Movies about a “Chosen One” are breathtakingly stupid. Why? Because characters rarely act like real people and arbitrarily react to situations in service of said prophecy. Double negative points go to a hero who deny their “destiny” because “they’re afraid” and everything will get resolved if they just “believe.” Say hello to the next entry in this long line of generic films, Pan.
So yeah, this isn’t the old Peter Pan story you’re familiar with (i.e. the Disney cartoon because I seriously doubt people think of the novel or play BEFORE the Walt Disney production). This is instead a prequel that sets up the meeting between Peter and Captain Hook, how Peter met Tinkerbell, and how Peter learned how to fly. Answering questions that you never ONCE gave a shit about when watching the original Peter Pan.
Therein lies the problem with prequel tales like this. We already know what becomes of all of these characters, and the film straight up expects you to know their fate. So we have a film where every character’s decision is to get them to the point they were at the beginning of their story. And that’s a shitty way to tell a story. It was especially true over a decade ago when we wrapped up Episodes 1 through 3 of Star Wars, and it was doubly true when they rebooted Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
The point is you don’t care what happens to anyone because you know if they’ll turn evil or they’ll survive to see the “real” story. And so we have it with the relationship here between Peter and Hook, who are set up as prisoners of Captain Blackbeard played by Hugh Jackman. And let me pull back the hate on this movie to briefly mention Jackman was the best part of this film. He’s over the top as Blackbeard, completely flamboyant and giving that ol’ Broadway performance for something so trivial. It works because it brings some color to the piece whenever he’s on screen and distracts you from the other leads who have piss all personality.
Going one by one, let’s tackle Peter first. Now Peter Pan was always the biggest asshole in modern literature, given he was the original “boy who never grew up.” His story began with him losing his shit over his shadow for fuck’s sake. When the film starts, you can see the kernel of the mischievous side of him, but it’s quickly abandoned for a complete scardy cat personality that just grates on you rather than making you sympathize with him. Not helping is that he only learns to fly and pull hitherto unknown superpowers out of his ass in the end, when he stops being such a wuss and learns to believe in himself…when this was never a problem at any point in his life.
Another character they cocked up was Captain Hook. Here he’s played by Gareth Hedlam (dude from Tron Legacy) who keeps switching between three or so accents in the entire movie. For the most part he’s acting like an American cowboy (despite never recalling a life outside of Neverland) and plays the part of a knockoff Han Solo to Peter Pan’s Luke. They even give him a Han Solo save moment at the end that’s completely unearned and once again, you don’t give a shit when he does help save the day. Throughout the movie, he just goes on and on with the silly accent as he has an awkward flirtation with Princess Tiger Lilly.
I haven’t made much of a fuss about Rooney Mara playing a Native American because she only comes in halfway through the film, and she’s basically generic fantasy warrior princess #437,658. There’s nothing interesting to her shtick and she’s mostly there to spout exposition to Peter and monologue about believing in yourself. Though I do question the logic in making the princess of a tribe filled with brown, black, and every other ethnicity under the sun as a white person. Though given how previous depictions of Native Americans in Peter Pan are ineptly racist, I don’t think most people are not going to give a shit for this one.
Partly because the film is just boring as hell with baffling scenes. You’re introduced to Blackbeard as his pirates chant Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Yes really. I think they also sing a Ramones song as well, but there’s literally no reason for the song choices since they don’t make a habit of repurposing classic songs into the context of the film.
In the end, there are some decent action scenes filled with color and brightness, but ultimately it’s all meaningless since you’re not invested in the characters’ story or care where or how they end up. There’s nothing special here to recommend to discerning viewers. If you have a kid, just rent this, since it’ll distract them for 2 hours. For everyone else, avoid it since this is…
SOME OL’ BULLSHIT.