Pan – How not to do an Origin Story

Director: Joe Wright
Writers: Jason Fuchs
Stars: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hudlund, Rooney Mara, Adeel Akhtar, Nonso Anozie

Pan is the origin story of the mischievous little boy we all know from Neverland. But really it isn’t. This movie has absolutely nothing to do with the world J.M. Barrie introduced us to. Yeah, the names are all there, but the rules of the universe he created are tossed out the window and the characters we love are not even close. To make things worse, it follows the origin story handbook with glee (I may have to come up with an origin story drinking game) so the entire movie is painfully predictable.

Peter (Miller) is living in World War II London with many other boys in an orphanage run by mean nuns. The nuns sell Peter and the boys to Blackbeard (Jackman) for gold and they are taken aboard a flying ship, which is then chased around London by RAF planes simply because an action sequence was needed. Upon his arrival to Neverland, Peter and the rest of the boys are greeted by a bunch of child slaves singing Smells like Teen Spirt and Blitzkrieg Bop because the Wright saw a bunch of Baz Luhrmann films and thought ripping him off would make this movie cool. The boys are put to work in a mine to dig for Pixen (the movie’s fancy way of dealing with fairy dust) so Blackbeard can grind it up and breathe it in thru a mask so he can stay young and live forever.

THE WHOLE PREMISE OF NEVERLAND IS NO ONE GROWS UP SO WHY DOES HE NEED THE PIXEN?

THE WHOLE PREMISE OF NEVERLAND IS NO ONE GROWS UP SO WHY DOES HE NEED THE PIXEN?

Peter quickly gets into trouble and is executed by walking the plank, but before he can hit the ground and go splat, Peter manages to hover for a second. Turns out he is the boy from a prophecy made by the fairies before they were hunted into extinction by Blackbeard. They prophesized a boy who could fly would defeat Black Beard and return Neverland to the fairies. Black Beard throws Peter in a prison where he is quickly broken out by James Hook (Hedlund) who wants to use Peter’s flying abilities to get him out of Neverland and back home where he belongs. Eventually they end up meeting Tiger Lily (Mara) and the other Natives who want Peter to lead them and the fairies (who are not extinct, just hiding from Blackbeard) into battle.

The relationships between Peter, Tiger Lily, and Hook make no sense whatsoever in the context of how things are supposed to play out in the future. Tiger Lily and Peter are both supposed to be children around the same age in the original stories. In Pan she is so much older and of course she is oh so white. The “Natives” of Neverland are all supposed to be different races, but not really. There are a couple of them who are not white, but they are quickly killed off. Hook and Lily fall in love simply because the two of them are pretty and heaven forbid a female character be in a major movie and not have some kind of love story going on. Also Hook has an American accent that sounds like something out of a bad western and he and Peter become best friends. To make it all even worse is Peter is not some mischievous little boy who loves having adventures. He is whiney, afraid of heights, and just wants to find his mother whom he assumes is in Neverland because the note she left for him as a baby made vague references to another world.

If this movie would have been about a different kid who was not Peter Pan and took place somewhere that was not Neverland, this would have been a decent adventure movie for slightly older kids. The adults forced to go and see it with them would have still been bored by the tedium. Pan is a predictable, nauseatingly colorful disaster that does not add to the mythos of a bunch of characters we grew up loving. Instead it manages to turn everything we know about the characters and Neverland into a confusing mess.

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About Nerdling

The Nerdling has an unhealthy obsession with books, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Star Wars. She finds hockey to be the best sport in the world (Go Dallas Stars!) and is working on her first novel, but mostly glowers at a blank screen. You can find her on Twitter @nerdlingstale on Facebook @NerdlingTales or Instagram @nerdling_tales

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