VISUALLY IMPRESSIVE, BUT NOT ENOUGH FAIRY DUST CAN MAKE THIS STORY FLY!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: C (2 1/2 stars)
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
From director, Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, The Soloist, Hanna) comes a prequel film based on the classic Peter Pan story. It seems like Peter Pan is the original re-imagining story, we had the classic Disney animated film, several stage adaptations, the Steven Spielberg movie, Hook that starred Dustin Hoffman and the late Robin Williams, and Universal's live-action adaptation from 2003 with Jason Issacs as Captain Hook.
Much like Hook, Pan isn't a re-imagining of the same old Peter Pan story. This film takes place before the Peter Pan story and explains how Peter first came to Never Land, how he learned to fly, and believe it or not there was a time where he and Captain Hook were friends.
When I first saw the trailer for the movie last year, I was intrigued by it, I'm getting sick of the same story of Peter Pan told over and over again (which is exactly why I appreciated movies like Hook), it's something entirely new made from the story, think of it as Wicked, but with flying pirates. I wasn't expecting a masterpiece or anything like that, but I wasn't expecting something terrible either.
And that's pretty much exactly what I got, the movie as a whole was okay, nothing awful but nothing great either, it's a passable children's movie with some impressive visual effects and talented actors leading the film.
The film starts off in World War II at an orphanage where 12-year-old, Peter (Levi Miller) lives a bleak existence, very much like the story of Annie, but set during a war. I say that because the orphanage is run by a ruthless owner who's been hoarding food, giving them several chores that are sometimes dangerous, and keeping secrets about the orphans from them.
One day Peter discovers a file left from his mother that tells him he is extraordinary and has special gifts, and she promises he will see her again, in this world...or another. While he and the rest of the orphans are sleeping, pirates under the commands of the ruthless, Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman-X-Men franchise, Flushed Away, Happy Feet) come in, abduct them, and take them to their flying ship to Never Land.
Upon getting there, Peter meets his new friends, James Hook (Garrett Hedlund-Tron: Legacy) and Indian princess, Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara-The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Her) and they set off on an adventure through Mermaid Lagoon, crocodiles, and the world of Fairies to stop Blackbeard from his evil schemes, save Never Land, and discover the truth about Peter's mother.
Overall, Pan is big on visuals but pretty short on story, what I mean is there are some plot elements during the film that make very little sense and it just left me confused. That and the plot overall is quite rushed in some places.
I was looking forward to seeing how Peter Pan and Captain Hook became enemies, but unfortunately it didn't happen. I wanted Hook to become the villain during the third act, it would have made a lot more sense than just saving it for some possible sequel or wink to people who have seen previous adaptations of Peter Pan.
The acting for the most part is decent, Levi Miller does fine as Peter Pan and I hope he moves on to more film projects in the future, Garrett Hedlund is an odd pick for Hook, but he's pretty likable, Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily was really strange casting, but she portrayed her okay and she got to kick some pirate butt. And now let's talk about Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard, Jackman pretty much makes the movie, he is so over the top and fun to watch on screen and you can tell he's having a great time with the performance, I loved him as Wolverine in the X-Men franchise and I enjoyed him here as Blackbeard too, so he's pretty much where the adult's appeal to the film is coming from.
Aside from Jackman and some impressive visuals, Pan is simply a basic kids film, nothing bad, but nothing that great either. It's a passable movie to take your kids to, but if you want a Peter Pan story that's much more engaging to everyone, this probably isn't for you, you're better off sticking to the original Disney Peter Pan, Hook, or the Universal Peter Pan.