It seems every two years or so we have a new retelling of Peter Pan. Even on Broadway Peter Pan is flying across the stage eight times a week in Finding Neverland. The world is in love with Peter Pan and rightfully so, it’s a beautiful, enchanting and unforgettable story about a boy who doesn’t wish to grow up.
Director, Joe Wright’s (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice) latest dabble into the world of Neverland is definitely beautiful however it’s also unforgettable. Pan has potential to be a highly entertaining and interesting prequel to the classic we all know but unfortunately it more so functions as a montage of overly digitalized special effects complete with an underdeveloped story.
Pan tells the story of a young orphan boy named Peter who lives in a boy’s home in England during World War II. One evening as bombs are being dropped over London, Peter is picked up out of his bed and carried on to a flying pirate ship. The ship arrives in Neverland (after a psychedelic trip through space and time, of course) and Peter is forced into working in the mines overseen by the vicious Blackbeard. Peter and the other miners are searching for fairy dust, which (for a reason never to be explained, really) is of importance to Blackbeard. Peter manages to escape the mine thanks to his friend, James Hook, and the two of them befriend the tribal natives and attempt to fight Blackbeard and save Neverland.
Where story development falls short the cast is actually pretty solid. Hugh Jackman (X-Men) is nearly unrecognizable as Captain Blackbeard, the balding, red sock-wearing pirate captain. Jackman’s performance is terrifying at times, but he still maintains a sense of humor and charm throughout the film. Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) portrays Tiger Lilly, the native princess who helps Peter and James. Mara looks stunning in her Native American-esque garb and more so functions as eye candy than a pivotal character. Garrett Hedlund (Tron, Unbroken) portrays James Hook, or the pre-gator –accident-Hook that is. Hedlund does a fine job, though his performance is ridiculously reminiscent of Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones (he even wears a similar hat throughout!) Newcomer Levi Miller plays Peter Pan. He does a wonderful job at shedding tears and looking scared, but I don’t think we will be hearing his name called at the Academy Awards this year. It girl, Cara Delivigne (Paper Towns), also makes an appearance as the mermaids of mermaid lagoon, and Amanda Seyfried has a few lines as Peter’s mother, Mary.
While the film is certainly CGI-heavy, artistically speaking the film is visually stunning-complete with mythical creatures, fairies, flying pirate ships, and sword fights. The film also has a few Baz Luhrmann moments so those who are punk rock fans will be happy to know that Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and The Ramone’s “Blitzkrieg Bop” are featured in the film (I’m still confused as to why though.)
Bottom line: Pan is fun. It’s not abysmal, though definitely not brilliant. The film is exactly what it was advertised as-a flashy, digitalized origins story of an overly-done classic that has been released to entertain families at the theater as we all await the new Star Wars film to arise.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Mallory Delchamp is a writer, model, and performer living in Manhattan. You can routinely read her film and music reviews here on Pop-Break and you can also check out her work on zumic.com and nytheatreguide.com. A social media and pop culture enthusiast, Mallory also enjoys musical theatre, superhero films, and drinking coffee. You can visit Mallory at her website, www.mallorydelchamp.com