Ryan's Review of Peter Pan
Okay: Quick Review . . .
Not expecting much of the film, I was rather taken by surprise to read all the glowing reviews of the film, calling it the most mature and one the best incarnations of the story yet seen. So I gave it a whirl. There to my surprise was one of the most disarming and shining adaptations from a children's story I had ever seen. I, too, felt like I was flying for the entire duration. The story is sharp, cunning, shrewd, and - most of all - quietly, effectively sensual. Yes, sensual. There are bits of imagery and dialogue, glances cast in the most unusual ways, and smirks to fill a psychology textbook. I think the biggest reason I enjoyed the film is [i]because[/i] its more subtle subtleties will probably go over most of the kids' heads. However, even were they to miss the mature tension and intellectual insight bestowed by the film, there is still much else to marvel.
Jason Isaacs has what [i]should[/i] be a career-launching role(s), one that starts to earn him some real accolades and terrific parts. He's just outstanding, perfectly suited for this world. Newcomer Rachel Hurd-Wood charms the hearts of the audience with nearly effortless gentility and presence. Jeremy Sumpter, though, clearly has a difficult time holding the screen with these other two, and his performance is the only one that can't keep up. However, he's still perfectly suitable and actually works well when he's not saying anything at all. The rest of the cast fill out their admittedly thin roles with gusto and glee.
Donald McAlpine shamelessly daubs the screen with color and light, beauty magnificent and majestic enough to inspire nightmarishly ebullient dreams. His work is tonally appropriate and sets up the film with exactly the right feel, down to the last snowflake, the last exotic flower, and the last glowing bit of faerie dust. The art direction is excellent, though it doesn't have much to work with except a ship, a jungle, and an England so crisp it elicits chills. James Newton Howard's score hits a few curious notes (ones that sound almost dated on first listen), but the bulk of his work soars above the characters with style and spirit.
The story is obviously quite thin on the outside, though it knows just the right elements to emphasize and spotlight. The film progresses quickly, rushing us headlong into the depth and meaning of its characters, guided continuously by a warm and pleasing narration. The film is a first-rate children's movie, though it has enough brains and heart to allow older folks to watch it and just have fun. I couldn't keep myself from smiling. There's just too much to enjoy here. If filmmakers made more movies like this, I dare say we would have a hard time of growing up. We would never want to leave the rich tapestry of worlds like this, full of meaning and beauty and joy and even great sadness. True knowledge of the world will always set some people free, while it will only weigh others down further.
[color=red][b]3.5[/b] out of [b]4[/b][/color]