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There are a lot of crazy costumes and extravagant CGI sets in this Peter Pan backstory

If there are such people as Peter Pan purists, they might want to give Joe Wright’s new adventure a miss. It features some notable deviations from the J.M. Barrie canon, including a significant jump ahead in era and the introduction of a two-handed character named Hook, who will later be known for … um … having a hook for a hand (convenient!). Oh, and the Ramones music.

The tale, ostensibly a backstory for Peter Pan, begins during the London Blitz. There, young Peter (Levi Miller) is living in a Catholic orphanage that has some sort of deal going where the nuns let the children be kidnapped at night by pirates. Pirates who fly in on a sailing ship, dodging both British and German war planes. 

Peter ends up in Neverland, which is a grim mining colony run by the fearsome (and fiercely made-up) head pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman, playing to the cheap seats). Blackbeard’s rousing introduction, to the crowd chanting the Nirvana drugs-and-ennui classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” bears an uncanny resemblance to the opening “number” in Max Max: Fury Road.

From this point, there’s a basic plot about Peter’s self-discovery and helping the “good people” of Neverland — i.e. fairies dressed up like Persian rugs — defeat the baddie Blackbeard. There are a lot of crazy costumes and extravagant CGI sets, but the basic story never rises to a compelling level. It concludes with plenty of room left for sequels, but I hope this is the last we see of this noisy, nutty Pan spin-off. 

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