Before I discuss, here's the trailer:
In my mind neither Pan nor Tink are exactly sweet (they're actually a little frightening in some ways) but the rest of Neverland and the surrounding story by Barry are more "light-childhood magic" than using dark, looming adolescent themes. I think that's an important aspect of the Peter Pan story, particularly as it deals with the joys of childhood (which might be nice to see an example of, since that's barely acknowledged anymore in any child shown in the media that's over five years old, though true childhood extends far longer) and why you might not want to grow up.
In case you're not aware, this is a prequel to Barry's classic, how Peter became Pan, so you'd think it would be focused on the POV of a child, but this trailer isn't telling me that at all.
I think this is perhaps my main problem with making all adaptations "dark". Mostly, they're not truly adult versions but instead they teeter on that YA/New Adult precipice where everything is uncertain and generally not quite as straightforwardly free and joyful as children's storytelling and tales, yet these versions also aren't layered enough to properly explore the raised issues.
There's no doubt our culture is youth-skewed, but with a specific YA focus still being dominant in both TV series and novels, children aren't getting much of a chance to be "real and as naive as they should be children" either. Children's entertainment these days seems largely to talk down to children, or is so filled with "educational value" so that there isn't that escape into the imagination that children need and crave, where they can explore and learn on their own. Instead, ironically in this case of a Peter Pan interpretation, they're encouraged to "grow up".
As a parent whose son is just the right age to introduce to wonderful worlds of live action fantasy and imagination with a little (but not too much) danger, I'm finding a lot of modern movies just aren't up to the task and I'm having to hunt down DVD transfers of much older classics. What's missing in children's movies at the moment is straight forward (fairy) tales that allow the child/person to enjoy and take them at face value but also have enough layering (yet not too much explanation and detail to make it so specific) that allows a stretching of the imagination and new understandings of themes when the child is ready to go there.
One thing is certain: this version of Peter Pan isn't going to address that issue at all. It's going for that elusive pre-teen male demographic that's so hard to attract. But I'm not certain it's hitting the mark there either. Just look at the posters. Not a single smile or overall joyful palette of color. Where is the humor, the sense of fun, the role play? The magic here is "serious" and Neverland does't really look like somewhere a kid would want to stay...
Note: Pan is set to open in theaters on July 24th.