Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
As a close visual cousin of Moulin Rouge!’s bold color schemes and luscious vistas, P.J. Hogan’s sumptuous 2003 vision of J.M. Barrie’s story offered a memorable feast for the eyes and imagination.
Clicking with instant fairytale charm, the film’s illustrations dazzled with terrific visual playfulness and slightly bent humor. Hogan and screenwriter Michael Goldenberg (Contact) also never lost sight of the familiar story’s heart.
One oh-so-simple improvement: Casting an actual boy as Peter Pan, not a middle-aged actress or athlete dangling from viewable wires. Mischief constantly gleams in the twinkling eye of young Jeremy Sumpter, who creates spunky fun out of the part.
As his nemesis, Hook, Jason Isaacs resembles a pale, peeved mixture of Rasputin and Frank Zappa. (It’s nice that Hogan stuck to the stage tradition of also casting Isaacs as the timid Mr. Darling.) And in a silent role bolstered by special effects, Ludivine Sagnier’s Tink emphasizes sass over any sort of bad Julia Roberts star power.
Yes, this version included romance between Peter and Wendy, and complaints lobbied against its “sexuality” were absurd. Certainly aware of this spark, Goldenberg’s screenplay found more interest in the trepidation, uncertainty and conflict that surrounds it.
Peter Pan fared poorly at the box office, an expensive $100-million writeoff for Universal — a shame considering it packed more poignancy about family responsibility in two minutes than the Cheaper by the Dozen remake did in 100. In a time when Neverland had become shorthand for tawdry scandal, Hogan reclaimed its sweet legacy.