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Peter Pan (PG)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Learning To Fly; Deleted scene and alternate ending; Board The Pirate Ship; Tinker Bell: Behind The Fairy Dust; Me and My Shadow; Lost Boys On The Set; Complete Tour of Neverland; Regions 2/4.

JM Barrie’s classic children’s tale, Peter Pan, first premiered on a London stage 100 years ago, so to mark its centenary, cinema audiences are now treated to what is being described as the first fully-realised movie version.

And it’s a lavish affair, which consistently entertains, thanks to some winning performances from its adult cast, who serve to ensure that it won’t just be the children who are Hook-ed.

Jeremy Sumpter stars as the boy who never grew up, who whisks Rachel Hurd-Wood’s Wendy Darling and her two brothers off to Never Never Land for a series of adventures, while trying to avoid the attentions of his nemesis, Captain Hook.

But while the children do a credible job of keeping things lively, it’s the adults who steal the show, with Jason Isaacs on suitably sneering form, as the scheming Captain Hook, and Richard Briers typically excellent as his bumbling assistant, Smee.

Director, PJ Hogan (of Muriel’s Wedding fame), proves quite adept at keeping things spellbinding for the really young, while remaining true to the origins of the story, and injects a great deal of verve and imagination into his set pieces.

The film looks stunning, throughout, from the early scenes, in London, to the children’s flight to Never Never Land, while all of the classic elements which made Barrie’s story so timeless remain intact, complete with the ticking crocodile, who has developed a fondness for Hook’s flesh.

Whereas Steven Spielberg sought to gain mileage by making the story contemporary, and having Peter Pan grow up (in the form of Robin Williams), Hogan seems content to keep things traditional, and it is the old-fashioned approach which serves it so well.

And while Sumpter’s Peter Pan may appear more cocky and self-centred than cheeky and likeable, his performance didn’t seem to trouble the children at the press preview, who lapped up his swashbuckling endeavours with gleeful abandon.

The film is actually at its weakest when left to the children, despite a plucky turn from Hurd-Wood, largely because of Peter Pan’s blandness, but it comes alive in the presence of Isaacs, who embraces the spirit of the role with relish.

Whether plotting his next move with Briers’ Smee, or mixing it up with Peter Pan himself, Isaacs makes the role his own, so much so that adults may actually find themselves rooting for him!

And Briers excels, too, capturing the look of Smee perfectly, and delivering the movie’s one show-stopping line, which, quite literally, brought the house down at the screening.

Ludivine Sagnier, as the mischievous fairy, Tinkerbell, also appears to be having fun in her tiny role.

With Harry Potter ducking out of the limelight this Christmas, Peter Pan looks to be the children’s ticket for anyone not old enough to see The Lord of the Rings. It does an efficient job of ensuring that Barrie’s classic story can be enjoyed by a new generation.

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