A magical land that you’ve seen a million times before, but also completely different.
Pan is the latest in a long line of Peter Pan adaptations, though this time the story tells us how Peter arrived in Neverland. While it’s different from the more well known tale, this take has been done before though not on this scale.
Peter, who has grown up in an orphanage, notices that children are disappearing. He doesn’t know where they’re going until the night he himself is taken by a flying pirate ship to Neverland.
Once there Peter is put to work in the mines by, the pirate who other pirates fear, Black Beard. Here he meets James Hook and begins an adventure to fulfil his destiny as the boy who, legends say, will defeat Black Beard.
When we first meet Black Beard he explains that he has stolen children from all around the world to work in his mine. The line highlights one of the major problems the film has, white washing. Pretty much everyone important to the story is white, even the island natives who are traditionally portrayed as Native American. Even in this version, the natives dress in Native American inspired costumes.
Rooney Mara plays Tiger Lily, the princess of the tribe. It’s hard not to be distracted by the race issues, but, based solely on her performance in the film, Mara was a great choice and makes a character who could have been a walking clique into something much more interesting to watch.
Other versions often put Tiger Lily and Peter at the same age, at least in appearance, this time she’s older and acts as a romantic interest for James Hook. Garrett Hedlund, who plays the man destine to become Pan’s biggest foe, is easily the best thing about the film. His character is like Han Solo with comedic timing.
With Captain Hook still a ways off, the film has introduced Black Beard, played by Hugh Jackman, to give the heroes someone to fight against. His motivation is very rational, he wants to stay alive which is very in keeping with the Peter Pan mythos, but his actions are often irrational and seem to be there solely to make him more despicable. He also let opportunities to kill Peter early on pass him by, making him look like a fool when it comes back to bite him later.
Levi Miller plays Peter Pan really well. His real accent, which is a lot more posh than Peter’s, occasionally comes true, but apart from that the young actor plays the role perfectly. That said, this is not the mischievous, fun loving Peter Pan audiences are used to. While that side of the character can be seen in the beginning, for the most part Peter is serious and feels the full weight of the situation he’s facing. For better or worse, it’s Jason Fuchs, the writer, and Joe Wright, the director, who chose to portray Peter in that light.
The world of Neverland is beautifully realised. The special effects really set Neverland apart from anything that exists in our world and was an amazing settling for the story, which relied on exploring the unique land.
Focusing on how Peter got to Neverland was a bold choice, considering that Levi Miller may have already aged out of the character meaning that sequels will be unlikely. Still, the story was fun, fast and never boring though there are plenty of missed opportunities that would have been fun to explore, but never panned out.
What do you think? Have you ever wondered how Peter got to Neverland? Would you like a sequel? Has white washing put you off seeing the film? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.