Someone in Hollywood decided to pull a “Wicked” on the Peter Pan story. But while young Peter may be good at defying gravity, this prequel is not.
Borrowing from another famous musical, “Pan” opens with young Oliver — I mean Peter (Levi Miller) — stuck in a joyless orphanage run by evil nuns. One night Peter and several other orphan boys are kidnapped by pirates in a flying ship.
They wind up in Neverland, where Peter and the others are put to work digging for fairy droppings in the mines. Pete has problems with authority and in no time he’s ordered to walk the plank by the head pirate — Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman).
Pete survives the plunge by flying, a skill no one — including Peter — was aware he possessed. Peter then teams up with a fellow prisoner, James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), and Mr. Smee (Adeel Akhtar), one of Blackbeard’s lackeys who has fallen out of favor, to escape the pirate’s compound.
They escape only to wind up once again captives, this time of the Piccaninny tribe. Things are looking grim for the trio until the Piccaninnys realize that Peter is “The Pan,” a.k.a. “The Chosen One.”
Yep. It’s another Chosen One story. You know, where there’s a prophecy or a legacy about someone special who’s going to come along and overthrow the tyrant and bring peace to the country. Peter doesn’t feel special — chosen ones never do — but hopefully he will rise to the occasion.
“Pan” has some decent special effects and that’s about it. It totally lacks a spark of magic that a movie like this really needs. There’s an attempt at weirdness (Blackbeard and all the boys singing anachronistic songs like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”) but it just falls flat. The story is tired and predictable.
And the acting? Jackman hams it up to an embarrassing degree and Hedlund is right there with him. I found Miller’s Peter annoying at first but he got less annoying as the story progressed. Rooney Mara rounds out the cast as Tiger Lilly, and the best I can say for her is that she was adequate.
If you’re wondering how Peter and Hook go from buddies to enemies, you won’t find the answer here. No doubt they’re planning that story for the sequel. If one gets made after this mess — that will be magic worthy of Tinkerbell.