Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Peter Pan 2003

MPAA Rating: PG for adventure action sequences and peril

Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
STAFF WRITER

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Young children
Genre:
Action Adventure
Length:
1 hr. 45 min.
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
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Copyright, Universal Pictures

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Starring: Jason Isaacs, Olivia Williams, Lynn Redgrave, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Jeremy Sumpter | Directed by: P.J. Hogan | Produced by: Mohomad Al-Fayed, Lucy Fisher, Patrick McCormick, Amy Pascal, Douglas Wick | Based on play by J.M. Barrie | Cinematography by: Donald McAlpine | Production Design by: Roger Ford | Distributor: Universal Pictures

Most familiar stories retold on film “grow up” in some new way—except one. Apart from the advancement of added computer graphics, Peter Pan appears as a fly-by-night reproduction with a few starry moments of entertainment.

P.J. Hogan (Murielle’s Wedding) and Michael Goldenberg have adapted this screenplay from J.M. Barrie’s play, presenting a coming-of-age story for Wendy Darling (Rachel Hurd-Wood), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Darling (Jason Isaacs and Olivia Williams), and a neice to Aunt Millicent (Lynn Redgrave). This story stays fairly focused on Wendy, but seems scattered to various other characters at the end.

Accompanying Aunt Millicent’s encouragement for Wendy to grow up and receive her first kiss are the added pressures from her father telling her it’s time to grow up—not to mention the attention paid her by a boy who flies into her bedroom. From the beginning of the story, Wendy is pursuing her first kiss and endeavoring to grow out of her childhood. Hurd-Wood gives one of the best performances in the film, but the fact that she is so young makes it difficult—even uncomfortable—to believe she could be engaging in any kind of romance.

The character of Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) is also appropriately played by a young actor, but somehow doesn’t carry the command one might expect for the Pan. Sumpter does a fine job at the boyish qualities of Peter, but it was hard to fathom him being the stellar fighter who once cut off the hand of Captain Hook. When we actually do see Peter and Hook fight, there are some elements of danger, but it is more enjoyable to view it as a kid having fun.

Along these same lines of childlike fun are a few moments kids will enjoy. When Peter takes Wendy and her brothers John (Harry Newell) and Michael (Freddie Popplewell) off to Neverland, it is entertaining as they go flying through the sky—even space—to get there. The adventure of the story and the additional slapstick humor that is used will be some kick kids will get out of this flick.

Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs) is played by the same actor who plays the father, Mr. Darling. This may or may not be detected during viewing, but doesn’t seem to be alluded to in any way. If it is noticed early on, it might present some uneasiness as you watch both characters interact with Wendy. One thing that is obvious is that Mr. Darling and Hook are complete opposite personas.

Considering Hook is a pirate, the film did seem obliged to make sure he came across as mean and evil. However, although he had the look and dress for the “bad guy,” he didn’t seem to come across as scary. To emphasize his persona, there are a few jolting moments where Hook suddenly kills his crewmembers whenever they cross him. We would expect Hook to be this ruthless, but considering the childish feel of the rest of the film, it seems more unnerving than necessary.

Ludivine Sagnier gives a cute performance as Tinkerbell, with her larger-than-life facial expressions, while also conveying the jealousy she has of Wendy. One moment centered on “Tink” that was a bit odd was when everyone begins chanting to help revive her when she nearly dies. They say, “I believe in fairies” over and over again until she finally recovers. Perhaps it was supposed to move us like sports fans shouting “Rudy!”, but it came across as more wearisome.

Peter Pan is a very tender story, and this production seems to not do any harm to it. While it is everything you might expect, it does leave you a bit robbed of any cathartic experience. And even though there is some good distance between this Peter Pan and the popular film Hook, it feels the latter still outshines it.

