In the newest installment of what seems to be a series of live-action remakes of beloved childhood cartoons, “Pan” is a disappointment for the older crowd who were raised on the 1953 Disney cartoon, “Peter Pan.”
Set as a prequel to J.M. Barrie’s 1904 play, “Peter Pan” and his later novel, “Peter and Wendy,” “Pan” tells the story of how Peter became the boy who wouldn’t grow up. The basis of the movie is that “every legend has a beginning” and to fully understand the tale of the Peter Pan that we know and love we must know Peter’s back-story.
Director Joe Wright is no stranger to adapting books into movies, as his previous works include “Pride & Prejudice,” and “Anna Karenina”. However, with “Pan” he takes more artistic liberties in creating his own version of events preceding the iconic tale.
Detailing Peter’s childhood in a London orphanage during World War II, the movie is quickly consumed with Peter’s boyish mischief as well as his longing for parental figures and identity, which remains a constant theme throughout the movie.
The plot is strikingly similar to James Cameron’s “Avatar,” with a villain (Blackbeard) who is trying to exploit Neverland for its natural resources; in this case fairy dust and the indigenous people fight back. The movie is fast paced, with new places and characters spread throughout to keep the audience’s interest.
A thinly veiled version of Jack Sparrow, Hugh Jackman’s depiction of the evil pirate Blackbeard is disappointing. With costumes that look like a regal warrior, Jackman hardly does justice to the nightmarish figure of Blackbeard.
Garrett Hedlund’s charming portrayal of Hook is the saving grace of the movie. Before he was the infamous Captain Hook he was another miner looking for fairy dust. His tale is much like Peter’s in that he is searching for identity and finally finds it in the end by captaining the Jolly Roger. Hedlund turns the villainous Captain Hook we remember into a young, attractive man that audiences can sympathize and laugh with.
The most problematic aspect of the movie is the casting of Tiger Lily, who in the original Disney movie is a Native American princess. However, in “Pan” she is played by white actress, Rooney Mara. Wright tries to justify this casting in an interview with Reuters by explaining that Tiger Lily is indigenous to Neverland, not America, and that author J.M. Barrie was never specific about her heritage. While Mara’s performance was commendable, her casting emphasizes the lack of diversity and whitewashing of roles in Hollywood.
While “Pan” certainly brings back the nostalgia of childhood, save yourself money on a ticket and dust off your old VHS tape of the animated film “Peter Pan.”
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