Flashback Review: Peter Pan (2003)

“Peter Pan” was released in 2003. (same year Big Fish came out) It received positive reviews from critics, families and movie goers alike. However, the remake bombed at the box office due to “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” made a billion dollars as the biggest film of the year.

Another live action remake of Peter Pan will stream sometime in 2022 on Disney Plus. Jude Law will portray Captain Hook. I’m very skeptical of Disney’s upcoming live action remake of the animated classic. Universal & Sony did it first. Heck, even Disney is making another live action “Pinocchio” ignoring the fact there’s already one with Drew Carey. I’d rather see Guillermo Del Toro’s stop-motion film on Netflix. Disney’s never heard of the phrase. “If it ain’t, broke don’t fix it.

I already covered the history of Peter Pan from my review of the 1953 classic. If you’re interested in my thoughts about it? Feel free to check it out.

I don’t care about SPOILERS. We’ve already seen Peter Pan countless times.

Believable & Unbelievable Qualities

Believable: Jason Issacs did an excellent job for his performance as Captain Hook. Unlike the cartoon, this version kills his crew onscreen. You can tell Jason is having a good time on set channeling Hook’s over-the-top mannerisms. He also plays Mr. Darling. A nod to Hans Conried’s dual role.

All the kid actors did a solid job for their respective performances.

Fun Fact: Tobey Maguire and the late Heath Ledger were considered for the titular role. They dropped out, because they were too old for the part.

P.J. Hogan did an amazing job directing.

Fun Fact: The film was originally intended to be a prequel with Dustin Hoffman reprising his role as Hook. He declined in favor of co-starring with Johnny Depp in “Finding Neverland.” A biopic based on J.M. Barrie’s relationship with a family that inspired Peter Pan.

Action Sequences recreates Peter & Hook’s sword fights in a more intense atmosphere.

James Newton Howard (Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The Dark Knight, The Hunger Games Trilogy) orchestrated the music. Two Years Later, Jim went on to compose another remake known as “King Kong.”

Costume Designs are a mix of old and new.

Humor captures appropriate comedy targeted for kids and adults. Doesn’t pander to the Lowest Common Denominator.

Cinematography never succumbed to numerous technical issues throughout.

Practical Effects & Visual Effects were mostly involved to bring Neverland to life.

Set Pieces were constructed by set decorators.

Prosthetic Makeup transformed several actors including Jason as Hook.

Tinkerbell is played by an actual actress. She’s no C.G.I. abomination like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in “The Mummy Returns.”

Chemistry between Peter & Wendy serves as the main highlight.

Peter is much nicer. I think it’s an interesting take on the character. Luckily, he’s still trolls Hook by mimicking his voice and calling him a codfish.

Mermaids are less human and they’re scary.

Although a green screen looks fake, the way Peter and the kids travel to Neverland was an awesome transition which was never shown in the original.

Don’t expect any musical numbers (except Hook singing and playing the piano) like “You Can Fly.” This remake takes the story a bit seriously. Thank goodness nobody sings “Following the Leader.” I friggin’ hate that song. Despite a lack of songs, this version still retains some of the cartoon’s charm. If Sony & Universal included Following the Leader, I would’ve Doubled Down.

Central Theme is not grow up. As a kid, I relate to Wendy, feeling reluctant to take full responsibility. As a result of Character Development, she’s willing take a risk for her brothers like wielding a sword courtesy of horse playing with her brothers in The First Act.

Again, The Tone recaptures the animated film’s lighthearted mood with a touch of dark humor courtesy of Hook. It’s not too serious like Ang Lee’s gamma radiated flop, “Hulk.”

Hook is eaten alive by the crocodile. Cartoon Logic won’t save him.

A Wilhelm Scream is heard when Smee shoots a guy.

I have to give this movie credit for introducing me to one of my favorite bands, Coldplay. First time I’ve heard of them, was a trailer playing “Clocks.”

Unbelievable: Visual Effects did not age well. Let’s face it, this was the early 2000s when C.G.I. was slowly improving.

The Final Verdict: A-

Sorry Disney fans, I consider the 2003 version Peter Pan as my favorite iteration. The Disney classic is the runner-up. If you haven’t seen this underrated remake, I highly recommend it. I consider this Peter Pan as one of the best remakes next to John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” “David Cronenberg’s “The Fly,” “Cape Fear,” “Dawn of the Dead,” Peter Jackson’s King Kong, “3:10 to Yuma,” “True Grit” and Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born.”

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