FAMILY NIGHT AT THE MOVIE | By Christopher Hill –
There is a growing trend in Hollywood to take a beloved, childhood animated feature film and recreate it as a live-action spectacular. Earlier this year, Disney had great success with Cinderella. Now, Warner Brothers is hoping to take J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan to similar acclaim.
The 2015 film version of Peter Pan is actually a prequel, as it begins in World War II era London. There we meet Peter (Levi Miller), a curious orphan waging a cold war of sorts with the nuns who run the facility where he lives. We discover a relationship between these nuns and pirates, as they seem to be selling off the kids to the pirates, a few each night. When Peter gets snatched, he and his fellow “lost boys” are taken to Neverland. This world, which we may hazily remember, is far different from our memories.
Ruling some of the land is the pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). His desire for pixie dust has drawn him to force children and some even older to drill in the mines of Neverland to find rocks of pixie dust. Peter meets fellow indentured servant James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), and they plan their escape. On their way, we meet Tiger Lily, Mr. Smee and many familiar characters.
The original animated Disney film is a brief yet engaging look into an oddly shaped world of pirates, Indians, mermaids and fairies. Pan brings every one of these into play, yet unlike the brevity of the animated classic, Pan steals almost two hours of our time as it meanders its way toward a cohesive story, never quite getting there.
This is not to say there is nothing to like. You and your kids will enjoy the slight homages to the classic: Hook removing his hand in the water at the mention of crocodiles or the exchanges with Mr. Smee. The special effects are at times magnificent, and the pirate escape scene over London is a fascinating example.
Before seeing Pan, I rewatched the 1954 Disney musical Peter Pan. Looking back, I found it to be a surprisingly dark adventure, but the music and the story of a boy who never wanted to grow up resonated inside each of us. Trapped adults felt joy in being able to unburden themselves, and children were enabled and supported into not rushing childhood.
There is none of that deep resonance with Pan. It is a fantasy story that is beautiful to look at but, once touched, fades into the mist. The logic behind the villain’s evil deeds is incomplete and unnecessary. The side characters are not well developed, and even Peter just seems to be walking through the movie without much emotion. One of the more interesting relationships that is rife for interpretation is between Peter and Tinker Bell. However, that team shares only 10 seconds of screen time. Perhaps they are preparing for a sequel – a doubtful proposition.
The movie is simply there. It is not a bad film. It is just not very engaging. Disney took a dark film and lightened it with music and action. Warner Brothers’ Pan is a mediocre film that relies on the viewer’s connection to the characters to pull him through. Unfortunately, despite almost two hours of runtime, the lack of new character development leaves nothing for the viewer to latch onto. Despite being a prequel, this Peter Pan grew up – unfortunately.
Now Showing: In Local Theaters
MPAA Rating: PG
Violence: Mostly cartoonish or action-based but prevalent throughout.
Sexuality: None, just mild flirting