Dueling Peter Pans

pan2003Recently, I realized I had very few memories of the 2003 Peter Pan movie. So, rather than do any of the number of posts I have sitting around half-done on my hard drive or in my head, I decided to Netflix it. It started freezing up on me at the halfway point, but in general I was liking it. Jeremy Sumpter made a good Pan, and Jason Isaacs made a great Hook, and the film had a darker feel than the Disney cartoon while still capturing its fun. But I got a little bored with Wendy, Michael and John and the Lost  Boys’ desire to make Wendy their mother so she could tell them stories. It wasn’t a movie I felt bad about stopping partway through to do other things, but I did feel a little bad when it wouldn’t play properly after that.

I thought about sending it back to Netflix and getting a replacement, but instead I decided I wouldn’t mind throwing a buck to my local video store and renting it right now. (Support your local video stores, kids.)  You wouldn’t think a decade-old Peter Pan movie would be a title in high demand, but it wasn’t in. But that’s okay, because instead I rented Hook, and that’s a movie that holds up.

Cover of "Hook"
Cover of Hook

I mean, sure. It looks a little dated with its costumes, practical effects and 90s-era blue-screen/matte paintings, but something about it also looks really magical — particularly those Neverland backdrops. I think it’s because they look unreal in a whimsical way. Loading up the CGI-machines either makes it all look too real if it’s really good CGI or just…like bad CGI, if it’s bad. Not to mention, I think Hook really excelled with flying wire work and swordplay (if only in the final battle).

And the story is good, even if it’s not terribly complex. Apparently Steven Spielberg has been really critical of Hook and says it was a “mistake not to let Robin Williams be funny.” But whatever the behind-the-scenes chatter was, I thought Williams’ turn as Pan was good and his grown up Peter Banning was even better, falling somewhere in between Robin Williams Wacky and Robin Williams Drama Face. And that made sense for a character who had forgotten how to play but still had enough spark left in him to remember again (and save his kids, one of whom has been brainwashed by Dustin Hoffman’s marvelous Captain Hook).

This photo does not do justice to Pirate Pretty. (ABC photo)
This photo does not do justice to Pirate Pretty. (ABC photo)

In future endeavors (after seeing if a good cleaning helps Peter Pan or if Family Video has it back when I return Hook), Netflix is streaming Neverland, the Pan and Hook origin story miniseries that SyFy ran not too long ago. And, color me surprised, I’m actually really excited for Once Upon A Time to come back. Because Hook was basically the best thing to happen to that show, and the main characters all heading off to Neverland to find Henry just fills me with glee. And it looks like it’s going to turn Peter Pan on his ear a little bit and make him a villain? I can see that.

Also, I’ve actually never read any of the Peter Pan novels, but here’s what Wikipedia has to say about them:

By JM Barrie
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens: Infant Peter flies from his home, makes friends with fairies, and takes up residence in Kensington Gardens. It is a “book-within-a-book” that was first published in Barrie’s The Little White Bird.

Peter and Wendy: Peter brings Wendy and her brothers to Never Land, where he has a climactic showdown with his nemesis, Captain Hook. This story was originally told in Barrie’s stage play and novel, and repeatedly adapted in various media.

Later expansion
Peter and the Starcatchers (2004), Peter and the Shadow Thieves (2006), Peter and the Secret of Rundoon (2007), Peter and the Sword of Mercy (2009), a series of novels by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson: Peter leaves a London orphanage for a series of adventures, which offer an origin story for Captain Hook, fairies, his abilities, and the Lost Boys.

Peter Pan in Scarlet (2006), a novel by Geraldine McCaughrean: Wendy, John, and most of the Lost Boys return to Neverland, where Peter has begun to take Captain Hook’s place. It serves as an official sequel to Peter and Wendy.

That last one actually sounds really interesting to me. and given that my book reading this year has not gone beyond a collection of cat cartoons, I may have to see if my library has it. (Support your local libraries, kids.)

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4 thoughts on “Dueling Peter Pans

  1. […] Hook: Some people grow up hooked on The Goonies or The Princess Bride, but I grew up with Hook (okay, and Iron Will, but I didn’t rewatch that this year). Robin Williams walks a line between his more serious stuff and his comedy as a grown-up, absentee-father Peter Pan thrust back into Neverland and a battle wtih Captain James T. Hook (Dustin Hoffman at his hammiest). And watching him find his inner kid — and save his own kids — is certainly a treat. Watching it again makes me wish “bangarang” was a more widely used exclamation. Plus: Rufio. For more thoughts on this and the various Peter Pan-related media, see this post. […]

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