Violence: Moderate | Profanity: None | Sex/Nudity: Minor

Year of Release—2003

For our other Peter Pan movie reviews see: Return to Never Land


Viewer Comments
Neutral—This “Peter Pan” will not be confused with the Disney version… it is darker and more troubling. Yet the message gets through…“I want to stay a child without adult supervision and with grown up responsibility.” I found it engaging and entertaining. The effects were well done and the emotions of the characters were ones I could identify with. There were several children… younger than 10… who were emotionally upset by the fight between Pan and Hook. There is a moment of death and resurrection that they were too young to understand. If you go to see Peter Pan as a family… leave those younger than ten with Disney’s version… this Pan is more grown up.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
— Jerry Teets, age 35
Negative—The effects were nice but I was a little disappointed that the relationship between Wendy and Peter was portrayed as more of a romance, which not only isn’t true to the book, it doesn’t play well in the movie. The fact that Wendy’s father and Captain Hook are played by the same character is ridiculous. Most people may not catch it, but it was rather odd. I found myself fighting sleep during this movie, however my kids enjoyed it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Ben Smith, age 37
Positive—I think this was a very good movie, considering that most movies now are not worth seeing because of profanity, sexual content, violence, and gross humor. If my children were under the age of 14 or 15, I might not have let them see this movie because of the one scene in which it shows the drawing that Wendy did of Peter Pan which shows him flying above her while she was in her bed…
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—Kathy Lowrey, age 49
Negative—…extremely disappointed. …The special effects were horrid and the plot dragged on. I left half way through because it was so boring. …The relationship between Peter/Wendy and Peter/the lost boys came across as very dark.
My Ratings: [Average/1]
—Kim, age 19
Positive—In a world full of immoral movies with objectionable themes, Peter Pan presents a classic tale full of the innocence of childhood. As for Hook/Mr.Darling being the same actor, it’s actually tradition. It has been done this way since its opening in London in 1904 and is very symbolic in nature. Peter Pan was a definite feel-good film which broadens the understanding between parents and children.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Scarlet Bennings, age 29
Negative—…My kids will not be seeing this movie. There are many scary and disturbing scenes, not the least of which Peter and Wendy try to get some information from some mermaids and one of the mermaids tries to pull her in and drown her. The general feeling of the movie is that children have a superior grasp on life than adults and particularly their parents.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Scott Stroud, age 35
Positive—I’ve been a fan of Peter Pan my entire life and was impressed to find that the movie stayed surpisingly close to the book. (The romance between Wendy and Peter was a little overdone, I agree.) Yes, the movie is a lot darker than the cartoon, but anyone who has read the book will tell you it has dark undertones. If you can manage to get past the fact that it is a children’s movie (which I hope you can), the story itself holds lessons for everyone.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Michelle, age 18
Negative—We left this movie ½ hour after it started. I was appalled that Hollywood has taken such a beautiful story and made it so dark. The prevailing word here is dark. Just in the first ½ hour of the movie, Captain Hook kills two of his pirates for not obeying his orders. The first time, he killed a pirate by stabbing him violently in the stomach with his hook. The second killing occurs when Captain hook shoots the pirate in the chest. This is the kind of casual, evil violence that I don’t allow my children to see. Also disturbing, there was a deliberate undercurrent of sexual tension between two children which made me very uncomfortable. It was more than just “young love” or a cute crush. I would not recommend this movie for any young children (under 13) or to any family that expects a wholesome portrayal of the original story.
My Ratings: [Average/5]
—Laura, age 36
Positive—…to my surprise that we all enjoyed it a lot. It was entertaining, well-acted, had some excellent special effects, contained little that was morally objectionable, and presented the concept that a loving family is to be desired above a lot of other things in life.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Pam
Positive—I wanted to point out to the reviewers of Peter Pan (2003) that mentioned it was inappropriate for Capitan Hook and Wendy’s father to be played by the same actor, in this case Jason Isaacs, that the reason this was done in the movie is because it has been tradition in the theater and past versions of the film for the two characters to be played by the same actor, perhaps to show a link between the figures of Wendy’s actual world and her fantasies. Can be seen here under the trivia section http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0316396/
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Dunicha, age 23
Comments from young people
Positive—This is a must see! I thought the special effects were excellent. It was first hard to find anything to watch in theaters, but it was the only thing. The begining was very interesting, but there was one scene in which one of Wendy’s brothers were running in the hall naked, but it was not offensive, for they did not show anything. Then, there was another scene like it, where the two brothers are only wearing their night clothes, and they were hanging upside-down. I thought it was funny.

…There is one scene where Wendy is shown in bed and Peter is floating above her. She gets in trouble at school, and her father is sent a letter. She tries to stop the deliverer giving him the letter, but she didn’t want to be honest, you could tell in her eyes. There is a kiss that Peter gets from Wendy, it is big and long. Then on of her brothers get kissed, even longer, and he is only about my age (12).

