PETER PAN is a wonderfully crafted movie that intentionally emphasizes the fantasy elements of the story both in dialogue and design of the movie (i.e., many of the scenes look more fanciful than realistic). Furthermore, the movie is done with a very deft direction to highlight the moral aspects of the story and minimize problematic behavior and other elements. Thus, the movie respects the original story. Moreover, the casting is terrific.
For most people who don’t know the story, the Darling family lives in a little row house in London. Mr. Darling is a bank clerk who seems overwhelmed by his job. Mrs. Darling tries to explain that Mr. Darling has dreams, but he has courageously sacrificed them for his children. Wendy, the 13-year-old daughter, spends her time telling fanciful pirate yarns to her younger brothers Michael and John.
One day, they’re visited, perhaps in their dreams, by Peter Pan. In the first visit, he loses his shadow. When he comes back, he convinces Wendy to come with him to Neverland. There, the Darling children go on a rousing adventure with the lost boys, Indians, and pirates, led by the infamous Captain Hook, played by Jason Isaacs who also plays Mr. Darling.
Wendy has fallen in love with Peter, but Peter never wants to grow up, so he refuses to admit he loves Wendy. The storyline culminates in a wonderful ending, which may bring tears to your eyes.
This PETER PAN is as well made as the Disney animated movie and as heartrending as the play, which I used to watch as a young boy while my father was playing in AUNTIE MAME on Broadway. Underneath the fantasy is a coming-of-age story and a girl’s first love. The director is to be applauded for having kept this underlying storyline innocent and pure. Part of the first love syndrome, however, is the jealousy of the father, who also plays Captain Hook. Thus, beneath the surface of the story, there are some interesting psychological battles taking place.
Although PETER PAN mentions several times that it’s a fantasy and make-believe, and emphasizes this in the movie’s design, parents should help children understand that these characters of the imagination are not real. Little children also may be too scared of some of the frightening moments in the movie. Certainly, one reviewer was. Perhaps the only over the top element is the fact that Captain Hook maliciously and casually shoots about four of his pirates.
In other ways, the movie is very moral. It supports families, loving one another, innocence, fathers, and has lots of wonderful messages about growing up and other important issues.
It is interesting to note that J. M. Barrie, who wrote the stage play and the book, gave the rights to a children’s home that was strongly evangelical. Whether he did this out of love for children or the Church or both is unknown.
Besides the wonderful direction, the cast is to be commended, especially Jason Isaacs who plays the father and Captain Hook. He brings Hook alive and gives him a depth of character, which is wonderful to behold.
All the children look British, whether they are or not. Rachel Hurd-Wood, who plays Wendy, is a terrific young actress. And, Jeremy Sumpter is Peter Pan. In fact, everything in the film works together to produce an entertaining movie that passes too quickly.
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SUMMARY: PETER PAN is a wonderfully crafted, morally uplifting movie that intentionally emphasizes the fantasy elements of the story both in dialogue and design of the film. For those who don’t know the story, one night Peter Pan and Tinkerbell whisk the Darling children, Wendy, John, and Michael, away to Neverland, where go on a rousing adventure with the lost boys, Indians, and pirates, led by the infamous Captain Hook.
(BBB, Pa, V, N) Very strong moral worldview set in a fantasy world with some deeper family and psychological themes, with brief pagan element Indian medicine woman appeals to spirit to “heal” Teddy Bear; no foul language; some scary situations which even scared older reviewer in theater and violence such as sword fighting, knocking people down, and pirate casually shoots several of his men when they disobey him; kissing; obscured rear nudity of boys, upper male nudity, and Tinkerbell shakes her rear-end; and, nothing else objectionable.
GENRE: Fantasy Adventure