Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Movie Review: Pan

Title: Pan
Author: Warner Brothers
Release Date: 2015
Genre: fantasy, family, adventure, Peter Pan, British literature, children
My Rating: ***
Official Rating PG for fantasy action violence, language, and some thematic material
Age Group: 10+

Poor Peter and his friends. They're orphans in a very miserable orphanage, as apparently all orphanages always are. He wants his mother, and he's positive that she'll come back for him. But with WWII raging on outdoors, doesn't he have bigger things to think about?
Unlike all literary orphanages, this one has a crabby old nun (wait for it, I promise this is different)...who sells the boys to pirates who fly ships across the sky.
Wait, what?
Peter and some of the boys are kidnapped by Blackbeard where they are forced to mine fairy dust and fight for their survival. But Peter still wants his mother, and his new buddy James Hook wants to go home, so why not work together?
Just when they're ready to take off though, Tiger Lily shows up spewing nonsense about a chosen one, a savior, someone called the Pan. And she's pretty sure Peter is it.
So is Blackbeard, and he'll stop at nothing to get what he wants.

Word of Warning
  • As mentioned above, Peter and the other boys live in a sad orphanage with a cruel nun character who is fat and ugly and basically a tyrant. She also sells the boys to pirates. She's just an all-around nasty character.
  • As with any orphanage, there are abandoned children.
  • The characters are not all together good, even though we're to believe they're on the good side. They break into places, steal, and do general mischief.
  • The PG rating comes from fantasy action violence and thematic material. We see scenes where characters fall to their deaths, bombs are dropped (on England and on pirate ships), characters are nearly crushed by a falling metal car, there is an animated war scene (shown as historical of Neverland), an animated battle scene shows a woman made of bubbles being stabbed and dying, a man looks possessed when attacked by fairies (and quite honestly, attacking fairies are rather fierce), and so on.
  • The mermaids apparently do not even wear shells. Their hair covers what is absolutely necessary. Tiger Lily wears a bandeau style shirt for significantly long parts of the movie. 
  • There is a light, somewhat playful, romance that never amounts to anything physical (not even a hug).
  • Blackbeard is using fairy dust to stay young forever. This can be (and should be) disturbing.
  • An old man is shot and killed. Other characters die as well, though some of these deaths are meant to be comical.
  • Brief mention of suicide, not as an action to take, but rather as a caution.
  • The animals of Neverland are creepy and dangerous.

My Thoughts
If you're looking for something accurate to the original Peter Pan stories by J. M. Barrie, this isn't it. It's much closer to the original feel than, say, Hook starring Robin Williams and a grown up Peter Pan (wait, isn't that a contradiction?). However, there is much focus on family, knowing where one comes from, and heroism for the sake of doing the right thing. This is very much not the vibe of the original book.

But if you're looking for a well done movie with little known actors who are incredibly skilled, a fun fantasy adventure romp, this is a great option. I enjoyed it in theaters, and I enjoyed it again while watching it for research. It proposes some interesting questions, and I'd like to see how it is connected, eventually, to the original Peter Pan. By the end of the movie, you get the feeling this is the first half of a prequel to Peter Pan. I'd like to see where it goes from here.
And even if it goes nowhere, it's still a good, well done movie worth watching and enjoying.

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