It’s a perfectly okay fantasy-adventure movie that is fine for the whole family and probably better than fine for kids aged 8-12. Any younger, and it’s rather dark, especially at the start. Any older, and it can’t compete with the likes of The Hunger Games.
For the adult tag-alongs, the real question is: Do we really need a prequel to Peter Pan??? Must we really know how an orphan named Peter came to be Peter Pan, or who exactly Hook was before he was ‘Captain’ Hook? No, we don’t. In fact, it all kind of muddles the classic nature of writer J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan mythology – a story that has stood the test of time and countless remakes on stage and screen.
For the kids, the questions raised above are probably moot. The movie has a flying pirate ship! It’s fantastical! It has kids running amuck! Evil nuns! Swordfights! Fairies! Hugh Jackman!! (okay, that last one was for me).
Here’s the gist: A mischievous 12-year-old boy named Peter (played by a talented kid-to-keep-tabs-on Levi Miller) is whisked away from his bleak London orphanage and transported to a place called Neverland. While there, he teams up with a warrior named Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and a dubious new friend named James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) to defeat the ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman), save Neverland, and discover his true destiny… you know, as the boy who can fly and never grows up!
The movie starts out rather grim and doesn’t really lighten up until the insanely versatile and largely unrecognizable Hugh Jackman appears onscreen as Blackbeard. (note to producers: needs more Hugh!). I wouldn’t recommend an adult rush to see Pan over something like The Martian, but it’s a fine choice for kids who have outgrown the animated stuff.
Far be it from me to pan Pan. It’s simply not my thing. I’m not the target demo (Hugh Jackman notwithstanding). Kids who are primed to see it will do so – and rightly so- and they’ll enjoy it – or at least, claim to. But don’t expect an instant classic. I predict that Pan will fly off into the annals of cinematic Neverland. Second star to the right and straight on til morning…
p.s. Totally random sidebar note: I spent half the movie trying to place Hook’s voice. Then it hit me. He sounded just like Thomas Haden Church of Wings and Sideways fame. If there’s such a thing as a voice doppelganger, Hedlund and Church are it!