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Peter Pan - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Peter Pan
Well, it took longer than I thought it would, but I finally got to see Peter Pan.

On the plus side, I definitely didn't hate this movie. On the minus side, I didn't really love it, either. It was just kind of... there.

What works:
A lot about this movie works well, beginning with the cast. The spectacular Jason Isaacs plays both Mr. Darling and Captain Hook with a kind of vulnerability that is endearing, and he plays well on Hook's need for Peter to continue their mutual fantasy world. Jeremy Sumpter is an engaging Peter. He suffers a weak moment in an early scene which is too bad--Peter's tears over losing his shadow come off unreal at an unfortunately memorable moment--but the rest of his performance is spot on. Rachel Hurd-Wood's Wendy is fantastic from beginning to end, particularly in her scenes with Sumpter. (Though she is also a very energetic and charismatic storyteller.) John and Michael come off as realistic little brothers, and both Mrs. Darling and Aunt Millicent are believable adults.

The slant on the story here is one of tragedy and romance, in the end causing the audience not to envy Peter but to pity him. More effectively than Hook, this version of Peter Pan is able to show the attractions of growing up--unlike Robin Williams' Pan, this Pan really is incomplete as a child, not only because he wants a child of his own to raise, but because he is unwilling to make any personal sacrifices for the sake of the people he loves. He is in a realistic state of perpetual adolescence, and both Wendy and Hook call him on it. (Hook, in a burst of real cruelty, tells him that he will die alone and unloved--"just like me"--causing him to fall from the sky.) Wendy's precarious perch between simple childhood and desired adulthood is balanced perfectly.

The costuming is terrific, the music is serviceable if not memorable, Tinkerbell suitably jealous, Neverland fantastically rendered. A fairy wedding gives a beautiful backdrop for a pivotal scene between Peter and Wendy.

What doesn't work:
There are only so many ways to do the "I do believe in fairies!" scene. (For those who have seen neither the stage play nor E.T. nor any of the other sources that use this scene, Tinkerbell dies, and must be brought back to life--in the live version--by children in the audience clapping their hands if they believe in fairies.) It can't be done in the traditional way because film isn't an interactive medium, but screenwriter P.J. Hogan opted to get around this in an unfortunate way. He has Peter crying over Tink--good so far--then saying, himself, "I do believe in fairies," which is already a trouble sign since that has never been in doubt. Then the chant, "I do believe in fairies, I do, I do!" is picked up by Wendy (who has no reason to like Tink), her brothers, the Lost Boys, the pirates, children in the real world, Wendy's mother, Mr. Darling's boss, and pretty much everyone who could be caught on film. I don't know how long this chant actually goes on, but it feels like forever. There have to be at least ten repetitions of the line, and I have a feeling there were more. It caused quite a bit of laughter in the theater.

Toward the end, Tink does some sort of charm on Aunt Millicent and a Lost Boy named Slightly--since there was no set up, this came out of the blue entirely.

And more chanting... it was kind of spooky, with the Darlings and the Lost Boys chanting at Hook, not because they were chanting, "Alone, unloved, done for," but because they were in perfect Village of the Damned unison. Creepy Barney generation defeat of Hook.

In general, there's not a lot wrong with this movie. It just never quite catches on.


Working on a few ideas for next time. Hopefully, I'll get a schedule down for this.

Oh, just editing in for fun:

You are a hobbit lass.
What LotR Mary Sue cliche are you?

brought to you by Quizilla

I love being a hobbit. I can count degrees of cousins on my fingers and toes. And the Mary Sue I can't bear to take off FFN is a hobbit as well. :)

Oops, forgot gakking credits. Gakked from silverhill via deleterius.

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Comments
ladyaeryn From: ladyaeryn Date: January 1st, 2004 12:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, overall the review's pretty encouraging, and fits with the general vibe I've gotten about PP so far - the positive outweighing the negative. Looks like it might be enjoyable enough to soothe the self-kicking I'm still doing for having given in to my morbid curiosity on RotK. Certainly not as big a waste of money. ;)
leeflower From: leeflower Date: January 2nd, 2004 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
well it's good to hear that it doesn't suck outright.

I was wondering, because it looked like it could go either way.

I heard there were some amusing tidbits where the swordfights were concerned. Sumpter apparantly accidentally smacked Isaacs full in the face with a rubber practice sword in rehersals, after begging to use the real metal swords to practice. He felt terrible about it afterwards and promised Isaacs he'd lay off about the real swords.
Except the next day they got a new bit of choreography, and Sumpter started right in again about real swords. This all came from Washington Post. I found it amusing because it looks like the poor boy was chanelling his character.
tommy50702 From: tommy50702 Date: December 17th, 2014 04:27 am (UTC) (Link)
It's always hard to please audience who already knows the story of a film.
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