“There are many different kinds of bravery”
It is a truth that every generation gets their own cinematic version of JM Barrie’s classic Peter Pan whether they want it or not (and this year’s Pan bombing heavily for Joe Wright shows it’s not always a good idea) and in 2003, it was PJ Hogan who took on the boy who never grows up, actually casting a boy in the lead role for once. And I have to say it is a rather sweet version of the story, a charming adaptation that captures much of the child-like glee associated with the story.
There’s nothing particularly innovative about this interpretation, it just does traditional very well whilst still managing subtle differences. Jeremy Sumpter’s sprightly Peter and Rachel Hurd-Wood ‘s impassioned Wendy are just perfect, both on the cusp of young adulthood and giving a real sense of the confusion of first sexual attractions and the world of possibility it opens. And Jason Isaac, doubling as Mr Darling and the dastardly Hook, is rather unexpectedly excellent, full of real menace for once as the pirate king.
The luminous Ludivine Sagnier makes for a feisty Tink, a wordless part here but full of fighting spirit, there’s fun in spotting a cherubic George Mackay amongst the Lost Boys, Lynn Redgrave stands out as new (if underused) character Aunt Millicent and Richard Briers’ brilliantly comic Smee is a delight throughout. And Olivia Williams is a powerful presence as the devoted Mrs Darling, not given a huge amount to do but still encapsulating the epitome of kind motherhood.
Clever use of CGI makes it clear just how much of a fantasy Neverland is, James Newton Howard’s score is suitably epic without ever being overwhelming and the sadness of the ending is neatly undercut by a twinkle in the eye over on the way to the second star on the right. Thoroughly enchanting and worthy of investigation.