Director Joe Wright’s attempt to reinvigorate Peter Pan flourishes at points, but ultimately flops. Peter (Levi Miller) is inappropriately given a south London accent that drops every ‘T’, when J.M. Barrie surely intended him to have a perfectly posh persona. The film inexplicably leads you to empathise with villain Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman), yet at other times mandates that you feel the complete opposite. He promises to reward children with ‘confectionary’, but moments later forces them to walk the plank.
Peter’s roommates, having been usurped from Lambert Boys’ Home by pirates on a giant floating ship, arrive in a pixie dust mine in Neverland. As the ship enters the children are afforded a pirate rendition of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, a song that is hard to tie into film’s wartime setting, though perhaps Wright inadvisably intended this as some kind of magical nirvana. ‘Is this Canada!?’, Peter questioned.
"the children are given a rendition of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, which is hard to tie into film’s wartime setting"
The film is saved by several creative forces. John Powell’s soundtrack, stunning visual effects, Garrett Hedlund’s American rough-guy portrayal of James Hook and the breath-taking costumes of the natives, especially Princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), counterbalance the film’s abrasiveness. Peter’s self-determination grows throughout the film, until at just the right moment, he is able to fly and rescue himself, Hook and Tiger Lily, not to mention the Fairy Kingdom. His journey to find his mother (Amanda Seyfried) is an emotional one, yet ends with a cringey scene where a tearful Peter proclaims that he ‘thinks about [his mother] every day’, to a look of maternal shock: ‘Really!?’.
We didn’t really need a prequel to Peter Pan, but even if we did then Wright’s attempt at creating one is farfetched and unrelatable. A surprisingly dramatic soundtrack and visual effects make-up for a film otherwise devoid of that magical touch.
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