Steven Spielberg’s $70 million post-Freudian, revisionist sequel (1994) to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, with Wendy now 80 years old (played by Maggie Smith) and Peter (Robin Williams) married to her granddaughter (Caroline Goodall) and working as a Wall Street lawyera character, one suspects, who is rather like Spielberg himself. Tinkerbell (a miniature, matted-in Julia Roberts) carries him back to Neverland to confront Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) and his sidekick Smee (Bob Hoskins) after his kids (Charlie Korsmo and Amber Scott) are kidnapped. The drama centers on Peter’s efforts to remember his past and, with the help of the Lost Boys (now a gang of ghetto urchins), win his son back from Hook, who has usurped his paternal role. (Perhaps the biggest failure of imagination here concerns what little girls are supposed to do in Neverland.) In overall narrative sweep and directorial confidence it’s a decisive return to form for Spielberg, who borrows liberally from his own 1941 as well as Altman’s Popeye to get some of his best comic and pictorial effects. But conceptually speaking, the amount of mental machinery required to get Peter flying again yields an overall self-consciousness that the movie never quite recovers from, and the moment-to-moment inventiveness never fully compensates for the thinness of the characters. Written by Jim V. Hart, Malia Scotch Marmo, and Nick Castle Jr. PG, 144 min. (JR)

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