Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.
Australia/USA/United Kingdom, 2003. Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures Corporation, Revolution Studios, Red Wagon Entertainment, Allied Stars Ltd.. Screenplay by P.J. Hogan, Michael Goldenberg, based on the play and books by J.M. Barrie. Cinematography by Donald McAlpine. Produced by Lucy Fisher, Patrick McCormick, Douglas Wick. Music by James Newton Howard. Production Design by Roger Ford. Costume Design by Janet Patterson. Film Editing by Garth Craven, Michael Kahn. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2003.
You know you’re in trouble when you’ve made a Peter Pan film that’s worse than Hook. J.M. Barrie’s popular play is adapted “like you’ve never seen it before” for today’s audiences. This presumably means it’s more exciting and features more technological advances in its visual effects, but what it really means is that it’s never been this boring. Three Victorian children learn from their parents (Jason Isaacs, Olivia Williams) that oldest sister Wendy is going to be sent to live with her rich aunt (Lynn Redgrave) in order to prepare for a good match in marriage. Luckily, the magical boy who never grows up shows up at Wendy’s windowsill that night and takes her and her brothers Michael and John to Neverland where she becomes mother to the “Lost Boys” and meets the evil Captain Hook (Isaacs again). From there the film just goes from bad to worse as the audience has to suffer through dull characters and unimaginative action sequences that seem to take the story nowhere. There’s not a whiff of imagination in this entire production, even when the very charismatic Isaacs is having a grand old time as the curiously sympathetic villain. Rachel Hurd-Wood is wonderful as Wendy, giving a layered and charming performance, but Jeremy Sumpter is such a terrible Peter that it only helps render the production even more lifeless. Why on Earth did producers have to cast the entire production with British accents and then put a Yank in the lead? The financially-motivated reasons are obvious, but couldn’t director P.J. Hogan have shown just a little bit of integrity? This very low point in family entertainment also features French actress Ludivine Sagnier as Tinkerbell, whose dialogue-free role has her overdoing her facial expressions and physical contortions so much that it looks like she’s suffering from seizures for two hours.