So Pan, I wanted to see this film when it came out. I love Peter Pan, I love the story, the character and have pretty much seen every version available. I of course love Hook, I think the Peter Pan (2003) film is my favorite, I like the animated Disney film Peter Pan, I liked Syfy’s Neverland two part thing and I did enjoy Once Upon a Time’s version of Peter Pan minus the stupid twist.
So, I was super excited for this one, I didn’t manage to see it in the theaters, so I waited till it was no longer a rental at my library branch. Then of course the casting controversy happened, which I will talk about later, bad reviews etc so I was little worried but I just watched it and here is my review.
Summary: 12-year-old orphan Peter is spirited away to the magical world of Neverland, where he finds both fun and danger, and ultimately discovers his destiny — to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.
Cast and Characters.
Garrett Hedlund as James Hook. I think Garrett Hedlund is a good actor. Every movie I’ve seen him in, I’ve more or less liked his character even if the movie sucks (Eragon). He’s cool though, I liked his friendly, almost big brotherly relationship with Peter. I also appreciate his character more when he’s not putting on a facade. I read that he was inspired by Hugh Jackman and tried to imitate him and I prefer when that kind of drops away at certain points. He’s also cute, I always found him cute so that’s also going for him.
Levi Miller as Peter. This is his first big film, it shows, but I think he holds his own well for the most part. He’s cute, he’s brave, mischievous and adventurous and when he’s afraid, he admits that he’s afraid. I think if this movie did well and there was a sequel, we would see more of him but this movie did not do well.
Huge Jackman as Blackbeard. I already love Huge Jackman and I enjoyed him here. He was really able to balance this character well, probably the best acted character in the film. Blackbeard could be really menacing and scary, at other times he could be amusing, or even pull a slight sympathetic feeling from me.
Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily. First of all, I’m going to talk about her more later, but she is a good actress, she was wrong for the part and she is not Tiger Lily but she did well int he film. The way I see it, she is not Tiger Lily. So without thinking the character is supposed to be Tiger Lily, she’s a cool character. She was brave, an awesome fighter and I loved her stunts during the climax at the end. I also liked her scenes with Peter, especially the scene in the mermaid pool.
Hook and Peter’s Friendship. Obviously we know what happens with them later, so I enjoyed the buildup of their friendship. They first meet in the mines where Blackbeard puts the orphans he steals. It’s kind of antagonistic at first but when they escape, it quickly begins to builds into a dependent relationship until Peter saves Hook from a fight. It develops into more of a friendship, or a brotherly relationship and I really enjoyed watching it progress. I think it was the strongest aspect of the film.
The look of the film. I liked a lot of the colors used in the Natives of Neverland’s village. I really liked the design of the mermaids, while they were all Cara Delevingne, I really liked how their tails looked to be made of pure light. The effects used to make the ships fly were cool. The beginning during the flying ship and the airplanes chasing it, the way the plane swirled and dived under the bridge and grazed the water… ahh it was so cool. The look of the alligator was pretty cool and terrifying, it was huge. I love it when they’re huge. We see Tinkerbell briefly and I loved the designs of the fairies. We could see legs and wings but their bodies were pure light, which goes back to the way the show would portray her, she was just a light and bells tinkling.
The Idea. I love the idea of a prequel story to Peter Pan. From the novel, we know that he ran away from home, so it’s easy to play around with that part just a bit. So to make him an orphan is a normal alteration. I like the idea of showing that Peter had a reason for going to Neverland even if it was unwillingly at first. I don’t spoil anything for anyone, but the addition with his parents, I thought was cute and I loved the connection with the fairies. There is this great scene at the end where the fairies come together to form a person, it was lovely.
The dialogue. Some of it was good enough to be memorable to me.
Hook: “I didn’t want to watch you die”
Tiger Lily: “You should have closed your eyes” lol, I don’t know why but that made me smile.
Peter Pan: “But you said… that your mother left you.”
Hook: “Yeah. I lied. I do that sometimes.It’s called being a grown-up!”
