Peter Pan (Levi Miller) is the kid who wants to find his mother before he’s the boy who never grew up. That is, before he never grew up, he was just an orphaned, little boy missing his mother. Imprisoned in an orphanage with the ominously hoarding Mother Barnabas (Kathy Burke), Peter leads a mini-rebellion and is sold into pirate slavery under the deliciously evil Captain Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman, channelling his inner Johnny Depp) in Neverland. Now, we’re getting somewhere: the legend has begun.
Jason Fuchs’ script was on the Hollywood “Blacklist” of most desirable scripts (he’s scheduled to pen Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman for 2017) but somewhere along the way, director Joe Wright got lost in the eyes of most critics. To be fair, the film is not great – certainly not as good as Robin Williams’ Hook – but the story of searching, seeking, and longing for something lost is still pretty compelling. It’s a little spooky, like a Tim Burton film, but it’s not as abysmal as some have painted it to be.
Of course, this is a prequel, and as such, Peter makes friends with his future enemy, Hook (Garrett Hedlund, who overacts his way starboard), and Hook’s accomplice, Smee (Adeel Akhtar). There are giant crocodiles, mermaids, and an Indian princess named Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), but this isn’t your grandfather’s (or Disney’s) Peter Pan. This is more complicated, more realistic (!), more emotionally charged, as Peter begins to understand where he came from, and the power in his own name.
Now, we’re well-versed in names this year, are we not? There’s Max’s name in George Miller’s dystopian thriller and Adonis’ surname in Creed. These are people searching for purpose and meaning, wondering who they are and what it means to be themselves. In Pan, this pressure has been placed inside the youthful heart of Peter, who wants to be someone – someone loved, respected, and related. It’s the cry of his heart, and one that many of us, orphaned or not, can relate to.
Over and over in the Bible, we are reminded that human beings were created in the image of God (imago dei, Genesis 1:27), adopted by God (Ephesians 1:5), called the children of God (John 1:12), and given new names (Revelations 2:17). Peter’s search of self-discovery isn’t really to discover himself but to connect and understand the bigger picture and the greater context. That is our quest as well, is it not?
The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack sports several in-depth looks at the film, from the way that Fuchs’ expanded on J.M. Barrie’s classic world of Neverland, the search that resulted in Miller’s being chosen to play Peter, Jackman’s work to ‘flesh out’ Blackbeard, and trip through the world of Neverland itself.