In both London and Neverland, Wendy Darling (Hurd-Wood) is
renowned for her abilities as a storyteller, bringing princesses and
pirates together for compelling narratives. Unfortunately, although
Peter Pan features both princesses and pirates, as well as
Indians, fairies, mermaids, and other fascinating characters that
children love, the focus of the story took a wrong turn on its way
to Neverland and became lost.
The story of Peter Pan (Sumpter) is a familiar one. He’s
the boy who refuses to grow up, and lives in perpetual childhood on
the island of Neverland, with his fairy Tink (Sagnier) and
the Lost Boys. Bent on killing Peter Pan is Captain Hook (Isaacs)
and his pirate crew, a mixed bunch of scoundrels who aren’t
nearly as funny or interesting as the ones in Pirates Of The Caribbean.
Meanwhile, back in England, Darling siblings Wendy, John (Newell),
and Michael (Popplewell) are aghast at the prospect that they
must soon grow up. When Peter Pan comes and offers them an opportunity
to remain children forever, they jump, or rather, fly at it.
It’s all well and good that the children are hesitant about
becoming adults, especially when they are having so much fun playing.
After hearing them complain, Mrs. Darling (Williams) told them
patiently that growing up requires bravery, and that their father
Mr. Darling (Isaacs) has braved adulthood for the sake of his
family. Although it’s a nice message, the filmmakers seemed
to have forgotten about following up on it.
What makes this movie so confused is that it tries to include a romance
between Wendy and Peter as well. Wendy believes that love consists
of feelings, and that it’s part of growing up. Peter refuses
to grow up, refuses to have feelings, and refuses to love. But he
does really like Wendy. Something is wrong here.
Ignoring the inconsistencies of the plot, the movie is fun, mainly
because its characters are enjoying themselves in the story. Leading
the way is Jeremy Sumpter (Frailty) as Peter Pan, who looks
decidedly appropriate with his wide smirk and boyish attitude. Playing
along are John (who looks suspiciously like Harry Potter) and Michael,
who have so much fun they nearly forget their parents. Michael’s
teddy bear has his own share of adventures as he, too, is chained
to a rock at the Black Castle and even survives a beheading.
Peter Pan contains many slapstick sequences timed to elicit
laughter from young audiences, as well as swordfights and gunfights
for the slightly older children. However, the PG rating is not for
naught, as those swords and guns often do meet their targets, and
Hook especially is fond of shooting whomever displeases him. There
is also a giant crocodile that looks big enough to swallow several
men whole, and swims around the pirate ship waiting for victims.
Children will like the fairy tale quality of Peter Pan and
the adventures. The imagery of the London skyline and the intricacies
of Neverland will wow young and old alike. Especially breathtaking
is one of the final scenes where fairies lift a sparkling pirate ship
into the night sky. However, adult audiences will need to find more
than scenery to sustain their attention.