We’ve had the origin story for Maleficent. We’ve had the origin story for the Wicked Witch of the West. Now it seems some industrious Hollywoodite has deemed that Peter Pan is due his origin story.
The set up is interesting enough: young orphan, Peter, is abducted to Neverland where he befriends Tiger Lilly, Tinkerbell and a young Hook and together they save Neverland from Blackbeard the pirate. The narrator is unequivocal about the central theme being best friends becoming enemies – a clear reference to the Peter/Hook relationship.
The problem is that by film’s end Peter and (now Captain) Hook are still friends! So the story, as a whole, feels unresolved.
Now, perhaps the intention here is to follow up with a sequel or (surprise!) a trilogy but the plot simply isn’t complicated enough to warrant it – we’re not talking Lord of the Rings here – and the story arc between these two characters could easily have been wrapped up within this sub two-hour movie. And given the unspectacular patronage to this film, it’s questionable whether a sequel would even be made.
The film’s other problem is its blasé presentation. It never ceases to amaze how Hollywood can make so little for so much money. So much of the budget seems spent on costuming, sets and set pieces, it’s as if the purpose of the expenditure is to distract the audience from the fact that there’s really not much going on. Colour saturation, bombast with occasional inexplicable lapses into song suggest a half-hearted attempt to ape Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge.
The film’s excesses are replete with bungy jumping pirates and curiously Caucasian ‘Native American’ acrobats – although strangely the Piccaninny elder is Aboriginal and their warrior is Asian. I guess they got some ethnicities in there, just not the right ones!
The result is a trippy Cirque du Soleil type experience that is kind of fun but ultimately vacuous and unsatisfying.