This may not exactly be what you had in mind after waiting 12 years for new Peter Pan film adaptation, but who’s to say we needed one in the first place? The truth is, a couple years ago Once Upon a Time provided us with a really intriguing story arc based on the J.M Barrie play and book.
What we get here with Pan seems somewhat unfinished. The effects echo Spy Kids but lack its intent. But the vision is there amidst the oddities.
It’s an origin story about how Peter Pan’s legacy comes to be. Taking place in England during World War II, Peter, played by Levi Miller, gets kidnapped out of his orphanage by Neverland pirates. Throughout the film he is trying to discover what has happened to his mother and starts to uncover a prophecy that has him at the center.
We also see how he and Captain Hook meet. They are friends fighting for the same cause, and there is no sense of tension between the two in this story. Hook is played by Garrett Hedlund, who I’m not sure was the best choice for the role. But that could be director Joe Wright’s fault too. Hedlund, whom I’ve liked in his previous films, just didn’t fit here. He had Hook pinned as a Han Solo-esque hero, but if Han Solo delivered each line like a gravelly baseball announcer.
A highlight of this film was Hugh Jackman in the role as the antagonist, Blackbeard, who is the one in charge of the kidnappings. He enslaves children to mine for fairy dust so that he can stay forever young. Many of these details are too convoluted for a film aimed towards kids. It’s also a dark story in its details. One scene features the massive death of hundreds of fairies at the hands of Blackbeard’s men’s blowtorch.
On a side note, as these thousands of kids come out each day to greet Blackbeard they are, in unison, singing famous rock songs, such as Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.” It doesn’t make any sense, but neither do many of the weird subtle details of this film.
As particular as these nuances are, the filmmakers seemed not to care about the actions sequences being original or the sword play feeling realistic. Albeit it’s a kids movie and they probably don’t notice anyway, however they probably also wouldn’t be able to identify “Blitzkrieg Bop” either.
But I have to give the film credit for sticking to its vision, however strangely specific it may be. Also John Powell’s score compliments the unique feel well. And despite the scattershot direction and dialogue, there are surprisingly no serious plot holes.
It’s always interesting to get an origin story and the story itself was imaginative, but it’s too bad that we probably won’t get to see a sequel that details the falling out between Peter and Hook. And honestly, it would probably have been a pretty good movie.