I ignored the bad reviews. I like cheesy movies, and I love Peter Pan. I figured, how bad could it be?
To the number of reviewers who said things like, "This is not the Peter Pan I know," I would argue that this is an original work and, as such, is required to bring its own interpretation to the characters and the story. That being said, it is still responsible for the choices that it makes for those characters and story...most of which make absolutely no sense.
Why is Hook an American cowboy? He is given no backstory whatsoever, which seems an odd choice for a prequel which is ostensibly introducing the character. In addition to that, his accent is so cartoonish that at first I assumed the actor must actually be foreign (no, he was apparently born in Minnesota), and his outrageous over-acting makes me want to throw something at the TV every time he opens his mouth.
Why change the real world setting from Victorian times to World War II? It's an interesting choice, but other than giving the pirate ship a chance to have a brief and gratuitous air battle with the Luftwaffe, it seems to hold no purpose. SO MUCH could have been done with that idea, and instead it's a total throwaway.
WHY DO THE SLAVES SING "SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT"?? It was jarringly out of place, and the only hint at an explanation is Blackbeard's line shortly thereafter about Neverland "spanning all places and all times" or something like that. Like so many other things in this movie, it could have been a good idea, but was poorly executed and instead just felt random.
The movie is visually stunning, and young Levi Miller is definitely a talent to watch. Hugh Jackman chews up the scenery entertainingly. These facts bumped my review up to 2 stars. The movie has few other redeeming qualities. It's filled with interesting concepts, but no overall narrative structure to actually develop those concepts into a real perspective. It's difficult to imagine how the serious little orphan in search of his mother and the self-confidence to fulfill his destiny will become the carefree boy who refuses to grow up.
If you're looking for a prequel to Peter Pan, check out Nick Willing's 2011 "Neverland" TV miniseries. It too takes the position that Hook and Pan were friends before they were enemies, but unlike this movie, it actually shows the disintegration of that friendship as well, and truly sets the stage for the story that we all know and love. This one just falls flat.