J.M. Barrie’s classic children’s novel, “Peter Pan” has been reimagined in “Pan,” the fantasy adventure film that explains the backstory of Peter and how he arrives in Neverland.
What is important to note is that, although “Pan” is a decent film on its own, it may not live up to expectations held by devoted Peter Pan fans.
The film takes place during World War II-era London, where Peter is a 12-year-old boy who was dropped off at an orphanage’s doorstep as a baby, wearing a necklace with a pan flute charm. He was abandoned by his mysterious blonde-haired mother, Mary, played by Amanda Seyfried.
One night, Peter and many of the boys from the orphanage are kidnapped and brought aboard a pirate ship headed straight for the second star on the right, the magical land of Neverland.
Levi Miller portrays the rebellious and troublemaking Peter Pan audiences are familiar with who is defiant, courageous and free-spirited.
Although it is easy to assume that the film’s villain would be the red-coat wearing Captain Hook, the real enemy of this story is Blackbeard, played by Hugh Jackman. Blackbeard forces thousands of orphaned boys to mine in the depths of the island for crystalized fairy dust. Without much explanation, Blackbeard vaporizes the fairy dust and inhales it regularly to remain youthful, yet there is no moment within the film that explains why he is so intent on remaining immortal.
Jackman portrays Blackbeard as an over-the-top villain who is full of himself. Jackman is less intimidating than expected and more of a creepy, power-thirsty pirate who wears a lot of feathers.
While working in the mines, Peter meets James Hook, played by Garrett Hedlund, who is nothing like the Captain Hook most would be familiar with.
Hook comes off as a brooding, mysterious character, opposite from the charismatic and slightly kooky Captain Hook from the Disney movie, and takes an ironic interest in Peter.
Also, Hedlund incorporates an odd twangy country accent that is unusually strange and out of character and he continuously tries to over exaggerate his lines throughout the film with a growling sneer.
The next familiar character run-in is with the princess warrior, Tiger Lily, played by Rooney Mara. Unlike the meek and silent Tiger Lily from the Disney cartoon, Mara portrays a powerfully strong Tiger Lily who easily attacks and defeats pirates in the blink of an eye.
However, Mara sticks out like a sore thumb among her ethnic tribe and occasionally gives a contradicting performance, transitioning from an intimidating warrior to a giggly, flirtatious woman.
The strong-willed Tiger Lily and the adventurous Hook protect and mentor Peter as he attempts to fulfill the prophesy, in which Peter will defeat Blackbeard’s reign once and for all. However, Peter is more concerned with finding his mother, who he is convinced is in Neverland waiting for him.
Adeel Akhtar, who plays Smee, serves as the comic relief throughout the film with his witty, clueless humor as the stumbling, innocent sidekick.
The film overall was designed with much thought, contrasting Peter’s dark and hopeless orphaned life to the brightly colored, mystical adventure Neverland brings. In addition, the film’s score written by John Powell, with classical melodies and instrumentals, provided captivating background music to complete each scene with a whimsical tone.
However, the film as a whole was a bit of a disappointment. For those expecting “Pan” to deeply connect to former “Peter Pan” related films, the film creates a new story that is not necessarily compatible with the commonly known story of “Peter Pan.”
Although the film delves into Peter Pan’s past, the film never takes the time to inform audiences about the background stories for Blackbeard, Hook or even Tiger Lily.
In addition, there is little consideration toward tying the never-ending plot ideas throughout the film together, which raises a few question marks.
There are multiple moments throughout the film where storylines are briefly touched upon, but are never executed properly or described in detail, leaving many confusing holes in the plotline.
The film’s finale, in particular, fails to form a concrete connection with the familiar stories of “Peter Pan.” “Pan” ends with an “open to interpretation” ending, which is rather frustrating considering the film had potential to leave off where the original story of Peter Pan begins.
Particularly, “Pan” implies a budding romance between Hook and Tiger Lily, two unlikely characters to form such an emotional connection. Perhaps this plot twist was added to make the film more appealing.
Leaving many questions unanswered, the film attempts to incorporate hidden nods toward past “Peter Pan” films, yet inconsistently does so and without intending to connect any vital moments from the original Peter Pan story.
This, in addition to other characteristics that are unrelated to the original “Peter Pan,” is why “Pan” stands on its own as a film and should not be incorporated as an informative addition to the storytelling of Peter Pan.