Written by Jason Fuchs / Directed by Joe Wright / Starring Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlun, Rooney Mara and Levi Miller
Peter: I don’t believe in bedtime stories.
J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan has officially been done to death. It is time for all of us to grow up, even just a little, and admit that there is nothing more left to do or that should be done to this timeless classic. And just in case this point had not already been proven, Joe Wright’s Peter Pan prequel, entitled simply PAN, has come along to make the point once and for all.
Screenwriter Jason Fuchs takes us all the way back to when the boy who never wanted to grow up was just a babe, dropped off at an orphanage. His mother vows to come back from him one day but we all know how this story plays out. Flash forward twelve years later and it seems that Wrightknows exactly how this should play out as well. He gives us a run down orphanage run by angry nuns who serve the boys slop before they’re forced to do all the chores the nuns don’t want to. It’s all a giant cliche but it is a masterpiece compared to what comes next.
As it turns out, the nuns are selling the orphans to pirates and one night nearly ever single orphan is snatched up and taken prisoner aboard a flying pirate ship. After the ship narrowly escapes fighter pilot fighter fire by going to outer space, the ship and its passengers reach their destination, Neverland. Once arrived, they are greeted by thousands of young boys who are being forced to work as miners to find pixie dust for Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman), as they all sing in unison to Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. Suddenly this movie is MAD MAX FURY ROAD meets MOULIN ROUGE and it is all wrong.
From there, Peter (young novice, Levi Miller) meets familiar faces like a man named Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and an Indian named Tiger Lily (played by non-Native American Rooney Mara) and has to learn to believe in himself in order to save basically everything and everyone in Neverland. Wright tries to make this journey as colourful and eye-popping as possible, with the kind of 3D that feels like it wants to be HUGO or LIFE OF PI but is really JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH. And considering how vibrant Wright clearly wants the film to be, and it is pretty at times, it is too obvious in its intention to distract from what isn’t there.
It is very unclear as to just who PAN is supposed to appeal to. It’s far too pretty to appeal to young boys and its far too crass to appeal to young girls. This just leaves adults, but as an honorary adult, I can tell you there isn’t anything for us either. Up until now, Wright has proven himself to be a strong directorial voice (ATONEMENT, PRIDE & PREJUDICE). PAN panders to the masses though, missing the mark altogether, making this Wright all wrong.
How many sheep would you give Pan?