Peter Pan

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Rating: PG

Starring:
Jason Isaacs as Mr. Darling/Captain Hook
Jeremy Sumpter as Peter Pan
Rachel Hurd-Wood as Wendy Darling
Lynn Redgrave as Aunt Millicent
Richard Briers as Smee
Olivia Williams as Mrs. Darling
Geoffrey Palmer as Sir Edward Quiller Couch
Harry Newell as John Darling
Freddie Popplewell as Michael Darling
Ludivine Sagnier as Tink
Theodore Chester as Slightly
Rupert Simonian as Tootles
George MacKay as Curly
Harry Eden as Nibs
Patrick Gooch as Twin
Lachlan Gooch as Twin

Special Features:
Darling House: Alternate Ending, Deleted Scenes, Me & My Shadow, In the Dog House with Nana

Neverland Forest: Explore the Forest, Tinkerbell: Behind the Fairy Dust, I Do Believe in Fairies, and Princess Tiger Lily

Black Castle: Enter the Castle, Learning to Fly, The Mermaids Tale, DVD-Rom

Pirates’ Ship: Board the Pirate Ship, Through the Eyes of Captain Hook, The Pirates vs. The Lost Boys, The Lost Pirate Song

Home Under The Ground: Dig Under the Home, The Legacy of Pan, Hosted by Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess’s Outtakes, Lost Boys on the Set!

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.40:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Language Track
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 1 Hour 54 minutes

Synopsis:
This movie is based on the play by J.M. Barrie.

Unless you’ve been forced to live under the stairs by your evil aunt and uncle all your life, then you already know what Peter Pan is about. However, this is slightly different from the animated Disney version that you may be familiar with. Politically incorrect references to Indians have been removed in favor or more blood and violence.

Peter Pan is rated PG for adventure action sequences and peril.

The Movie:
There have been so many adaptations of Peter Pan that I had to wonder why anyone would even attempt to do a live action version of the story. I really hated Steven Spielberg’s sequel (of sorts) Hook. I also always thought Disney had already delivered the definitive version of Peter Pan. And with the way Michael Jackson has brought new meaning to “Neverland”, the idea seemed “iffy” at best. However, this live action version ends up being probably the best Peter Pan movie ever made.

First off, the movie looks fantastic. The sets are amazing and the effects are wonderful. While they don’t do anything groundbreaking as far as technology, the effects are used to create beautiful and striking fantasy images. When Peter Pan and the kids fly to Neverland at “lightspeed”, you see dozens of planets around as if in a child’s depiction of space. They then arrive in what looks like a lake of stars. It was quite cool. Another scene later on features dozens of fairies dancing at a ball. Again, it’s nothing groundbreaking yet beautiful nevertheless. The rest of the movie is filled with these moments where the CGI is really being used as art.

I’ve never read the original play by J.M. Barrie, so I don’t know how closely the movie follows it. I imagine this version is probably more faithful. However, there are a lot of differences from the Disney version. For example, we see a lot more of Wendy’s father and his life as a banker. We get a lot greater sense of her parent’s heartbreak at the kid’s disappearance. Gone are any songs about going to fight the “injuns”. In fact, that Indians in the movie are barely seen, yet still treated with respect. The mermaids no longer look like Ariel, but instead are creepy monsters ready to drown Wendy. We also see more and more fairies besides just Tinkerbell. Overall, these changes make the movie a bit more interesting because it departs from what you’re expecting or used to seeing.

The acting in the film is first rate. Newcomer Rachel Hurd-Wood stars as Wendy Darling. This is her first feature film and she does a wonderful job. The whole story revolves around her and would sink or swim depending on her performance. Fortunately, she does the job well. She acts like the girl on the brink of womanhood and she’s able to transition from maturity to childishness with ease. Jeremy Sumpter is also good as Peter Pan. You can probably expect him to become the new heartthrob for pre-teen girls everywhere. Jason Isaacs is also excellent as both Mr. Darling and Captain Hook. He does this balancing act very well. He keeps Captain Hook menacing while never making him too scary. He also never goes over-the-top like Dustin Hoffman or the Disney version. Isaacs also manages to be warm and friendly as the father. The supporting cast is also excellent. It’s fun to see Lynn Redgrave again as Aunt Millicent. Richard Briers provides wonderful comic relief as Smee. I’m a big fan of Olivia Williams, so I enjoyed her role as Mrs. Darling. The spunky Tinkerbell is also perfectly played by French actress Ludivine Sagnier.

On the down side, the film is violent at times. Captain Hook cuts Pan’s chest with his hook. The alligator is scary for kids and may freak little ones out. At one point Pan and Wendy pretend to be the parents of the Lost Boys and he talks about how he’s going to kill the children for being bad. He proceeds to chase them around with a sword pretending to try and stab them. If things like that didn’t happen in reality it might seem more like child-like play. The reaction of the parents is also that of grieving parents of kidnapped children. Again, it strikes a little close to reality.

The film also stooped to some lowbrow humor. Tinkerbell farts in the general direction of Wendy. When the boys are caught in a trap and suspended in air, we are treated to a glimpse of their bare butts as Tiger Lily giggles at the view from the front. While these will undoubtedly be big hits with children, I didn’t think the story needed them.

I also wasn’t particularly fond of the ending where Peter can only beat Hook if he knows Wendy loves him. Not only was it sappy and sugary sweet, it made Pan way too dependent on Wendy in order to save the day. However, that’s just my own personal view. I think the story still works well.

The Extras:
There are quite a few extras included on the DVD and they are a nice mix of things for both children and adults. ‘The extras are broken up into environments from the film such as the Darling House, Neverland Forest, Black Castle, etc. Each section features a short, 2 minute behind the scenes montage of scenes filmed in each area. They are the supplemented with other bonus features:

Alternate Ending – In this alternate ending, we see a grown up Wendy telling the story to her daughter. Peter Pan proceeds to fly in, see the adult Wendy, and start crying. Wendy’s daughter then wakes up, sees Pan, and asks her mother if she can fly off with him. Thus ends the film on a bittersweet note. After seeing both versions, I think I like the final theatrical one better.

Deleted Scenes – In these deleted scenes, Mr. Darling declares that he won’t come out of the dog house until the children return home safely. We then see him carried to work in the dog house, driven home in the dog house, etc. It’s probably a bit from Barrie’s original story, but it doesn’t work in the film and it seems quite stupid. It’s better left on the cutting room floor.

Me & My Shadow – This brief video shows how the shadow effects were created.

In the Dog House with Nana – This features Nana the dog (actually a male) and shows behind the scenes footage of his training and filming.

Tinkerbell: Behind the Fairy Dust – This video features Ludivine Sagnier as Tink and it discusses how she got the role, how the fairy effects were made, and more. There’s a lot of behind the scenes footage here.

I Do Believe in Fairies – This shows how the fairy dance number was made and you see the extra fairies being made up.

Princess Tiger Lily – This video shows the girl who played Tiger Lily and it reveals that she is a real Native American and speaks Iroquois.

Learning to Fly – This shows all the flying rigging and how the kids learned to use it. You get a greater appreciation for what they did and their hard work training.

The Mermaids Tale – This shows the women being made up as the mermaids and a little behind the scenes footage.

Through the Eyes of Captain Hook – Jason Isaacs happened to have a video camera on the set of the film and took quite a few home movies. These are clips from what he shot around the set, while other people were filming, etc. Fun stuff!

The Pirates vs. The Lost Boys – Here the pirate actors gripe about the children and make jokes about them. There are a few inappropriate profanities here, but it is otherwise a fun video.

The Lost Pirate Song – The pirates originally had a song for this film, but it was cut and never used in the film. You see shots of them practicing, then later singing it in costume on the set.

The Legacy of Pan, Hosted by Sarah Ferguson – This is a 15 minute or so video on the making of the movie, and it’s hosted by the Duchess of York. Apparently she did promos for the movie for European TV networks and this was part of it.

The Duchess’s Outtakes – These are outtakes from the previous video showing Fergie clowning around with Jason Isaacs, flubbing lines, and more. It shows a more human side of her and is quite amusing.

The Bottom Line:
With a strong cast, artistic effects, and a few new twists and turns, Peter Pan is a fun retelling of the classic tale that’s entertaining for adults and children alike.

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