It was violent in parts. For example, Hook shoots two pirates, Peter gets a cut on his chest, and Hook gets eaten by an alligator. There was one part where Wendy turns herself in to the pirates (which made me remember of the betrayal of Jesus). But she comes back. I recommend this movie to Pre-Teens. It is violent, romantic, and has a lot of peril. I would not let anyone under at least 10 or 11 see it. It is one adventure that is appropriate for Christians, but I would rent the Cartoon (set out by Disney) for younger ones. I hope this helped you choose if you wanted to see it or not.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Taylor Lawrence, age 12
Positive—…Overall, I thought the film was pretty good. There were some really corny moments… sometimes I have a hard time swallowing those… yes, the chanting “I believe in fairies” got a little long and that was probably the corniest part in the movie. I honestly thought the acting was pretty good for the ages of most of the actors in the movie. I think this is a good one-time-see-in-the-theater sort of movie! You leave the theater with a good feeling… give it a try!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Sarah, age 17
Positive—Great movie! Extremely well made and really cool special effects. It stays very true to the book for the most part, and I loved the scenes they added. Wendy is so incredibly sweet and seems much older than she is (almost 13). She realizes that there’s more to life than having fun and sword fighting but she can’t quite put her finger on it till the end. Jeremy does very well portraying Peter’s cocky spirit and has you rooting for him the entire film. I don’t see what some people are saying about John and Michael being nude. I remember the scene showing them being snatched upside down and their shirts falling over their heads. There’s a lot of emphasis placed on the importance of a family and particularly the love of a mother. I’d recommend preveiwing for kids under 11 or 12 because of action and fighting.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
— Brittany Dyer, age 16
Positive—Excellent! Fabulous! …I’m still in awe of it! …I’m a big Peter Pan fan from way back, and I was so hoping that this movie would be as excellent as I expected. Indeed it was! I cannot find anything I believe objectionable (I couldn’t quite tell if at 1 point there was a profanity and there was a bit of partial nudity, but it was delivered in a funny way) …What was mentioned in the review is that Wendy is young (13, I’d say), but the film shows her in such an amazing light that it is so sweet and well delivered that you are happy that she is in love! You need to see this film to get the full impact, it’s incredible. It has so many levels: Wendy growing up, good against evil (obviously good wins!!), the importance of family, and many more. There are not enough good words to describe this AMAZING work!! …On a side note, the reason Jason Isaacs plays both Captain Hook and Mr. Darling is to show that you really don’t know whether Wendy is dreaming the whole adventure or not; please remember that she was angry with her father when she fell asleep that night. Also on that note, in all the other versions of Peter Pan that I know of (the 1950s Disney cartoon, Mary Martin version…) Captain Hook and Mr. Darling are played by the same actors as well…
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Noelle, age 16
Positive—I thought this film was wonderful… the watered-down Disney version (as well as several other unmentionables) follow the original play production only slightly. This film, however, captures in celluloid many moments from the stage. …Having participated in a stage production of “Peter Pan,” I appreciate the film as a worthy transfer of small stage to big screen, NOT a Disney knock-off.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Daniel Falter, age 17
Positive—I thought that this movie was overall entertaining and enjoyable. It took the story of Peter Pan and put it into a different way, compared to other Peter Pan movies made in the past. The only thing that could of been left out of the movie, in my opinion, was the scene where John and Michael are hanging upside down and their bare backsides are showing. I didn’t find that necessary… I would not take any young children (like some of my younger cousins) to see this movie, due to the violence. Some of the scenes may scare a younger audience. Again, overall the movie was pretty good.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Molly, age 13
Negative—I didn’t like this film… none under 13 should see it. There was nudity on Michael’s and John’s part, and kids 13 under kissed… The good was the action sequences.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Garrett, age 11
Positive—…really enjoyed it. Peter Pan is very selfish and does not think of anyone else. This is the reason for not growing up, and not taking responsibility for anything. Wendy on the other hand is the hero, She realizes that she could stay in Neverland and just have fun, or grow up and not be a little kid anymore. She realizes that even though she likes flying around with fairies, and pretending that she is mother to a lot of motherless children (the lost boys) that there is more to life. That her Mother needs her. And that she cannot be like this forever. The movie to me was a lot of really great special effects, along with Wendy trying to make the decision. Wether to grow up and take responsibility or to stay a little child in Neverland with no parents. There are some mild fighting scenes that could scare little kids. And also a scene with the evil mermaids that was kind of dark. At one point she does kiss Peter (he is dying) and saves his life. Overall it was very well done. I would recommend this film for a child or teenager over 12 years old.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Alana Cruise, age 13
Neutral—This movie is alright… better than the Peter Pan w/ too much kiddie stuff in it. Some parts were put in for the younger kids, but to me I thought they were kinda corny, like the part where the chant “I do believe in faeries, I do, I do.” The romance between Wendy and Peter is sweet, but they were trying way too hard to have them kiss. It’s so hard to not be sad, because you know at the end that Wendy and Peter won’t be together. So they should have left the romance out, besides kids at that age shouldn’t be into that kind of thing yet.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Diandra, age 13
Positive—I loved it! …overall I think it was good. I’ve been a Peter Pan fan since as long as I can remember. It was one of the first books that I ever read. The movie was enchanting, delightful, and entertaining! Jeremy Sumpter did a wonderful job as Peter, and Rachael Hurd-Wood was beyond wonderful. She did a rather “grown-up” job as Wendy. She was the real hero, or heroine, I should say. Wendy knew that she could either stay in Neverland and be a kid forever, with no responsibilities or worries about grown-up things, or she could return home, and be with her parents, and grow up like every kid should. The prospect of not having parents affected her the most, and I think it was really sweet about how she realized that all though not having to grow up and have responsibilities, her mother and father needed her, John, and Michael. I really like the seen where they chant “I DO BELIEVE IN FAIRIES, I DO, I DO!” It reminds me of a football game. I think they put that in to rile the sports fans up, and I must say it worked. I myself am not very interested in football, but the chant definitely got me to thinking, “What if fairies do exist?” Very interesting, very good, I think it was a very delightful film. The swordfighting was almost as rich and exciting as those of “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Hook does a wonderfuingl job of Barbossa, and Peter does a wonderful job of Jack, except he doesn’t cheat. But all though it is very entertain, I only recommend it to kids at least eight years of age.
My Ratings: [Better than Averae/5]
—Cassie, age 10
Positive—…very good, Peter looked great (good looking). I think this film is more for older people (over 10) for it may scare younger people like the pit with the mermaids…
My Ratings: [4]
—Kim, age 12