Words by Ben Falk, Yahoo writer and journalist
Steven Spielberg and Walt Disney are just some of the visionaries who have turned to JM Barrie’s story of Peter Pan, Captain Hook and Neverland for inspiration.
Now, Kia’s new blockbuster three-minute short film, ‘Peter Returns’ does exactly that, though our hero’s traditional tights and green hat are replaced by an outfit that wouldn’t look out of place on the Starship Enterprise.
Taking its cue from recent virtual reality-filled romps like ‘Ready Player One’, the mini-movie is directed by award-winning filmmaker Philippe Andre, who turns Neverland into a gridlocked megalopolis under the influence of the malevolent tech tycoon, Hook.
You can watch the video below:
From his glinting skyscraper, atop which stands a silver hook, he looks down on the hapless paeans of the city who are denied the kind of automotive technology which sees him sweep unfettered along a road lane reserved exclusively for the Privileged Class.
It’s down to Peter, Wendy and Tinkerbell (a kind of magical piece of voice-activation software – with wings) to defeat him and unlock the potential of Kia’s future vision, allowing the populace to finally get their hands on the equipment and technology they deserve.
Andre’s cinematic influences are rife throughout. The urban claustrophobia of ‘Blade Runner’, tech wizardry you might find in something like ‘Minority Report’ and the kind of shiny dystopian future so beloved of directors from Kubrick to the Wachowskis. What’s different here, is that the technologies seen in the film are not just the dreams of science fiction. Smart biometric system features that recognizes your face and walking patterns to unlock the car, self-charging while running on the road and parking on its own are all being developed by the car company.
Andre even includes a final rooftop battle between Peter and Hook which recalls the nimble swordplay of Errol Flynn pictures.
“I concentrated all my efforts on the duel scene between Peter and Hook,” says Andre. “Peter wins not simply because he is as strong as Hook, but unlike Hook, he is smart. He fights against Hook in a clear way with the help of Kia’s concept car.”
One year in the making and shot in various locations including Spain, just designing the city of Neverland involved six months of sketches, storyboards and CG artists working to realise the brand’s vision. There’s also a cast of hundreds, dozens of costumes and some cool props, including Hook’s iconic prosthetic arm, here crafted to look something a Wakandan armourer might forge.
Strip away the futuristic tunics, avant garde tech and special effects however and at its core, the movie captures many elements of Barrie’s original – we may not see any Lost Boys, but what we do get is the story of two strong, young people teaming up to defeat evil.
And similarly, Hook is not a one-dimensional villain. Like in the novel, his nefariousness is borne out of confusion and fear, here blinded by the selfish belief that technologies should be the exclusive property of a few, not for all. By challenging the status quo and being prepared to experiment, Peter and Wendy are able to win. Hook, on the other hand, is fundamentally unable to recognise that for things to move on and improve, you also have to embrace change.
But how do you recreate the ending of Peter Pan when dystopian future cities aren’t exactly overrun with crocodiles? No spoilers, but ‘Peter’s Return’ comes up with a novel solution. Let’s just say it involves ticking clocks, cutting-edge sound technology (that’s Sound Focusing – a new innovation currently being worked on at Kia HQ) and a toothsome hologram.
Above all, the film manages to demonstrate that while automation and connectivity will be vibrant parts of our automotive future, none of that matters without the people who continue to revolutionise the industry, as well as the consumers who want to get their hands on the ideas they create.
For the full video of ‘Peter Returns’ and videos of the technologies described in the short film, please visit the Kia Motors website.