Sound: C Extras: C- Main Program: C-
What has happened to James M. Barrie’s book Peter Pan
in interpretations on the screen lately?
The older animated Walt Disney feature from 1953 continues to be
definitive, so much so that just about every current version is “revisionist”
since then and it has not been pretty.
The big-budget version by Steven Spielberg in 1990 dubbed Hook
had tons of problems and was a big disappointment, while Spielberg himself was
looking to do something more magical.
That did not happen, and the problems resurfaced with far worse
implications in his disastrous 2001 production A.I. – Artificial
Intelligence. However, the problems
may have been beyond Spielberg.
2003 saw two more stabs at the story, and both were
actually more problematic than Spielberg’s take. Peter Pan with Jason Issacs as Captain Hook had parents
storming out of the theaters and asking for refunds, while Neverland was
barely released and was a hip, Gay take that is the most problematic of
all. That latter Damion Dietz-directed
project might have been able to find some kind of clever Gay context or the
like, but it becomes an opportunity most wasted, like most entries out of the
Gay New wave and all that has followed.
This time, Wendy is African-American, one guy dresses up
like Cher meets the “Indian” from The Village People, Captain Hook is
stereotypically gay and the rest of the children (duh) are young adults who
have not grown up. The problem is, this
is all pointless, trite and forgettable.
Adding the amusement park as Neverland itself is not utilized in any
effective way. As a matter of fact,
this treats the material as cliché, with other recent versions looking
ambitious by comparison. The monochrome
Mary Martin TV version seems like a scholarly exercise in comparison.
The 1.78 X 1 image is not anamorphically enhanced and
taped in a format that is maybe PAL at best.
Though the source is clean enough, it is not imaginative or
impressive. The Dolby Digital 2.0 is
Monophonic and sounds small for a recent recording of any sort. It just makes this more monotonous. The only extras are some stills and a
trailer, for what else could be said.
Wil Wheaton, a long time cartoon voice and on-camera star
of the mixed TV spin-off Star Trek – The Next Generation and many bad TV
and film projects, keeps his unfortunate live-action loosing streak record in
tact. Fortunately, he is talented and
very likable, only stuck in a supporting role here. I hope he gets a breakthrough going, as he deserves better and so
As for a better feature, Scott Smith’s brilliant Roller
Coaster (1999, reviewed elsewhere on this site) also takes place in an
amusement park and also deals with sexuality and some of the issues (by
default) of some Peter Pan mythology.
It is everything this project should have been, and is a far better
alternative, so get that one instead.
- Nicholas Sheffo