I wanted this movie to be a magical time. I wanted it to combine the cozy familiarity of a known childhood story with the beauty of the fantasy genre. I was thinking Stardust goes to Neverland. I was dreaming of sexy Garret Hedlund Captain Hook. I was on board for gorgeously dressed fairies. I had even braced for however they decided to handle the tribe aspects, whether they went uber sensitive or super stereotypical.
Honestly, I think they thought they delivered what I was expecting. I get the feelings they sat there once it was all said and done and thought they had a beautiful fantasy movie that was gonna rock my socks off. But they failed. This movie was not the pleasant stroll through beautiful scenery, engaging action, and enjoyable dialogue. It was also not an adorable kid’s movie. It was the movie equivalent of getting an ice-cold soda from a fountain only to find out that the syrup:carbonation ratio was off. I was expecting a sweet beverage that livened up my mouth with pinpricks of pleasure but instead I got too much effort from the punch of carbonation without the magic sugar to make me smile. All fizz and no real pleasure should be my tagline for this review.
The acting. I am pained to say that the acting is sub par, disappointing, lackluster, and at times painful. I’ll start with the one performance that didn’t detract. Hugh Jackman was a pretty okay Blackbeard. He managed depth. He disappeared in the character and managed to make it work. He gets the only “good enough” from me for this movie.
Levi Miller was not good enough as Peter. I almost feel like someone told him how to say every line and he just mimicked them. He wasn’t good at interacting with the CGI. His emotional range was pathetic. You may be thinking, “Yeah, but he is a little boy. Cut him some slack.” No, I won’t. In this he is not a child but an actor. He took money. He made a contract. He committed to the work. So I am allowed to comment on his failure to live up to the role without caring.
Rooney Mara seems to have been confused about how to play her part. Sometimes she was coy. Sometimes she was moody. Sometimes she was a strong female. Never was she consistent in how she played the character. She didn’t seem to think about how the character would emote in a given situation. Instead, she just read the scene and emoted in the most obvious way without caring if it was in keeping with previous moments. And yeah, it was odd to have Tiger Lily be played by a white girl but that could have been overlooked if she had brought the character to life. I don’t want to go on a rant about casting races but just look at who got cast as an extra and who got cast as a character with an individual presence.
Adeel Akhtar was lame. He was poser hipster Smiegal. Does that sound stupid to you? It should. Granted, the character from the classic movie was just as bad. But this guy gets no credit for consistency when the character was worthless.
Garret Hedlund hurt me with his performance. I’ve seen him do well in failure movies, Eragon, and I’ve seen him in good movies. I know he can be compelling. I know he isn’t just a pretty face. So I’m going to make excuses for him and say that I think someone must have made him play the role like this. He has to have a real reason for what he did. It was like someone said to him, “You have to overact. Move your head oddly and angrily when you are emoting. You’re at your best when you acting like someone in a skit at a team building conference. Loud, big movements, and exaggerated facial expressions keep the audience engaged and show that you really care. The harsher your head jerks the more serious you seem.” It was terrible. It hurt to see such a pretty man act so poorly. I would rather have seen a Hook that under acted than what we got.
Finally, there were the mermaids…all the same actress. Pointless, terrible creative choices.
The acting wasn’t the only issue. The music was a big issue for me as well. There was a completely pointless sing along moment with Blackbeard. This was a terrible creative decision. The song didn’t fully fit. The lyrics only made sense in context if you tried really hard to find symbolism that, in all honesty, doesn’t really exist. The entire thing was probably the brain child of someone and for some reason it wasn’t cut or edited. It wasn’t an experience that was repeated either which made it even more worthless. It was a cheap trick to create mood and engagement and it didn’t even do it well. Fail. The rest of the score was not memorable.
And then there was the plot. The…”plot”. It actually wasn’t bad for an origin story. Sure, there was a lot of lazy writing. Sure, there was a lot of blah. But at least the story made sense and didn’t do anything for the sake of being edgy. But is also wasn’t the story it needed to be for one reason that makes me angry. They want to make another movie that would also take place before the classic movie. We spent all out time validating Peter as a flying hero and beating Blackbeard thus creating a power vacuum. We learned so much about Peter’s mother. We spent what felt like forever trying to save a pretty sparkly tunnel. But we didn’t even begin to develop the characters into what they will eventually become. Did you expect Hook to become a bad guy by the end?
He isn’t. The movie ends with so much gap in the back story still that there is no other answer than they expect to make another prequel. That makes me angry. They cheated us out of real emotional conflict just because they thought their oatmeal plot would do well enough to green light another project. So now we will never get to see Garret go evil or enjoy his emotional turmoil, maybe a blessing with how he acted the role, because there is no way this movie did well enough to be continued. This was selfish. Ugh. So angry.
And for all that, all the poor acting choices, all the filler plot, the effects are not spectacular. This is at least supposed to be a beautiful movie. It may be in 3D. But I see no value add in 3D so I saw it in 2D. The sparkles are dark. The forest is boring. The monster in the forest is like Kevin from Up. I read reviews that said the movie was beautiful if nothing else. These people must have had their bar lowered considerably by the rest of the movie.
Verdict: Just not really worth it. It’s sad to say but this movie was just a let down. I couldn’t even lie to myself. Not even a pretty man could make it worth seeing again. Don’t waste your time on this. It is not nostalgic. It is not exciting. It is not even a decent waste of your time.