Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"Visual indigestion and intellectual flatulence"

Like Alice of the looking glass, J M Barrie's Peter has had his fair share of reckless resurrections, the most extreme being this one. The boy himself (Levi Miller) is normal enough but his adventures in what might be dubbed a prequel to the Darling family's flight to Neverland are a grandstand for the dastardly Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman as Stanley Tucci) with a massive injection of CGI, implying that it should have been a 3-D animated feature rather than live actors in a cartoon world.

The plot - excuse the skeletal screams from JMB's tomb - is imaginatively bonkers. Peter is dumped on an orphanage doorstep at the age of dot by his loving, smartly dressed mother who looks pretty enough to be a contender on Strictly Come Dancing. Why is she abandoning him? What's her problem?

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He grows up with bossy nuns who follow the Philomena practice of selling their children to the highest bidder, in this case Blackbeard, captain of a pirate ship that flies the skies. He brings them to Neverland where they are put to work in a pitiless quarry bashing walls of granite with baby hammers for fairy dust.

Long story short: Peter rebels, joins forces with Tiger Lilly (a renovated Rooney Mara) and James Hook - in Barrie's original he was an Old Etonian; here he is a Young American (Garrett Hedlund) - who attempt to protect The Fairy Kingdom (Tinkerbell's people) without being forced to walk the plank.

The action is non stop which doesn't make it any better. Confusion reigns. Jackman is a one note rantbag and quickly irritates. His second in command, an African of Suma proportions, is all bark and no bite. Hook joins Team Pan in its guerrilla war against The Blackness. Later he will turn to the dark side, but not here, not yet.

There are CGI crocs and mermaids and fairies and ships. The actors must have lived on a green screen for months. Mara is accustomed to playing deeply damaged characters in hard edged thrillers (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Side Effects). This is a holiday for her. She can watch the sunsets and choose from a homegrown Native American wardrobe without being accused of retro piracy, while the junior lead (L Miller) doesn't hack it as Peter. His performance is earthbound and underpowered.

Director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) has been given the keys to Barrie's treasure trove. His excitement is palpable, his control weak.

Doctor's diagnosis: visual indigestion and intellectual flatulence. Cure: CGI rehab. Now!

Reviewed on: 08 Oct 2015
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A 12-year-old orphan is spirited away to the magical world of Neverland where he fights pirates to save fairies and ultimately discovers his destiny as Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up.
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Director: Joe Wright

Writer: Jason Fuchs, based on characters created by J.M. Barrie

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Levi Miller, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara, Adeel Akhtar, Nonso Anozie, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Burke, Lewis MacDougall, Cara Delevingne, Tae-joo Na, Jack Charles, Bronson Webb, Mike Shepherd, Brian Bovell

Year: 2015

Runtime: 111 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US, UK, Australia


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