Verdict: Odd reworking of a children’s classic
J. M. Barrie’s story of Peter Pan is familiar to us for one very good reason: it’s an absolutely cracking yarn.
So quite why Atonement director Joe Wright felt the need to re-imagine it so drastically in this largely ham-fisted attempt at a prequel, I’m still not at all sure.
Bizarrely, Peter (Levi Miller) starts life as a foundling, left by his mother (Amanda Seyfried) on the steps of an orphanage run by a nun (Cathy Burke) so menacing that Oliver Twist’s Mr Bumble seems like a Chuckle Brother by comparison.
Scroll down for trailer
Bizarre: In this Pan reimagining of the origin story of Peter, Captain Hook is as a sort of Indiana Jones figure, played by Garrett Hedlund
Even more bizarrely, it is the height of the Blitz, and Peter and his fellow orphans are stolen by the crew of a pirate ship which sails away through the London sky pursued by fighter aircraft. Aghast at the very notion? I was, too.
It is getting on for 25 years since Steven Spielberg made Hook, and it’s more than a decade since Johnny Depp played J. M. Barrie in Finding Neverland, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t now get another big-screen homage to the most famous of all Edwardian fantasies. But Pan blows the opportunity, which with half-term almost upon us, is a great shame.
I saw it, mostly through my fingers, at the Odeon in Hereford, a city not blessed with even a single decent cinema until recently.
The novelty of a multiplex still excites Hereford audiences, and accordingly they tend to be a generous lot.
New villain: Peter Pan, played by Levi Miller, faces pirate captain Blackbeard, a rollicking, pantomime turn by Hugh Jackman
But I counted at least half a dozen people leaving before this film was even half-way through, including children who were audibly trying to reconcile the spectacle on screen with the animated Disney version they know so well.
‘Why isn’t the pirate called Captain Hook?’ one poppet wanted to know. It was a good question. Hook does feature, but as a sort of Indiana Jones figure, played by Garrett Hedlund.
The pirate king is instead the dastardly Blackbeard (a rollicking, pantomime turn by Hugh Jackman), who back in Neverland forces thousands of slave workers to mine for fairy dust.
That’s where Peter winds up, and it is as if he has stumbled onto the set of Mad Max: Fury Road.
So, unless you see no reason why Indiana Jones, Mad Max, Blackbeard and the Luftwaffe shouldn’t have a part to play in the story of Peter Pan, Pan is a strangely misconceived exercise.