A spellbinding adaptation of JM Barrie's classic children's novel, Peter Pan stars Jeremy Sumpter as the flying boy who takes Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood) and her brothers (Harry Newell, Freddie Popplewell) to Neverland. Forget Steven Spielberg's disastrous Hook, this is a magical mystery tour that's enchanting enough to give Harry Potter a run for his pocket money. It boasts a series of action-packed set pieces and soppy (but never slushy) love story, delighting and exciting in equal measure.
In bringing Barrie's Neverland to life, director PJ Hogan (My Best Friend's Wedding) creates a truly astonishing realm of candyfloss clouds, lush jungles, and a flying pirate ship. At the helm is dastardly Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs), who's eager to defeat Peter Pan's gang of Lost Boys and their new storyteller, Wendy.
Staying true to the story's darker elements, Hogan takes the action as far as the PG certificate permits, scaring the little 'uns with scenes involving murderous mermaids, swashbuckling sword fights, and the machinations of Tinkerbell (Ludivine Sagnier), who's jealous of Peter's new friend.
"IMPRESSIVE CHILDREN'S ADVENTURE"
It's Hook who really shivers the timbers, though. Leaving aside the usual pantomime buffoonery, Jason Isaacs plays him as a ruthless villain who spends his time fitting a vicious-looking array of metal prosthetics onto his wrist stump while trying to stay one step ahead of his foe, an implacable crocodile with a taste for pirate meat.
With the action and adventure present and correct, there's even time for some romance as Rachel Hurd-Wood's plumy-voiced Wendy teaches Peter how to kiss, then picks up a sword and charges into battle on the decks of the pirate ship. It's likely to give Harry Potter's Hermione ideas, for this impressive children's adventure strikes a balance between magical adventure and heartfelt emotion that the wizard from Hogwarts has yet to discover.
Peter Pan is released in UK cinemas on Friday 26th December 2003.