WARNING: This review may contain spoilers. As all reviews do. If you scroll further, it is your fault that things were spoiled for you.
As a fan of literature of all eras, it takes a lot for me to say that a book is my "favorite". However I feel comfortable in claiming that Peter Pan, a novel written by J.M. Barrie in 1911 and performed in plays the years before that, is one of my favorite classic children's literature of all time. Which is why when I watched the trailer for Pan, which aired late 2015, I was genuinely excited. My little nostalgic brain got all in a tizzy. I knew I was going to want to watch this as soon as I could.
I was wrong. So, so very wrong.
Here's a little background for this story. Peter, a 12 year old boy, is abandoned in an orphanage by a mother who clearly loved him but couldn't care for him. The orphanage is staffed by generally abusive adults, like all British settings, and during a bombing raid in WWII, one of the nuns gets pirates to kidnap Peter and his friends. They get whisked off to Neverland, where the boys are forced to work mining Pixie Dust, so Blackbeard the pirate can have everlasting life. Peter and Hook oddly team up so that they can escape. And so the movie drones on for three entire hours. This is meant to be a prequel to the story we all know where Peter meets Wendy, John, and Michael.
Now. I'm going to break this movie down for everything that's wrong with it. Step by step.
1) Peter Pan, as stated above. Was written in 1911.
So from the beginning, I had an unsettled feeling in my stomach. How, pray tell, could Peter Pan have a prequel set in the 1940's, 30+ years before the Wendy John and Michael story? I have absolutely no idea why this time period was chosen. I get that WWII was a very significantly horrible time for the United Kingdom, the city of London was bombed so many times that they had to send their children away for safety. However, it adds nothing to this story for me except for confusion. Its deplorable. Who's brilliant idea was it to set a PREQUEL in a future time period from the original Peter Pan story. Not even 5 minutes into the film, and I'm already upset.
2) Peter Pan's conflicts were completely obliterated.
The entire point of Peter Pan was that as a child, he ran away from home because he didn't want to grow up. It's that simple. Not that hard to screw up. His entire internal conflict was deciding to stay in Neverland and always be a boy, or to go back to Earth and have a real family. While in Neverland, Peter grows to a 12 year old boy, and forgets his family, and usually anyone else he comes into contact with. This film completely stripped that conflict when they gave Peter COGNITIVE MEMORY of an orphanage, and a longing for the mother who gave him up. It just doesn't make sense. It gives the Peter in this new film a completely different conflict, where he WANTS to escape and go home and find his mother. It just doesn't build up for later stories, where Peter drags Wendy, John, and Michael away to Neverland to stay with him. I just don't understand why such an important plot point had to be torn to shreds.
3) This movie destroys good songs, for no good reason.
I sh** you not, I stared at the screen, mouth gaping, for a whole 60 seconds, because I couldn't believe what I was seeing. During the scene where Blackbeard's ship lands in the mines of Neverland, so that the boys can meet Blackbeard, all the captured miners and the pirates erupt into a TERRIBLE rendition of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. I almost didn't recognize it. I was just completely shocked. The song had no place in the story, the lyrics had nothing to do with the plot, it was just...there. It almost felt like the people controlling this embarrassment of a movie said "Oh, we haven't completely blown our $150 million budget on CGI yet? Let's buy the writes to use a famous song, just because we can." They did this later on in the film with Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones. Ironic, considering the WWII scenery in the beginning of the film. Regardless, it made my blood boil.
4) So much CGI, I was already bored of the antics.
CGI has done wonderful things for films in the recent years. We've been able to take leaps and strides to make movies a memorable experience, to make them larger than life. Movies from Marvel, DC, and other fandoms have come to life before our very eyes. However, CGI can be done wrong, so very wrong. Does everyone remember Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? No, I don't mean Gene Wilder. I mean the horrendous version by Tim Burton, who brought the respect I had for him to shame. This version of Pan was on THAT CGI level. The CGI in Pan was overdone, and half the time it wasn't done well. It was just a bombardment of the senses.
To me, if a movie has to rely more on CGI to attract viewers, rather than making a film with quality plot and acting, then that movie has failed. Its high time movie makers learn their mistakes, before they lose money like Pan did.
5) Hook and Pan's friendship didn't make sense.
While watching this film, I was looking for even a hint that we would see character development that would lead to the Pan story we all know. We all know Captain Hook is a devious pirate, who turns against Pan after he cuts his hand off and feeds it to a Crocodile. I was even hoping that scene would happen in this film. I would have actually given this movie some good credit.
No. None of that happened. This movie ended with Hook and Pan's unlikely companionship staying the way it was, with no hint of malice. No hint that Hook would betray Peter in the end. It is almost as if they are looking for a sequel, which I hope will never happen. This movie, like I said, lost money. So most likely there won't be a sequel.
6) Peter played a secondary role IN HIS OWN MOVIE.
The title here is self explanatory. Peter did next to nothing to push the plot of the movie forward. The only responsibility Peter held was to learn how to fly, and become "Pan." He played a secondary role, in a movie that was titled after him. He wasn't the arrogant, immature, playful, takes nothing seriously boy that Pan was written as. He was....selfless and pretty non essential. It just didn't make sense.