• 2004-03-11
Peter Pan
Director: P.J. Hogan.

There is real fairy dust in the air in this film. In many ways it succeeds in outdoing the magic of the much-cherished 1953 Disney version, and it's not half as innocent.
It has some quite imaginative and captivating visuals, but the best thing about the film is the choice of Jeremy Sumpter as a positively enchanting and charming Peter Pan. The film understands remarkably well what children and grown-ups, respectively, find interesting and thrilling. "Peter Pan" sticks closely to the original J. M. Barrie story which can make it seem somewhat old-fashioned at times, while at the same time being bold and original enough to really stand out in its own right. It is everything a Peter Pan film should be. III 1/2
Julie Vinten

Oddly enough, Pan has always traditionally been played by a female. But Australian director P.J. Hogan has changed all that. Jeremy Sumpter is the first boy to play the make-believe character in a live-action film. The 15-year-old does a terrific job as the boy who doesn't want to grow up. The talented young American definitely holds his own amongst a professional British cast. However, it is lovely Ludivine Sagnier as Tink, who steals the whole show with her pugnacious gestures and radiant presence. Although there have been numberless versions of J.M. Barrie's classic children's story performed on stage, television and the big silver screen over the last 100 years, Hogan's version aspires to be the definitive "Peter Pan," as it skilfully and faithfully sticks to the basics of the original yarn. IIII
Laimons Juris G

Cheaper by the Dozen
Director: Shawn Levy
There was a time when Steve Martin was funny, but it seems that's ancient now. "Cheaper by the Dozen" might be a comedy, but in reality it's more scary than funny. It's nauseating to see with what gleeful "Oops, we did it again!" the married couple, Martin and Bonnie Hunt, spit out babies until reaching the magic number of 12 nasty, spoiled little devils. It is supposedly hilarious how these sitcom parents sarcastically talk to their offspring, but, frankly, it borders on mental abuse. With the constant screaming and yelling you leave the cinema a nervous wreck, wondering if the film's honorable message that family always comes first, shouldn't be wholly ignored when it comes to this dysfunctional horde. I
Julie Vinten

This reviewer wasn't really looking forward to seeing the latest Steve Martin flick, so it was hardly a surprise that it's a totally disappointing dud. What has happened to the once wild and wacky funny-guy? Martin used to be so hilariously comical, engaging and creative. Unfortunately, this particular venture looks more like a rejected pilot film for a less than adequate television series. Before you know it, you'll be slipping and sliding up to your eyebrows in syrupy cliches. If you truly enjoy scripts literally soaked in saccharine, then don't miss this sugary and nauseous mess. In a freak bit of acting, Ashton Kutcher turns out to be the only source of amusement in this unrealistic misadventure. I1/2
Laimons Juris G

Brother Bear
Directors: A.Blaise, R.Walker
With "Brother Bear" it is clear that Disney will always be Disney. Its general motto seems to be "If it's not broken, why fix it?" And right they are, of course. The cartoon is about a young Inuit who kills a bear in hate, and then gets turned into one himself. The film isn't really that entertaining or all that beautiful, but that said, Disney is still here to spread its message of love and tolerance. Other recent cartoons, such as "Shrek" and "Finding Nemo," have proven it is possible to make that point without spoon-feeding it to kids through sentimentality and lecturing. Still, "Brother Bear" is not going to hurt any children (but perhaps offend their intelligence a little), and "follow your totem of love" is not the worst thing you can teach a child. II1/2

Julie Vinten

Borrowing liberally from every Walt Disney animated film ever made, this believable mythological tale is about Native American shamans and respect for nature. "There is magic in everything," states a tribal elder, who tells the story of his youngest brother Kenai (excellently voiced by Joaquin Phoenix). The Great Spirits teach the egotistical Kenai a thing or two about love by turning him into a bear. The last decade of the 20th century saw computer-generated images quickly replace the traditional hand drawn cell. It appears that this is the last two-dimensional film that Disney Studios plans to make for quite awhile. In homage, "Brother Bear" features a sweet heartfelt parable, which is ecologically correct in every imaginable way. III
Laimons Juris G

Sour grapes
Rumors are flying around that Bill Murray did not take well to losing out on the Best Actor Oscar to Sean Penn. Millions of viewers looked on as the "Lost in Translation" star notably failed to applaud when Penn was announced as the winner. But in an interview with The Guardian earlier this year, Murray said that he wasn't concerned with winning accolades. "I'm over with the Oscar thing," he said. "I feel that if you really want an Oscar, you're in trouble. It's like wanting to be married - you'll take anything."

Launching an Amnesty International campaign against attacks on women, the actor Patrick Stewart, best known for his role as Captain Jean Luc-Picard in "Star Trek," criticized Qventin Tarantino's latest film "Kill Bill" for its depiction of violence against women. "I condemn utterly films like 'Kill Bill.' We are told it is about empowering women. All it does is empower a woman to kill other women," he said. Tarantino, who is currently editing "Kill Bill Vol. 2" ahead of its release next month, declined to comment.