Orphan Abducted to Neverland in Peter Pan Prequel
It may have been a while for some, but almost everyone is familiar with Peter Pan. Most of us grew up with this classic story. For those who didn’t, and need a memory jog, Peter Pan was the little boy who could fly, and never grew up.
Peter Pan was created by Sir James Matthew Barry, first in a play, in 1904. Seven years later, the magical adventures of Peter Pan appeared in an illustrated novel. Then, in 1924, Peter Pan made his big screen debut as a silent movie. Since then, there have been a number of remakes, sequels and spin-offs, and these days, definitely animated versions. In one of those, Peter Pan was played by Robin Willians.
Just about every generation since 1904 should have been exposed to the wonderful Peter Pan.
In fact, Peter Pan is so deeply woven into western cultural fabric that a psychological disorder, the Peter Pan syndrome, is named after him, a pathology for people held tightly in a state of permanent adolescence.
Directed by Joe Wright, who also directed Anna Karenina, the latest incarnation of Peter Pan, known simply as Pan, is a prequel, as is the way these days. It is loosely based on J.M. Barrie’s original plotline.
Pan is a special effects spectacular, created by Jason Fuchs, previously an actor but now a scriptwriter. In Pan, Fuchs exhibits wild speculation about Peter Pan’s roots. In the beginning we see a newborn baby being left on the doorstep of the Lambeth home for boys . This is an orphanage run by nuns and the baby’s mother, played by Amanda Seyfried, is not happy about leaving the baby there.
Interestingly, this is where the Newsblaze editor’s mother was born – Lambeth, not the orphanage.
As you might expect, the mother Superior of this organization is a monster, and as we fast forward a dozen years, we see Peter and the other orphans under the thumb of this sadistic woman, played by Kathy Burke.
The film stars Levi Miller as Peter, and features an impressive supporting cast including Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, Garrett Hedlund and Amanda Seyfried.
The Battle of Britain is on in earnest, and the orphans are traumatized by two forces of nature – the awful mother Superior and the daily firebombings of London by the Luftwaffe. As is often done in movies, this screenplay takes a few liberties with reality. One case in point is time. The story was written well before World War II, but the screenplay uses the trauma of WWII to make its point.
This screenplay also takes an incredible leap – from real living breathing life into amazing fantasy, when one night, a flying frigate swoops down out of the sky, taking the kids from their beds, up into the heavens. Then we discover that it isn’t Captain Hook in charge, played by Hedlund, but Blackbeard, played by Hugh Jackman, the notorious 18th Century British pirate.
The children may have been saved from the blitz, but Blackbeard is a kidnapper, not a savior. His aim is to enslave the youngsters in Neverland, located in another dimension. In Neverland, another surprise awaits. Hook turns out to be a benign figure who befriends Peter, along with Indian princess Tiger Lily (Mara) and the ethereal fairy Tinker Bell.
Next, it gets very weird, and we are treated to dazzling CGI chase scenes, unexpectedly catchy song-and dance tunes (ala “Smells Like Teen Spirit”), and swashbuckling derring-do.
This movie runs for almost two hours (111 minutes), and it is a riveting roller coaster ride that should enthrall the kids.
Pan didn’t have a good showing over at Rotten Tomatoes. Out of 154 reviews, only 40 critics liked it, with 114 panning it. Its Average Rating was 4.5 out of 10. The audience didn’t think much of it either, and with more than 45,000 audience reviews, it only rated 3.2 out of 5.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG for PG for mature themes, mild epithets, action and violence
Running time: 111 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures
Watch the Pan trailer: