All of us know the story of Peter Pan, whether it’s the Disney version or the original by J.M Barrie. But none of us know how the boy who could fly got to Neverland. Pan, from Berlanti Studios, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Entertainment, is the prequel to this beloved childhood story.
Pan first takes place in London, where the Peter’s mother (Amanda Seyfried) is leaving an infant Peter at an orphanage with a note and a necklace with a small metal pan-flute pendant on it. Flash forward about ten years, we see Peter (Levi Miller) as a young boy still inside the orphanage with his friend, Nibs (Lewis MacDougall). The boys get into different kinds of mischief, including going into Mother Barnabas’s (Kathy Burke), the head of the orphanage, private storage. Here, the boys see what she has been hoarding, along with all of the records kept in the building. Nibs finds the letter that was left to Peter by his mother in the files. After the boys are caught by Mother Barnabas, when they are going to bed, pirates on ropes come in and abduct many of the boys in the orphanage, including Peter. The pirates, on there flying pirate ship, then proceed to fly all the way to Neverland, where they all go to work in the Pixum mines for Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). Once there, Peter meets James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and Mr. Smee (Adeel Akhtar), with whom Peter forms an alliance with in order to escape the mines. From there, the three look for the tribe of “savages” that have been fending off the advances of the pirates for so long. After they find the tribe, Peter learns much of who he really is, what his destiny is and why is so important.
As with all movies, Pan had parts that were done well, and others not so much. What was done well was mostly the CGI and special effects of the movie. Being placed in a world that has flying pirate ships, giant skeleton birds, and a boy who can fly, means that the effects if the movie would have to be spectacular, which they were. Every effect was incredibly smooth and beautiful. The other thing that was most notable was Blackbeard himself. His eccentricity and slight over-the-top character went really well with the kind of world and atmosphere that Neverland was during this time. And he isn’t just an evil villain who only goes after one thing or just hates and chases the protagonist, he has a more fragile side to him. Whenever Blackbeard is talking to Peter about the island’s prophecy of a boy who could fly defeating him, you could almost see fear and sadness in his face. Hugh Jackman’s performance as Blackbeard was one of the really good parts of this movie, really even outdoing the performances of a good number of the other lead roles.
Pan, however, did have more negatives than positives. First, the story was lacking in many areas. The smaller, less significant plots in the story pulled a little too much attention away from the main plot. The smaller plots also weren’t as well developed and complete. Another thing that wasn’t too great was the connection between James Hook and Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara). The direction that the directors tried to go in with their connection was romantic, however the relationship between the two characters wasn’t built up enough for it to be successfully pulled off.
There was something in the movie that was neither good nor bad, but really just interesting. That was how the native tribe was portrayed and put together. Most of us remember from the Disney version of Peter Pan that the people who were from Neverland resembled a Native American tribe. In Pan, the tribe is actually a kind of mix-match of several different cultures. Without really being able to go into specifics, the tribe was made up of a few different Asiatic cultures, throwing into the mix some Australian Aborigine. Many of us more than likely expected the more Native American tribe from the older movie, but this was an interesting change. It most certainly fit with the strange land that is Neverland.
Overall, Pan was not a bad movie. The special effects, CGI, and villains were great. The story did, however, feel a little to empty and had to many things to kind of distract from the main plot. And the relationships between some of the characters, especially that of James Hook and Tiger Lily, weren’t very well done and felt a little more forced than it should have been. I give Pan a 2.5 out of 4 stars.