The misguided far outweighs the wise in P.J. Hogan’s film adaptation of Peter Pan. It’s a shame really, since this is the closest a movie has come to the metaphorical import of J.M. Barrie’s renowned story. Peter (Jeremy Sumpter) and Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood) get to share the sublime adolescent sexual tension previously rendered moot. Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs) is a more intriguing blend of genders: demanding father and frustrated mother, complete with ticking biological crocodile clock. Several scenes approach passion play profundity, especially when Peter and Wendy act as bickering parents to the rambunctious Lost Boys. And yet the film is a wash, first and foremost for Hogan and cinematographer Donald McAlpine’s choice to shoot entire sequences in garish singular colors. The orange sunset-drenched climactic duel between Hook and Pan wins this critic’s Razzie for Ugliest Sequence of the Year, as it makes a monochromatic mockery of a seminal childhood myth. This singularity of vision extends to the fantasy Never Land’s racial makeup, a superficially fascinating blend of Asian Mermaids, Native American aborigines, and Cockney Pirates, who are treated as exotic and/or fearsome curiosities by the young white cast. The resultant ideological muddle calls attention to the more uncomfortable aspects of Hogan’s film, specifically a tendency toward prepubescent leering and a brushed-aside (hell, ignored) gay subtext. A scene in which Wendy’s brothers Michael (Freddie Popplewell) and John (Harry Newell) hang upside down in a tree trap, their naked butts facing camera in medium close-up, is particularly gratuitous and off-putting, save perhaps to a certain real world Never Land resident. And any film that has the audacity to show a bare-chested young gent passionately repeating “I do believe in fairies! I do! I do!” requires a stronger form of directorial inquiry into the sexual subconscious than Hogan can provide.
- P.J. Hogan
- P.J. Hogan, Michael Goldenberg
- Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Sumpter, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Lynn Redgrave, Richard Briers, Harry Newell, Freddie Popplewell, Olivia Williams, Ludivine Sagnier
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