Peter Pan review

Everyone who expected Aussie helmer PJ Hogan to do a Baz Luhrmann and jazz up JM Barrie's play with contemporary songs and pop-culture references, take a deep breath. This is a strictly by-the-book job. In fact, it's such a faithful adap, boasting dialogue stuffed with bounders, cads and rotters, it plays as if the Children's Film Foundation had hired ILM.

All credit to Hogan, though. Despite a twee tone that may not enamour his Peter Pan adap to the Pixar/GameCube generation, he's produced a charismatic, storybook-style kid-flick that paints Neverland with a fantasy glow. The leisurely pacing toward the middle might provoke some fidgeting, but this should at least help to fill the Potter-shaped gap left by Mr Harry's year off. And it's also a chance for older fans of the play to see it without anyone from Neighbours prancing around in tights.

Of course, this version of Pan comes with one big selling point: Jason Isaacs, a baddie-specialist who was born to be Hook. Sadly, however, it's something of a wasted opportunity, the Brit evildoer letting his natural charm swamp any hope that Hook could be a menacing, hissable villain. True, you usually end up rooting for the one-handed miscreant anyway, but here he's just a little too appealing, unlikely to send icicles down the spines of nervous tots let alone kids raised on Resident Evil. Still, there's no denying he's good value, mustering panto gusto as he blasts his subordinates.

The rest of the cast are okay, too. Unlike the Potter saga's oak-carved youngsters, Pan has a young ensemble who can move their facial muscles at will - it's called acting - with Jeremy Sumpter proving a likeable hero. And upstaging everyone by a nautical mile, is Richard Briers. His Smee is all witty asides to camera, leaving you wishing there were more of him and less of the "comedy" peg-leg parrot.

Despite the best efforts of Hogan and his actors, this latest bout of Pan-demonium never quite sprinkles enough of the old fairy dust to allow it to fly above the level of "entertaining". Which still makes it a damn sight better than Hook...

PJ Hogan's remarkably faithful adap doesn't light up the screen like Tinkerbell, but it's enough fun to make you half-believe in fairies.

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