The classic story of Peter Pan has seen many reincarnations over time, and there’s a new one set to join the ranks: Joe Wright’s Pan. Serving as a prequel, this film sees Peter stolen from his orphanage and whisked off to Neverland, where he must defeat the infamous pirate Blackbeard to save the fairies and the Natives, with help from Tiger Lilly and a certain James Hook.
It feels like a Peter Pan film should: whimsical and fast paced, with beautiful scenery and colour everywhere. The cinematography was beautiful, particularly in the river and treehouse scenes, and I particularly liked the idea to use colour explosions to symbolise death in the fight scenes with the Natives. However, the film tries to pack a lot of plot in what feel like a short time, which made everything feel slightly lacking. Blackbeard’s ‘pixum’ (fairy dust) mining operation seemed a little bit ridiculous and goofy, but the film really kicks into gear when Peter and Hook meet Tiger Lilly and the Natives. The packed storyline left Hook and Tiger Lilly a little bit underdeveloped, but it was still interesting to explore Peter’s past and his friendships with Hook and Tiger Lilly.
Trying to create a modern adaptation of an (at times) culturally insensitive original film would not have been easy for Wright, particularly when there were already whitewashing issues concerning casting Rooney Mara in a traditionally Native American role. For all the pressure put on her, Mara did a great job as Tiger Lilly, as did the rest of the cast; newcomer Levi Miller brought a perfect balance of mischief and heart to the role of Peter. But the casting of the rest of the Natives surprised me; Wright has created an amalgamated culture of many different cultures, such as Asian and Aboriginal Australian cultures, as well as Native American. This had the effect of seeming both less and more stereotypical at the same time, which isn’t exactly what you want your audience to think after the previous whitewashing issues.
For such a familiar, well loved story, Pan left a little to be desired. It felt kind of goofy at times, but was still fun and very magical. Though it didn’t do the original film justice, it was visually enough to make it into the Peter Pan Hall of Fame.
Here’s my list of 5 fantastic films starring the cast of Pan:
- The Social Network – Rooney Mara
- X-Men: Days of Future Past – Hugh Jackman
- Letters to Juliet – Amanda Seyfried
- Les Miserables – Hugh Jackman
- RocknRolla – Nonso Anozie