A lot of misbegotten ambition without a lot of success grounds this retcon of the boy who could fly. A World War II-era orphan named Peter (Levi Miller) is whisked away to Neverland by pirates led by the legendary Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). While mining for fairy dust, or Pixum, Peter meets a young James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and Smee (Adeel Akhtar) before joining up with fairy protector Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and her native tribe. As scripted by Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift), Pan adds several new ideas to the Peter Pan mythology but little of it improves upon J.M. Barrie’s iconic character; Peter is now dyslexic and afraid of heights.
Acclaimed filmmaker Joe Wright (Hanna is an underrated gem) and his creative team overthink everything from the acting to the art direction to the music. Why in the holy name of Moulin Rouge are the enslaved orphans singing Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” and The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop”? Such mysterious decisions highlight the misguided creativity that plagues Pan.
Jackman tries very hard as a hammy Blackbeard who would have made a terrific Hook; he entertains as well as ever. Hedlund bafflingly plays Hook as John Wayne’s Indiana Jones; a decidedly stilted line delivery overwhelms the actor’s incredible charm. Current Peter Levi Miller is no more or less delightful than previous actors. As far as crunchy revisionist Peter Pans go, stick with Steven Spielberg’s underwhelming, overhyped Hook. For classic, creamy Peter Pan, P.J. Hogan’s 2003 adaptation remains far and away the most unjustly overlooked.