Loath as I am to say anything nice about Disney, the 1953 Mouse House animation Peter Pan is the only adaptation of the J. M. Barrie classic that ever worked. Just because the kid can fly doesn’t mean he’s a superhero and therefore, by today’s Hollywood logic, crying out for a friggin’ “origin” story.
While the overdesigned SFX are certainly ambitious, there’s no magic. It’s dark, shrill, narratively thin, and the only one having any fun is an unrecognizable Hugh Jackman as the megalomaniacal Blackbeard. James Hook (Garrett Hedlund, channeling Harrison Ford) is a good guy, the prosthetic-fitted pirate persona left for an unlikely sequel. Warrior-princess Tiger Lily is played by a bizarrely miscast (white) Rooney Mara. Newcomer Levi Miller in the title role, however, is not totally annoying.
The film lost me 20 minutes in, when Peter is greeted at Blackbeard’s “pixum dust mine” with an a cappella choral version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Seriously? Could this be the same Joe Wright who directed Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, and Anna Karenina? Bottom line: a totally unpleasant cinematic experience. And, no, I am not the first critic to observe that Pan is an unwise title for any film. Japanese title: Neverland, Yume no Hajimari. (111 min)