Which is worse? Joe Wright's "Pan" or Steven Spielberg's "Hook?" Its an honest question. I am not even going to tiptoe around it tonight, "Pan" was awful. It was the worst kind of awful. It was everything I dreaded "Pan" would be and surprisingly, it was a lot more. I never thought there would ever be a worse Peter Pan movie than "Hook," but Wright justifiably made one. The cool concept behind "Hook" was "What if Peter Pan grew up?" Which could have been an interesting starting point to a movie, its just that the execution was awful. "Pan" starts in a rather tepid point in Pan's life and makes every wrong-headed decision, and some other decisions that completely mystified me.
There is so much great material that could be used for a Peter Pan movie, whose story was written by J.M. Barrie. Joe Wright decided to ignore it all to create this big-canvass story, no doubt in order to squeeze a few sequels as he could for the studio. We meet Pan (Levi Miller) at some orphanage, but he quickly soaked up into this flying pirate ship and taken to Neverland. Where he meets a guy named Hook (Garret Hedlund). He soon finds out that that he has been enslaved by a pirate named Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman), who is using slaves to mine crystals with fairy dust which he will use for a machine that will keep him young forever. But he soon opposes Pan because he learns of a prophecy involving a boy named Pan who will take back Neverland. Everyone believes Pan to be the boy in the prophecy and he eventually accepts it.
Really, that's the story. They turned Peter Pan into a Chosen One. Can I ask why you did that, Hollywood? What is your fascination with turning every big pop culture icon into a Chosen One? This the best way for you to sell international tickets? Did you just not want to try and you just wanted some greenbacks? When there is so much source material in the writings of J.M. Barrie, why did you decide to ignore it? The Chosen One cliche is starting to become the most annoying, most insulting, and most bizarre story-arc to tack onto a movie's story. Stop it, Hollywood. Especially when you have great material to adapt. Stop. There was really no need to tell this story. Its even worse that the movie is a prequel, so putting Hooks life or Peter's life or even Tiger Lilly's life (Rooney Mara) into any sort of peril is equally insulting, since we know nothing bad will happen to them. This is a prequel, and by the end of "Pan" the characters are nowhere near where we find them once Pan finds Wendy and her family. So why even try to pull a fast one on the audience.
Astoundingly, that isn't the worst part about "Pan." What had me tearing up in laughter was one bizarre choice which plays out in the beginning of the movie. When Blackbeard is being introduced, the slaves and fellow pirates are singing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Yes, I am serious. No, I am not lying. The characters sing Nirvana to welcome Blackbeard. Then a few minutes later, the characters sing "Blitzkrieg Bop" by The Ramones. Then, they never sing the rest of the movie. Yes, you read that correctly. The characters randomly breakout into modern song, even though the movie takes place during World War II, but then never sing again. At first, I thought "Pan" would be a "Moulin Rouge!" style musical. But the characters literally sing two songs in the beginning, then never sing again. Were there other songs in the filming of this movie? Will we get a director's cut? Did Blackbeard travel through time, decide he liked 1990's grunge rock and forced his slaves to learn Nirvana? We never find out, but its the most bizarre choice I have seen in any movie this year.
Hugh Jackman seems like he's channeling Dustin Hoffman, which was the total wrong way to go for the character. Hook is nothing more than just the typical, wiseguy side-kick the whole movie and his pending romance with Tiger Lilly is stupid and forced and doesn't belong in this movie at all. Mara is fine, she just never has a real character to play. I can't really get a good read off of Miller either, he could possibly be a talented young boy, but his Peter Pan is so cookie-cutter that I feel any child off the street could have filled the role.
Joe Wright got Neverland wrong. He got Hook and Tiger Lily wrong. But most importantly, he got Peter Pan wrong. "Pan" is a failure on almost every level. Wow.
FINAL GRADE: D-