“Pan” is the newest retelling of the Peter Pan story directed by Joe Wright. “Pan” starts off with an orphaned boy named Peter who is whisked away by Pirates and taken back to Neverland, under the rule of Blackbeard. Those enslaved by Blackbeard are in the service to mine for pixie dust. Along the way Peter meets James Hook and Tigerlily, who claims that he is the chosen warrior that has been foretold to bring balance to the fairy world, if he can prove his worth by flying.
“Pan” is considered to be a prequel of sorts to the original Peter Pan myth, originally created by author J.M. Barrie. Like many Peter Pan legends and films that come before it, “Pan” has a lot to live up to and is it worth the trip to Neverland? Sadly, it is not. “Pan” starts out very interesting. The film takes place during World War II and we see a really cool battle between fighter planes and Pirate ships in a stunning visual experience that I wanted more of. However once Peter arrives in Neverland, the magic ends there. The story itself is muddled with holes and there is a sequence where Tigerlily explains the prophecy of the boy who can fly and the fairy kingdoms and it makes absolutely no sense. There’s another sequence where the inhabitants of Neverland break out in song to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” before transitioning to “The Blitzkrieg Bop,” which has no relevance and is extremely out of place. I thought the film took place in the WWII era? If that’s so, why are these characters singing 90’s music. I was scratching my head in the theater.
As far as the actors go, they are terrible. Levi Miller who plays Peter is a whiney, annoying and unbelievable version of Peter that I never bought, nor could root for. And the worst part of this film is the character of Hook who is played by Garrett Hedlund. Hedlund has this awful sounding voice which sounds a lot like Daniel Day Lewis from “There Will Be Blood.” It is so over the top and is excruciating to watch. Rooney Mara is awful as Tigerlily in a very miscast role. That was the other odd thing about this film. The natives are supposed to be Indians, and none of them were. They were either all-white, some Asian and some African American. They were all a mixed race of people which also made no sense. Rooney Mara has never done much for me as an actress, and here in this film her acting is an abomination. The biggest standout in the film is Blackbeard played by Hugh Jackman. Jackman does the best job that he can and he is so over the top, but nonetheless he is the most entertaining thing with this movie.
Here’s what doesn’t work with this film. Peter and Hook are best friends. Hook is a good guy which basically betrays the Peter Pan mythology and he has a romance with Tigerlily. Hook is never menacing, cruel or even evil for that matter and the way the film ends, there is no Captain Hook insight that we know from the source material. I wanted to pull out my eyes and yell at the filmmakers for doing this. For many years, I thought it would have been cool to see Hook vs. Pan. I wanted to see how Hook lost his hand to the crocodile, an epic battle of good vs. evil and with “Pan” we get none of that. I think the filmmakers were hoping to make more of these films that lead up to that, but this movie is a disaster on so many levels, I think the hope for that is gone. As much as I enjoyed the visuals near the beginning of the film, it seemed like the special effects artists gave up for the rest of the movie. Everything looked so incredibly fake and you could see the green screen effects multiple times. There are these giant Neverbirds that Peter rides, and my mouth just fell open at how bad they looked. The visuals really ruined this film and what astonishes me is that if you go back almost twenty years into the past and look at Spielberg’s “Hook,” and compare it to this film, “Hook’s” special effects look 100 times better than this film. That is just flat out embarrassing.
“Pan” is a visual nightmare with a poorly executed story that betrays everything Peter Pan stands for. The film is lifeless and lacks the magic that previous incarnations had before it. J.M. Barrie is most likely rolling in his grave. I don’t understand today’s Hollywood, making classic villains the good guys or the “misunderstood” characters. NO!!! Hook is supposed to be evil and keep him that way! Kids might enjoy this film because it tries to be fun, but I say show them the other Peter Pan films; show them “Hook,” or the 2003 version of “Peter Pan.” They are way better than this garbage. I was thoroughly disappointed with “Pan” and I cannot ever recommend people seeing such a betrayal to the boy who never grew up.