Monday, 30 March 2009

Movie Review - Peter Pan

I had my misgivings about going to see this but, after reading some good reviews, thought that it was worth a shot. This bears no relation to the Disney version (which admittedly I remember little of), being rather darker in tone and with a few plot changes as far as I could tell. Unfortunately, while I applaud the bravery of making the film somewhat dissimilar to what most people would be expecting, it’s a real shame that the producers didn’t try to do anything really different – it’s like painting something a darker shade of the same colour, rather than painting it a new colour.

The plot will be familiar enough to most people, but here goes anyway: Mr & Mrs Darling have 3 children – Wendy, John, and Michael. These go off with Peter Pan, a boy who can never grow up, can fly, and who lives in “Neverland” (which in this movie is on another planet). In Neverland lives his enemy Captain Hook, etc etc they all live happily ever after.

It’s very difficult to know who exactly this movie is aimed at. Due to its darker tone and certain aspects of its content, I wouldn’t really call it a children’s movie. But then, it’s not really an adults movie either. And while a few things along the way are a little different, the ending has not been changed at all, which kind of makes all the changes leading up to it seem rather pointless.

The Good Bits

There were a few good things about this movie, it’s not a total disaster. Jason Isaacs was good as Captain Hook / Mr Darling (though I did kind of wish they’d cast Johnny Depp in it and had the same scriptwriters and crew that brought us Pirates of the Caribbean do this film…), and Richard Briars was an absolutely inspired choice as Smee. The child actors do a pretty good job, especially Rachel Hurd-Wood as Wendy, but I wouldn’t say any of them were brilliant. The way some of the children speak is very funny. (SO English!)

The exploration of what Peter Pan had lost was also done quite well, though I thought the end would have had a lot more impact if it had been done differently.


The Bad Bits

Unfortunately, there are plenty of them. The relationship between Mr & Mrs Darling is not only not explored but completely non-existent. The special effects were bad – you could actually see the change from CGI to sets very clearly, and the skeletal parrot looked like something out of the Muppet Show. The plot doesn’t flow very well, being more a series of scenes than one coherent film.

The storyline isn’t as bold as it should be, considering it made a show of trying to be different. It would have been much more effective for Peter Pan to have ended up being shown as the baddie and Captain Hook being the good guy at the end of the day. There seems no reason for the malice shown by Pan towards Hook, and I desperately hoped that Hook would wipe the smile of the cocky little brat’s face permanently. (Okay so he is sort of an anti-hero hero, but it’s overdone).

There are some scenes of the children being treated quite brutally that were a bit too realistic for comfort, though these were portrayed in an almost comic way. There was some completely unnecessary child nudity, albeit brief. And there was something very disturbing about seeing young children kiss each other full on the lips, for a long, lingering moment, too…

Which leads me to another main flaw of the film – the “romance” between Wendy and Pan was completely unbelievable. It was all a bit too contrived.

Almost as annoying as Pan himself was Tinkerbell (the fairy). I wanted them both to die. Unfortunately, when it looks like Tinkerbell has had it, she is brought back in the most vomit-inducing scene of the film.


Overall

As you can probably tell, I didn’t enjoy this film. If it had shown the courage of its alleged convictions and dared to actually be different, it could have been a really good films. As it was I’ll never want to see it again.

But it had me laughing quite a few times, so it wasn’t a complete disaster. I just find it hard to think of anyone who would like it – young children might like it, but it’s not entirely kid-friendly – adults will probably find it too contrived and annoying (okay parents may have more tolerance than me for this sort of thing!) – people who loved the book will likely be disappointed by the changes.

So only recommended to… er… um… people who haven’t been put off by this review!

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