A search on IMDB for "Peter Pan" brings up nine distinct films, and that doesn't include Hook. While the Mary Martin version will always be the standard for me, this new version is a worthwhile update for kids who have never seen Peter Pan. If you're the sort of parent who loves their children and wants their child to live a life free of terror, disease and musicals, then by all means take them to see Peter Pan this holiday season. If you don't have kids, don't bother with this film. The best of the special effects were shown in the trailer and the actor who plays Pan is abominable. He's Hayden Christensen bad.
The film follows the basic Peter Pan story. Little Wendy Darling, age twelve is faced with the horrific prospect of growing up. The night before she is to be turned over to her aunt for training in how to be a proper young lady, Wendy and her brothers are swept away to Never Never Land by Peter Pan and his precocious faerie Tinkerbell. Once in Never Never Land, the children encounter all the characters from Wendy's stories come to life: including a man with his hands on backwards and a fierce pirate named Captain Hook.
The problem with Peter Pan is that he is up against the formidable Harry Potter. Not only are the Potter films of substantially better quality than Peter Pan, the stories are more engrossing and the characters are more modern. When Wendy tries to kiss Peter within moments of meeting him, it's totally weird; and I couldn't help but think, "Hermione would never try to kiss Harry." Then there's the "Clap if you believe in faeries" scene. It doesn't work at all in this version of Pan probably because there's no clapping. Instead, the filmmakers show all the characters chanting, "I DO believe in faeries. I Do. I DO." The scene is extremely hokey and it feels like it goes on forever.
By far the weirdest thing about this version of Pan is it's just too girly. The love story between Wendy and Peter is really exaggerated and it receives far too much screen time. Why would kids be interested in romance? Both boys and girls want to see adventure and flying, not a pas de deux between Peter and Wendy. Secondly, the special effects were just too fru-fru. When the characters are up in the clouds, it looks cool, but the rest of the time the backgrounds are distracting because they are so overdone. Peter Pan himself is even a little bit prissy. He has highlighted hair for godsakes, he belongs in a boy band! Actor Jeremy Sumpter is horrific and performs the entire role with two expressions: smirking and scowling.
All in all, Peter Pan is still a fun and imaginative story that everyone should see at least once. For someone who has never seen Peter Pan before, my problems with the film would probably go unnoticed; however, any Harry Potter fan whether adult or child will likely fund themselves thinking, "If I were Wendy, I would have held out for Hogwarts."
-Megan A. Denny