Peter Pan (2003)

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Not suitable under 8; parental guidance to 13 (violence and realistic graphic effects)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Peter Pan (2003)
  • a review of Peter Pan (2003) completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 February 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 While the movie encourages children to enjoy imagery and fantasy, it is not suitable for young children due to the level of violence and the realistic graphic effects.
Children aged 8–13 Parental guidance recommended due to the level of violence and the realistic graphic effects.
Children over the age of 13 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Peter Pan (2003)
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Medium level violence
Length: 113 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This movie is a retelling of J.M. Barrie’s classic story of a young boy who never wants to grow up. Set in early 20th century London, Wendy Darling (Rachel Hurd-Wood) lives with her parents and younger brothers John (Harry Newell) and Michael (Freddie Popplewell, as well as their ‘nanny’, a St. Bernard Dog, complete with headdress. Wendy has a gift for storytelling and enthrals her brothers with fairy stories and tales of pirates. Peter Pan is an unseen visitor at these storytellings, until one day he appears to Wendy and wants to take her back to Neverland. Wendy wants to go but not without her brothers, so Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) teaches the three children to fly and away they go to Neverland, a fantastic place where good and evil are constantly at odds.

Peter Pan introduces Wendy to the Lost Boys, who have no mother, and they immediately want to adopt her as their mother. The Lost Boys build Wendy her own house and they love to listen to Wendy’s stories. The evil on the island is perpetrated by the wicked Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs) and his cutthroat pirates. Pirates have always fascinated Wendy and her brothers and now they are caught up in their own serious, swashbuckling pirate adventure. Captain Hook and Peter Pan are sworn enemies and it was Peter Pan who cut off Hook’s right hand, requiring him to wear his choice of hooks or claws to suit the occasion. Peter Pan has the fairy, Tinkerbell (Ludivine Sagnier), who is quite often a bad fairy, to help him. There are many battles in which Hook and his crew outnumber Peter Pan and friends, but they have magic on their side. At times it seems as if all is lost but good wins in the end and then Wendy and her brothers must decide whether to stay in the magical Neverland or return home to their parents.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Good versus Evil; Adventure; Fantasy; Pirates.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is a lot of violence in this movie, some of it comic, including:

  • The dog slides across the bank floor collecting Wendy and the post boy and crashes into the bank managers.
  • Tinkerbell attacks Wendy and pulls her hair because she likes Peter Pan.
  • Peter Pan throws Tinkerbell away.
  • Michael tries to fly and crashes onto the floor.
  • A pirate shoots at parrot.
  • Pirates blast cannon into clouds where the children are.
  • Hook stabs a pirate with his hook.
  • Tinkerbell puts fairy dust into a boy’s eyes, blinding him.
  • Tinkerbell gives the Lost Boys the wrong message to shoot at the children – Wendy falls to the ground, unconscious.
  • Peter Pan threatens to kill boys with a sword.
  • Hook threatens an Indian squaw with his hook to her throat.
  • Michael, John and Indian squaw are tied up with their hands above their heads, mouths gagged and lowered into water.
  • Hook shoots a pirate who falls into the water.
  • Hook aims a rifle at Peter Pan but misses, Hook and Peter Pan have several sword fights.
  • A pirate attacks Wendy who fights back with a sword.
  • Michael hits a pirate in the groin.
  • Peter Pan is trapped in a net which drops into the water.
  • Hook is about to cut Peter Pan’s throat when a huge crocodile attacks him.
  • Tinkerbell gets shut in a drawer and locked in a cupboard.
  • Hook tries to stab Peter Pan with his claw.
  • Hook puts poison in Peter Pan’s drink which Tinkerbell drinks instead and falls to the ground, dead.
  • Wendy is captured by the pirates, tied up with rope and threatened by Hook with a blade. She’s made to walk the plank.
  • Hook picks John up with his hook and kicks him.
  • Hook shoots two of the pirates.
  • Two pirates stab each other.
  • Hook strikes Peter Pan who falls on to the deck. Hook has him by the throat and he has blood on his face. Peter Pan almost dies.
  • Peter Pan comes back to life with great energy and blasts everyone off the ship.
  • The crocodile swallows Hook.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Wendy tells her brothers stories of pirates who, “claw your belly with an iron hook” and who have red eyes.
  • Peter Pan flies around the bedroom and when startled, rises up and sticks to the ceiling.
  • Tinkerbell opens the bedroom window and flies around the room as a bright light creating chaos, knocking books off shelves and messing up the room.
  • The pirate ship is a wreck and looks eerie.
  • The parrot has a wooden leg and screeches.
  • Hook is evil looking with dishevelled long hair, tattoos and his hook for a hand.
  • Michael and John knock on a large rock which turns out to be the head of a huge, monstrous crocodile which roars suddenly at the boys.
  • The mermaids are ghostly looking creatures with webbed hands. One of them tries to pull Wendy into the water – Peter Pan screeches at it who then screeches evilly back but lets go of Wendy.
  • Hook takes the boys into an underwater cave which is full of skeletons.
  • The boys and the Indian squaw almost drown in the water as they sink slowly into it.
  • Peter Pan talks in Hook’s voice.
  • Peter Pan climbs out of the water and up the bank over the skeletons.
  • The crocodile is very scary and roars up and snaps at Hook. In the final scene it swallows Hook.
  • One of the pirates has boils all over his face.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • The Lost Boys have no mother.
  • Michael and John get caught in a trap and hang upside down.
  • When Tinkerbell drinks the poison, her light goes out and she turns cold and dies. Peter Pan picks her up, carries her outside and cries over her, however, she does come back to life.
  • The above-mentioned scenes and images are also likely to scare or disturb children in this age group.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • While children in this age group may understand that this movie is just fantasy, they could still be frightened by the pirates attacking and threatening the children. They could also be frightened by the crocodile, particularly when it swallows Hook.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • There are no real sexual references; however, Peter Pan and Wendy kiss, as do Michael and the Indian squaw. It seems odd that children should be acting out adult concepts.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • When Michael and John are hanging upside down, their bare buttocks are exposed.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • When Wendy is captured by the pirates, she is offered Muscat or Rum to drink and a box of cigars.
  • Hook drinks something in a goblet.

Coarse language

  • None noted.

In a nutshell

Peter Pan (2003) is a good versus evil battle in which the ‘good’ side wins, though Peter Pan and Tinkerbell can also be quite bad, with Peter Pan being credited with chopping off Hook’s arm and feeding it to the crocodiles. The movie promotes childhood by encouraging fantasy and imagination and the desire to never grow old, and while the story of Peter Pan and Captain Hook has been done many times before, this version includes good graphic effects which make it interesting and exciting to watch. It is well acted and also contains a lot of humour which lightens the darker side of the story and is likely to entertain adults and adolescents. However, due to the violence and realistic graphic effects, this movie is not suitable for children under 8 and parental guidance is recommended to 13.

The main messages from this movie are to encourage and support fantasy and imagination and children’s sense of awe and wonder, while appreciating the duality of ‘good versus evil’.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Bravery
  • Loyalty.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Violence as a way to solve conflict.