Another in a line of 2015 films I really wanted to love, “Pan” left me bored, and asking did we really need a prequel? Did we really need to end the movie on Peter and Captain Hook giving one another uncomfortable glances knowing soon they’d become deadly nemeses? Why is Captain Hook called Hook if he doesn’t even have a Hook? Why is Tiger Lily played by a Lily White Actress? Hey, at least Hollywood keeps giving consistently flat Rooney Mara jobs, and turns Tiger Lily in to the heroine of a movie that’s supposed to be about Peter Pan. Or is he Peter who is a Pan? Or is he a Pan Warrior Named Peter?
“Pan” is a brutally cliché and derivative prequel and origin story of Peter Pan and how he once met Captain Hook, a vicious future villain who initially began as a friend and ally of Peter’s. Hook is an adventurer of a sorts. I think. There are absolutely no seeds planted for Hook to become a villain in the film, so his transformation, even when the credits roll, seems absurd and far-fetched. If you’ve never seen or heard anything about Peter Pan in your life, you’d never guess Peter and Hook would become mortal enemies, with Hook so hell bent on defeating Pan he’d resort to murder on occasion. It’s really hard to believe the Southern adventurer played by Garret Hedlund would suddenly become a twisted pirate in the vein of the film’s villain Blackbeard.
Blackbeard is Hook, an old man chasing youth and trying to outwit father time, except Hook is now just more of a hero who helps create the character known as Peter Pan. Nothing about “Pan” is well conceived, beginning as a lame take on “Oliver Twist,” and then transforming in to a bleak visit to Neverland, where Peter is “The Chosen One,” and he is the key to some magical maguffin that all of the characters are looking for. “Pan” is a joyless iteration of Peter Pan, preferring to take more interesting ideas and then turning them over to more grim circumstances. Peter doesn’t even discover his ability to fly until the climax where he throws himself off a plank in to a potential death, which then allows him to learn how to fly.
His sudden declaration “Think Happy Thoughts” upon battling the stock villain comes off as a cheesy bit of lip service for fans of the story, and feels painfully out of context. Nothing about “Pan” really understands the idea and concept behind Peter Pan, as it presumes fairy dust is the key to Peter’s ability to fly, turns Peter in to some hybrid of magical characters and even turns Tinkerbell in to a very minor character tacked on for a cameo. Even with its excellent special effects, it’s a shame to see Wright and co. completely turn it in to a flat, and boring prequel we never asked for in the first place.
Featured on the Blu-Ray is a commentary with director Joe Wright, if you’re willing to sit through “Pan” once again. Wright sparks some insight in to his use of CGI, and the relationships in the film, including with Peter and his mother. “Never Grow Up: The Legend of Pan” is a ten minute segment exploring the evolution of Peter Pan, JM Barrie’s original writing, and offers no mention of other iterations from Disney. “The Boy Who Would Be Pan” is a look at actor Levi Miller, who plays Peter, and the casting process. “The Scoundrels of Neverland” is a six minute exploration of Blackbeard and his pirates. Finally, “Wondrous Realms” is a five minute tour of Neverland, the practical sets, artist renderings, and the CGI creations.