If you have a shred of sentiment or love toward the original Disney animated film “Peter Pan” or the film “Hook,” then I highly suggest that you do not see this movie. However, if you like completely unremarkable dialogue, “surprises” that can be seen coming from a mile away or the most counterintuitive costume design ever, then by all means.
The “Pan,” screenplay by Jason Fuchs and directed by Joe Wright, tells the backstory of Peter Pan, played by Levi Miller. The movie opens on baby Peter being dropped off at an orphanage by his mother who bestows a pan flute necklace upon him; this movie is about as subtle as a gun going off. The film jumps ahead 12 years during World War II where we see Peter being treated horribly in the orphanage by the nuns. It turns out that the nuns are actually selling the children at night to pirates who wear clothes that look like they were rejects from the Cirque du Soleil collection. Peter finds himself in Neverland where all of the children who have ever been taken by Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) are working in mines to find fairy dust. Blackbeard’s entrance is greeted by everyone singing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (because apparently Nirvana had that big of an influence 50 years before their origin) and declares the laws of Neverland: to work hard in his mines.
This is where we find a two-handed James Hook, played by Garrett Hedlund, who resembles and sounds more like a cowboy than a pirate. Blackbeard sees Pan fly for his first time and takes him to his quarters where he reveals a prophecy that a boy who can fly would lead the Natives, who hide in the forests of the island, in a rebellion against him. He goes on to say that this is a dream where you never wake up, but it was more like a nightmare and it only lasted two hours.
Hook manages to help Pan escape into the jungles and away from the pirates, only for them to be kidnapped by Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and the Neverland natives. Now it’s bad enough that they casted a Caucasian for the role of a Native American princess, but the movie also took the liberty to create a romantic relationship between the Native princess and Hook, making the sentimental Disney child within cringe. Tiger Lily shows Pan a magical memory tree and tells of the atrocities that Blackbeard has committed against the people and fairies of the world. He ravaged Neverland for fairy dust in order to retain his youth by smoking and inhaling it (I told you it was subtle). She tells him that he must lead the fight to bring back peace, but he regrets to inform her that he does not know how to fly again.
Blackbeard manages to track down Pan and company and kills a large amount of the Natives, who turn into puffs of colored powder when they die instead of simply falling to the ground. There is a small nod to Robin Williams and his role in “Hook,” but not even that considerate Easter egg could save this sinking ship. Blackbeard nearly kills Pan in the skirmish and tells him to “think a happy thought” (the pirates repeat this annoying phrase several times) but does not manage to finish the deed. Once again, Pan manages to escape along with Hook and Tiger Lily who take him to a magical lake where one is able to recall the past (there are a lot of these kind of memory recalling objects in Neverland, apparently). The three then leave to find the land of the fairies in order to discover Peter’s destiny, but once again, Blackbeard attacks.
In the land of the fairies, there is an unlimited supply of Blackbeard’s personally preferred drug of choice and he begins to kill off the inhabitants with reckless abandon. Pan eludes the pirate thanks to a fairy named Tinker Bell and begins the battle to end Blackbeard. The anticlimactic and all too predictable conflict comes to a conclusion when Pan finally is able to fly and summons forth a stream of fairies to swarm Blackbeard, looking very much like a character from an equally horrible film, “The Last Airbender.” After Neverland rejoices in the fall of Blackbeard, Pan returns to the orphanage one last time to liberate the remaining boys from the tyrannical grip of the nuns and takes them aboard the ship now captained by Hook.
As they all sail through the sky to the second star to the right, Pan and Hook make a pact to remain comrades for the rest of their days (and cue the eye roll).
Rating: 1 star