Directed by PJ Hogan, starring Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Sumpter, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Ludivine Sagnier, Olivia Williams, Richard Briers, Harry Newell and Freddie Popplewell.
Swashbuckling is superfashionable this season. From Johnny Depp's take on Keith Richards piratical look in 'Pirates of the Caribbean' to 'Master and Commander' - Russell Crowe as a proud but sensitive captain on the high seas - and now the dastardly Captain Hook returns in PJ Hogan's wonderful take on 'Peter Pan'.
Hook is played with delicious relish by Jason Isaacs who also has a role in the real world as Mr Darling, the milk-and-water head of the Darling family. Married to the lovely and angelic Mrs Darling (Williams), he has three children: Wendy (an enchanting Hurd-Wood), John (Newell) and Michael (Popplewell). Theirs is a slightly unconventional household, (the nanny is a large St Bernard called Nanny), much to the disapproval of maiden aunt Millicent (Redgrave), who insists that Wendy should be removed from the nursery she shares with her brothers to a room of her own in preparation for womanhood and marriage. The night before this is due to happen, Peter Pan (Sumpter) visits the children, teaches them to fly and persuades them to come with him to Neverland where they meet the Lost Boys and encounter the murderous and ruthless Hook.
Their adventures are all lovingly portrayed by Hogan who trumps Spielberg's messy 'Hook' by going back to JM Barrie's source novel. Hogan does not ignore the darker side of the book - no saccharine-sweet adaptation this - and although kiddies may be scared as well as charmed, the pay-off is worth it. He's not afraid to put a 21st century touch to it either, and his Wendy is more proactive than Barrie's, with her precocious interest in kissing Peter and active sword-play in the fight against the pirates.
There are wonderfully animated performances all round - Richard Briers as the mumbling pirate Smee is particularly good and Ludivine Sagnier's non-speaking role as Tinkerbell beats Julia Roberts in 'Hook' hands down. The production values are top class, from the lavish detail of Victoriana to the candy-coloured world of Neverland, and the visual inventiveness of 'Peter Pan' will delight adults as well as children. Sure to become a Christmas classic.