director: Joe Wright
writer: Jason Fuchs
starring: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund and Rooney Mara
genre: Adventure | Fantasy
released: September 24, 2015 (Australia), October 8, 2015 (Germany), October 9, 2015 (U.S.A.), October 22, 2015 (Greece)
based on the works: "Peter Pan" by J.M. Barrie
Major errors of judgement were made with the production of this film. For one it isn't a family film, nor is it a children's film, but a film meant for toddlers. With its tone being incredibly bright in color, quick and dumb downed. And finally having creative decisions that are so dubious and peculiar, that it destroyed any chances of a sequel or a return on box office. Making it one of the ultimate bombs of 2015, with no else to blame, but themselves.
During his infancy Peter (Levi Miller) is left at a London orphanage by his mother for unknown reasons. There he will start to become an adventurer at heart and somehow feel there is something more to his life. This will be proven true, when he is taken to Neverland and is told of a special prophecy. That a young boy would save the native tribes from the villainous pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) and have the ability to fly.
Peter will attempt to prove the prophecy's validity, with the helpful company of two local characters Tiger Lilly (Rooney Mara) and Hook (Garret Hedlund). Who together will do their best to defeat Blackbeard once and for good.
As with any other reasonable person out there, I can accept my fair share of changes from any source material and even from individuals who implement different styles and have alternative ideas on the adaptation of the said material (Titus, Alice in Wonderland). What I don't accept is a weird concoction of elements that a toddler might not be able process or question, but a tween will and an adult will not abide by.
This film begins with the historical setting of WWII and Peter Pan in an orphanage before he is taken off to Neverland. While there the tone of the film is unquestionably moronic and slap-sticky. Not necessarily caring about sinking us into the terrible setting of war, poverty and malnutrition Peter and the other boys at the orphanage might be facing. Instead, it forces on us one dimensional evil nuns that are just annoying with their ridiculous faces and get ups. Taking away precious time that could have been utilized by emphasizing on Peter lack of guidance without parents and his potential lashing out at authority.
Afterwards, when we are finally taken to Neverland and see for the first time imagery resembling the film's trailer. We presume things will get better, but then we get to the child labor ferry dust mine and it all changes for the worse. With the slave workers, including Blackbeard himself breaking into song and singing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and then later on "Blitzkrieg Bop". Saying this, I wish it made more sense, but it doesn't.
So what we have is a film that wanted to emphasize on the fact that Peter Pan was in a WWII orphanage during the bombing of London by the Nazis called the "Blitz", but has its main villain and group of child slaves sing songs of 1970's and 1990's era.. The biggest question anyone should ask is why was this creative decision taken so lightly? how come it wasn't ever vetoed? and why did they need to give the film a musical touch? This wasn't connected to the Disney films, nor did they try to in the end and also no one even asked for it. So what was the need for the characters to break character and sing songs that hadn't even been written yet? Just to be cool and different? Then if that was the point, do more of that and don't leave it only for two scenes and in a very specific location. But as you might have guessed. The rest of the film just moves past it and enters other areas of the peculiar and of the idiotic.
After that the film deals directly with Peter Pan's abandonment, but not with the drama that comes along with it. For example, every time Peter has a moment where he learns something new about his past, it's through a silly animation, devoid of emotion because this a film made for toddlers. Only on two or three occasions did the film actually have dialogue and no music to drown out the importance of the scene. But this was either short lived and then forgotten of with more moments of no importance such as the big eyed dino-birds and the half naked mermaid scene.
Yet, it doesn't stop there. As when someone thinks of a pirate such as Captain Hook or even a pirate in general you think British or a person with a British accent. Not mister oil man from Texas looking for the next gold mine or saloon gal. It's just a choice that is so out of left field that you don't know if to applaud it or to vilify it. Then we come to Tiger Lilly who is supposedly a member of the native tribe of Neverland. A native tribe that has members of all races. A progressive choice may I say taken, but choosing the main native character to be white and then the main native tribe member who knows martial arts to be Asian. Is a little off putting and too obvious not to point out.
Moreover, where the film really messes up things completely, is with the origin of Captain Hook as a honest, non sinister ally to Peter Pan. Which only perplexes things to how he would ever become his arch nemesis in the future. As their are no hints, clues or admissions of the character to being evil once in the past or having future sinister goals. Also, the story of Peter Pan's parents is just awful. With the film trying to tell us that a fairy can only turn into human form just for one day and because of this die. This subsequently means that Peter's father who was a fairy and wanted to save his mother. Did it only to save, but then impregnate her..? How does this make sense or seem remotely romantic? Its because it doesn't.
But wait there's more. The native tribe members that die in the film, all explode into color. Yep, they explode into color as if it was the "Color Run" of all things. Because already seeing earlier in the film a kid walk the plank, wasn't obvious enough to mean a death scene. We need people to die in explosions of rainbow colors so people understand death is a magical thing to experience.
Additionally, this film was supposedly made for the filmmaker son. Whom I have no clue what age he is, what opinion he has for his father or how much his father loves him. But, this is simply yet another case of an artist/professorial getting old and wanting to do something for their kids or grand-kids. Robert Rodriguez did the same exact thing with "Spy Kids", "Shorts" and "Shark Boy and Lava Girl" and Hollywood actors with playing in Marvel films only because their grand-kids will like them more. One of these decisions makes more sense over the other. As an actor can still act well in a film, no matter the subject matter. See Robert Redford or Michael Douglas in the Marvel films as great examples. However, when a filmmaker known for his dramatic films (Joe Wright) and violent and stylized action (Robert Rodriguez) enter the kids realm of cinema. Failure is due to come knocking on their door.
When you buy a Hasbro toy, it says on it something along the lines not for the ages of 5 and below. Meaning that this toy is meant for the specific age group for safety and entertainment purposes both in mind. Same could go for the film here. It is not intended for the ages let's say 7 and above. Otherwise serious damage will be done by realizing kids walk the plank, indigenous people die in color explosions and that fairies would give up their lives in a split second, just to have some good old human sex. Is this what we should call A-grade family entertainment nowadays.