tek's rating:

Pan (PG)
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Caution: spoilers!

This came out in 2015, but I didn't see it until 2018. It did not do well critically or financially (but the latter is really only because it was fairly expensive to make). But personally, I liked it quite a bit. It wasn't perfect, certainly. There were some quite valid complaints of whitewashing, most notably because Tiger Lily wasn't played by a Native American actress. (She was played by Rooney Mara. As much as I hate how much whitewashing there is in Hollywood, I couldn't help but like her portrayal of the character. So I have mixed feelings about this.) There were also complaints about, I guess, there being too many special effects and CGI, as opposed to plot... but I couldn't hold that against the film, either, because I thoroughly enjoyed the special effects. And there are complaints that it's not very original, which I can understand. I'm sure I thought of any number of things the movie reminded me of, while I watched it. Obviously, other Peter Pan-related things like Hook and Neverland and maybe even The Pirate Fairy. And other, unrelated things... as I write this review, my memory is fading on some points- hell, even while I was watching it, my memory was fading- but I'm pretty sure some things about it reminded me a little tiny bit of Star Wars. In particular, Hook reminded me very vaguely of Han Solo (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say Lone Starr). For some reason, the version of Hook in this movie wasn't British, but apparently an American cowboy, or something. We never really got a backstory on the character, but I have a suspicion that he was several decades older than he looked, and that he had been in Neverland for a long time before Peter met him. Speaking of time, the bulk of the movie is set around the time of World War II, which is pretty odd, considering when the original story was written. But whatevs. Um... oh, and I also wanted to say there were things about the movie that reminded me of Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away. And probably various other things that I've already forgotten. The point is, I agree that it's not very original. But I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing. I'm actually a fan of patching disparate entertainment sources together to make new entertainment, when it's done well. Of course, whether or not it's done well is entirely subjective, but for the most part I liked how it was done in this movie.

So. On to the plot. It begins with a woman named Mary (Amanda Seyfried, in a surprisingly small role), who obviously has some parkour-like skill, leaving her baby, Peter, outside an orphanage, along with a letter for him. And he has a necklace with a charm that looks like a pan flute. Flash forward twelve years, to World War II, and we get a look at Peter's life in the orphanage. It's definitely a hard knock life (so yeah, I guess it reminded me a bit of Annie, and maybe Oliver Twist). He has a best friend named Nibs. And all the orphans suffer because of the evil nun, Mother Barnabas, who runs the place. Also, some of the orphans have been disappearing (so maybe it's got a bit of a Golden Compass vibe going on). And... I don't want to spend too much time on what Peter and Nibs get up to, but it does turn out that Barnabas has been selling orphans to pirates. Who show up in a flying pirate ship, and bungee down into the building to grab sleeping kids. One of the kids who gets nabbed is Peter, but Nibs gets left behind.

After some cool special effects with the ship dodging German planes that were attacking London, and then the ship flying up into space, and the ship getting to Neverland (which is apparently in the sky somewhere), we're treated to the pirates and a whole colony of their slaves singing... a very anachronistic song, which I enjoyed. But soon, all the kids have to get to work in the mines, trying to find fairy dust. The overseer of the operation is Sam Smiegel (aka "Smee"). Most of the miners are children who have been abducted by the pirates, but some of them may be adults. The only important one is James Hook. The pirates have a pretty impressive set-up, with lots of flying ships and a skyport and whatnot. And the person in charge of all of it is Blackbeard. (He's played by Hugh Jackman, but I did not recognize him in the slightest.) Anyway, it doesn't take Peter long to find some fairy dust. And then someone else tries to claim the find for himself, and Peter is accused of lying, or whatever. So he's made to walk the plank (actually, Blackbeard kicks him off the plank), and he falls... nearly to his death. But at the last moment, he manages to fly, which is as much a surprise to himself as it is to everyone else. Still, he doesn't stay aloft long. Later, he learns about a prophecy of a boy born to a fairy prince and a human woman, who would one day return to lead a rebellion against Blackbeard. He doesn't really believe in it, but he does believe his mother may be in Neverland, and he wants to find her. And he ends up escaping with Hook and Smee.

They steal a ship, which they soon crash in the forest. But before long they are captured by Natives, including Tiger Lily. (Oh yeah, I guess the way the captives were treated reminded me a bit of how the heroes were initially treated by Ewoks in Return of the Jedi.) And... more stuff happens, before the Natives realize Peter might be the prophesied leader they've been waiting for. But he'll have to prove it by flying, a feat he still hasn't figured out how to duplicate. Meanwhile, Hook has been developing feelings for Tiger Lily. Though I think it would be more apt to say "hots" than "feelings." And it's not long before the pirates find the Natives' camp, so Peter, Hook and Tiger Lily have to escape, and make their way to the hidden lair of the fairies. (Until now, Blackbeard believed he had killed all the fairies, but it turns out there are survivors, who are biding their time.) Along the way, there are crocodiles, and mermaids (all of whom are played by Cara Delevingne, apparently). And once they find the fairies, Peter briefly meets Tinker Bell, but I'm afraid all the fairies just look like tiny lights, basically. Well, there will be a big battle between the good guys and the pirates. Of course the good guys ultimately win.

In the end, we learn how the Lost Boys (including Nibs) are brought to Neverland. And... Hook is still friends with Peter, though he is now calling himself "Captain" of the Jolly Roger. So it definitely seems like there were probably plans for a sequel that would explain how the two of them become enemies (and how any hope of Hook and Tiger Lily getting together is eradicated), but I suppose that movie will never get made, which is a shame. Still, I enjoyed this movie, despite the naysayers. I really didn't much care for this portrayal of Hook (in fact, Blackbeard seemed much more like the traditional idea of Hook). But for the most part, I found the movie fun, and funny, and cool.

Oh yeah, also there were some very large birds whose design put me vaguely in mind of the fireys from Labyrinth.

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Peter Pan
movies: Peter Pan (1953) * Hook * Return to Never Land * Peter Pan (2003) * Finding Neverland * Tinker Bell * Pan * Peter Pan & Wendy
TV: Neverland (2011) * Once Upon a Time * Peter Pan Live! * The New Adventures of Peter Pan