If there are such people as Peter Pan purists, they might want to give Joe Wright’s new adventure a miss. It features some notable deviations from the J.M. Barrie canon, including a significant jump ahead in era and the introduction of a two-handed character named Hook, who will later be known for … um … having a hook for a hand (convenient!). Oh, and the Ramones music.
The tale, ostensibly a backstory for Peter Pan, begins during the London Blitz. There, young Peter (Levi Miller) is living in a Catholic orphanage that has some sort of deal going where the nuns let the children be kidnapped at night by pirates. Pirates who fly in on a sailing ship, dodging both British and German war planes.
Peter ends up in Neverland, which is a grim mining colony run by the fearsome (and fiercely made-up) head pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman, playing to the cheap seats). Blackbeard’s rousing introduction, to the crowd chanting the Nirvana drugs-and-ennui classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” bears an uncanny resemblance to the opening “number” in Max Max: Fury Road.
From this point, there’s a basic plot about Peter’s self-discovery and helping the “good people” of Neverland — i.e. fairies dressed up like Persian rugs — defeat the baddie Blackbeard. There are a lot of crazy costumes and extravagant CGI sets, but the basic story never rises to a compelling level. It concludes with plenty of room left for sequels, but I hope this is the last we see of this noisy, nutty Pan spin-off.