Pan - Some Things Shouldn't Exist

Matthew Parkinson | 9 Oct 2015 12:00
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Directed by Joe Wright. Produced by Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, and Paul Webster. Written by Jason Fuchs. Release date: October 9, 2015.

Prior to Pan, I'd never once before wondered how the character of Peter Pan found himself in Neverland. After seeing Pan, I find myself not caring. He was far more of an interesting character when he was a mysterious enigma. Seeing him as The Special just isn't compelling. Throwing him in a typical hero's journey plot that does nothing to try to differentiate itself from similar stories makes him boring. Anyone who thought we needed a peter pan origin story seriously needs to take a look in the mirror, if they can see it behind their piles of money, and reconsider why they've gotten into filmmaking.

Pan is set during World War II, and sees a young orphan named Peter (Levi Miller) taken from his orphanage by the evil pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) and ferried off to Neverland, a different world with magical creatures, flying ships, and fairies. One might think a 12-year-old would be in awe of all these things, but one might think incorrectly, as Peter reacts to it all as if it's same old, same old. If all the CGI in the world can't stun our protagonist, how much of an effect is it going to have on the audience?

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Peter is put in a mining camp but escapes with the help of James Hook (Garrett Hedlund). Both become fugitives, Peter learns that he can fly and, therefore, is part of a prophecy - he at one point literally calls himself the "chosen one" - so he sets out, with the help of some of the local natives, to stop Blackbeard for good. The natives are represented by Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), because Pan feels the need to include an obligatory romance between her and Hook that is so poorly developed that it's a mystery why it was hammered in at all.

From there, you could write out the rest of the plot, as it contains precisely no surprises, except perhaps that it doesn't actually explain to us how Hook and Peter will eventually become enemies, likely so that, if the film succeeds, we can get a sequel to tell us that story. It also fails to give us a whole lot of depth to Peter, Hook, Tiger Lily, Smee (Adeel Akhtar), or even Blackbeard. It's a Mad Libs version of this story in which most of the characters are from the Peter Pan universe, but mostly just in name and general characteristics.

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