It was predetermined that I would see Pan, regardless of what the critics had to say. [Spoiler alert: they’ve said plenty, and none of it good!] Maybe it was as a kid when I fell in love with Walt Disney’s interpretations of Robin Hood and Peter Pan, the mischievous, golden-hearted way that the protagonists saved others, dreamed big, and challenged the status quo. Maybe it’s because I’ve always wondered where Peter Pan came from (even if Hook tried to fill in the gaps). Maybe it’s because I always want the old stories to come alive for younger generations.
With all of that said, Pan isn’t great. [I did determine that Get Hard, Chappie (also starring Hugh Jackman), Get Hard, True Story, and Do You Believe were worse.] It’s muddled in its storytelling, barely scratching the surface of what could have been groundbreaking, even legendary. It’s stuck between dark and dangerous, and light and child-focused. It’s ultimately unsure of how it’s going to make us believe that Captain Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and Peter (Levi Miller) will one day become enemies, leaving it open for another film.
But–and you knew there had to be a ‘but’–there are a few things to like about the film that bear considering.
- Peter is optimistic that he will find his mother even when no one else believes. He is driven, hopeful, courageous, and defiant in the face of doubt. Peter is the physical embodiment (in several ways) of faith, hope, and love.
- Peter cannot know who he should be until he understands who he was. He can’t figure out what it means to be Peter Pan until he acknowledges his history, the mythos behind his family, and the power of his family name. Peter’s story connects to the bigger Story, just in the way that our story connects to God’s story, and the Church’s story.
- Peter and Blackbeard (Jackman) are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of examining stewardship and community. Blackbeard wants everything for himself, while Peter wants what is best for everyone else. Blackbeard is selfish and internally focused, while Peter makes selfless decisions because he sees that the community is bigger than just his needs.
There’s enough here to consider watching it – and it looks pretty amazing, too. You will cringe at some of the moments that seem stripped from the classic NeverEnding Story but overall, this is a fun lark for the family, even if the ending leaves us with more questions than answers.