There have been many Peter Pan movies, most recently Steven Spielberg's star-studded but rather ghastly Hook, which pitched Peter as a grown-up, followed by P.J. Hogan's more traditional Peter Pan that reverted back to the original story.
Marc Forster's J.M. Barrie biography Finding Neverland took a completely different approach to examining the story by introducing us to the family that inspired author J.M. Barrie's original play, and the struggle he went through to write it.
In Pan, director Joe Wright creates his own interpretation of Barrie's story by taking the source material and imagining what came before, telling the story of how Peter found Neverland, and became Peter Pan.
Barrie's original play has also been turned into a musical and pantomime, and even though Pan is a glossy special effects-driven, humorous adventure flick, you can see the influence of these genres, as well as other adventure flicks from over the years, on Wright's film.
For kids, it's a captivating experience; well, for the ones I took, anyway. They loved meeting early versions of Peter, Tinker Bell and James Hook, before they turned into the characters we know. Those more familiar with the story may be surprised by the representation and casting of some characters, in particular Garrett Hedlund as Hook, and Rooney Mara (The Social Network) as Tiger Lily, previously considered a Native American character.
Hedlund presents us with a hardly recognisable Hook, channelling Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones down to the costume and humorous line delivery, and though Rooney may not fit the ethnic bill, she's the one character who quietly brings some heart to proceedings.
Peter Pan might be a product of the Edwardian era, but Wright stamps his mark on this story by moving Peter's story to London during World War II, the same era in which his seven times Oscar-nominated film Atonement was set.
The story plays out fine in London, but will no doubt seem an unnecessary move to die-hard Peter Pan fans.
We meet 12-year-old Peter, played in a straight, sweet manner by Australian newcomer Levi Miller, at London's Lambeth Home for Boys, where boys are mysteriously disappearing each night. Even though they are cruelly treated by Mother Barnabas (Kathy Burke), Peter is forever optimistic his mother will return and determined not to be taken. One night, as bombs drop on London, Peter's luck runs out as a group of Blackbeard's pirates in a flying ship capture Peter, whisking him away to Neverland.
Hugh Jackman, dressed up like a stylish, exaggerated Japanese warrior, uses his musical theatre skills to throw himself into the role of Blackbeard, welcoming the new orphans to his pixie dust mines with an unexpected rendition of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. Either Wright is testing the waters for a possible sequel to be a full-blown musical or it's a random tribute to Baz Luhrmann.
Either way, it's an example of the mish-mash of ideas thrown together into this film, all of which entertain, but overwhelm the story.
Hedlund and Jackman are both well cast, nail the humour and look like they're having a ball.
Only problem is there's not much to these characters and they're left to do the same hammed up performance throughout.
After Pan, Hook and comical sidekick Smee (Adeel Akhtar) escape the mines and find Tiger Lily's acrobatic people, the Natives, they team up to protect a secret fairy world from the greedy Hook. From here it's a game of cat and mouse, involving everything from large skeletal birds, giant crocodiles and mermaids to special effects-driven flashbacks and fight scenes.
Wright is known for his bold, rich visual style (think Atonement and Anna Karenina) so it's no surprise Pan is a lavish affair too.
The sets are beautiful, many are real as opposed to CGI-created, the costumes elaborate and the special effects look expensive. But collectively, it's all too much, and this sweet story about a boy looking for his mother and finding his place in the world is overpowered by how things look, rather than what we should feel.
Do we need another overblown, grandiose Peter Pan movie? Probably not, but the kids seemed to enjoy it.
Cast: Rooney Mara, Hugh Jackman, Levi Miller
Director: Joe Wright
Running Time: 111 mins
Rating: PG (Violence & scary scenes)
Verdict: Too dependent on special effects to be truly moving.