I don’t think the world was exactly crying out for a prequel to the Peter Pan story, and the worldwide box office proved it. This film was a big bomb. Partly it was the bad over-acting by Hugh Jackman as the Pirate Blackbeard and Garrett Hedlund as a young Hook before he became a captain. The kid playing Pan is nothing special, either. I will agree that the special effects, the design of the settings and the action sequences, are spectacular … but what movie isn’t, these days? The story is just one cliché after another, very little imagination on display.
The idea is that Peter was kidnapped along with a lot of other orphan boys and taken to Neverland, which is ruled by Blackbeard who puts everyone to work mining pixiedust in enormous open pit mines. This happens during World War II, so we get the bizarre spectacle of Spitfires trying to shoot down a floating pirate ship. There he meets John Hook and they become friends, sort of. Hedlund is trying very hard to be Indiana Jones, with a wisecrack every minute, but he’s no Harrison Ford. At the end of the movie they are still friends, and Hook still has his hand, so clearly they were setting themselves up for a sequel. Again, I don’t think the world is crying out for that, either.
I did learn a few things when looking up Peter Pan to see if any of this stuff was mentioned by Barrie in his play. I discovered that the Indians in the play were called the “Piccaninny Tribe.” Ouch! I remembered that in the Disney version they sang a song called “What Makes the Red Man Red?” One of the lyrics asked the musical question “When did he first say ‘Ugh?’” Ugh!