Peter Pan: “We’ll always be friends, Hook. Won’t we?”
Hook: Always. “It can’t possibly go wrong.”
The Hints of the Actual Story. I love the little hints to the Peter Pan story, or homages to older versions of the story. For example, when Tiger Lily is fighting Blackbeard, she knocks his wig off with her sword which is a throwback to Hook when Peter does the same thing to Captain Hook. When Hook is thrown into the dungeon, he tells Peter about a ticking noise he’ll hear due to a bomb but I think the ticking was a subtle hint to his fear of the clock. Or the scene in the mermaid lagoon, Hook is swirling his hand in the water, Tiger Lily tells him pirates are afraid of it because of the alligators and Hook yanks his hands out of the water. I cackled. Peter’s best friend in the orphanage is Nibs who is the lost boy in the rabbit costume or the kid with the long hair “who plans the battles” in Peter Pan (2003).
Tiger Lily’s Casting. Of course I’m going to reference this because it makes absolutely no sense. Why is this blue eyed Caucasian woman portraying a character who is supposed to be a Native? Everyone in her tribe are people of color, her father is played by an Aboriginal actor… so… why? I did give Rooney Mara props because she is a great actress but she was woefully miscast and no matter the excuse, it was wrong. This is a case where the ethnicity of the character does matter, not the best actress no matter the ethnicity. She should have least been a person of color if they felt they couldn’t find a suitable First Nation/Native actress.
Below are other actresses they could have chosen, doesn’t matter if she wasn’t a big name.
Jessica Parker Kennedy
Julie Jones (Yes the wolf chick from Twilight)
I read that Lupita N’yong’o and Pooja Hegde were both considered for Tiger Lily, that would have been better.
Garrett Hedlund’s delivery. This is both in the pros and cons because I thought it was weird. I liked it sometimes and at other times I was thinking ‘Garrett has a case of the over actor…’ and it worked sometimes and other times it was jarring. It was like he was too busy trying to be suave and charismatic while imitating Huge Jackman when all he needed to do was be himself or somehow add his own spin on the character because Garrett can be charismatic himself.
Tiger Lily and Hook’s romance. Now nothing really happens which I appreciate, but I don’t think their needed to even be a hint of it in the film. Is that why Rooney Mara cast so it wouldn’t be interracial? Of course I’m being petty but for real. However, I thought it was random how he all of sudden seemed to really care about her. He seemed to be attracted to anything pretty, they never really talked before he tells her that he didn’t want to watch her die. Then she seems to start to like him too, but when? Why? Unnecessary. Tiger Lily is normally Peter’s age, so is that also why they cast an adult? For the romance?
The Current Music. When we first get to Neverland, the people in the mines are singing a song ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana and I thought it was so random, not to mention they sing ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ by The Ramones… like what? Why?
The CGI. Ooo buddy, a lot of times it’s really bad. Like the look of those Neverbirds, when they first showed up, I really thought it was Tiger Lily using a trick to trap Hook, Peter and Smee. They were horrible. Not to mention, the part where Peter saves Hook at the end, that was pretty terrible. Even Peter’s flying scenes later, especially when the camera was on his face (at the end) was pretty bad), the effects for Peter’s flying in the Peter Pan (2003) was much better. Also, all the scenes of running through the forest… you can tell they’re running on a treadmill in front of a green screen.
The Nuns. They weren’t really nuns I guess, but what was up with them?? I mean, was the main nun a pirate? They let Blackbeard’s crew kidnap the orphans in their care… what for? It was never talked about. Weird.
Overall, the movie wasn’t as bad as I heard. I didn’t really read or watch any reviews so this isn’t influenced. I mean, it’s not great but it had potential. They should have taken more care in casting Tiger Lily, Hedlund should have let the Jackman impression go and do his own thing, the CGI was pretty bad, there are unanswered question about the nuns and the music used in certain areas was jarring. However, the characters were interesting, Levi Miller held his own as Peter, Hugh Jackman was major positive, and the friendship between Hook and Peter was the strongest aspect of the film, I’m glad they made that a focal point.