted to pounce from tree to tree and buckle some swashes next to the boys, and still wear frilly pretty thingyies.

Bluntly speaking? Peter Pan's a fun enough journey and when it's good it's great.

Snack recommendation: Pancakes stacked high with chocolate chips and maple syrup with mounds of whipped cream - and a crate of apples…oh wait, that was this years other pirate starring film….

The Emilyism©


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