Film Review: Pan

Back in 1902, J. M. Barrie first introduced the character of Peter Pan in a section of The Little White Bird before returning to his character in the stage play Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. But in 2015, Jason Fuschs has reinvented the flying boy in his film Pan, released in September.

The extraordinary Levi Miller plays the part of Peter Pan and at the age of just thirteen, he pulls the role off so brilliantly it’s as though he has twenty years of experience. Peter begins his journey at the beginning of the film as a baby being left on the doorstep of an all-boys orphanage by his mother before a quick journey in time to Peter growing to be twelve years old in World War Two.

Like all orphanages in films, something isn’t quite right. As it happens, children are snatched from their beds in the dead of the night by pirates coming through the roof. And Peter is one of the boys taken to Neverland.

In Pan, Neverland isn’t the Neverland we’re familiar with: there’s no colour, no fun and nothing of the ‘every dream that you dream will come true’ nonsense. At least not with Blackbeard ruling it. In a quest to be immortal, Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) has the people he kidnaps mining for pixie dust as they have no other choice. However, Peter is quick to question it all and makes friends with James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) – yes, that’s right, Captain Hook – and they escape ‘bad’ Neverland for the ‘real’ one over the wall.

It is when the tribe in Neverland realise Peter is the boy in their prophecy when the film takes a sudden turn. The audience has already seen Peter fly and the prophecy states that the boy who can fly will return to Neverland (where his father was from and the place his mother protected with her life) and revolutionise the whole island, taking it from Blackbeard’s evil dictatorship.

As expected in Pan, Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) is feisty and simply brilliant. She slaps Hook when he flirts with her, fights Blackbeard to the death and is generally a strong, independent female supporting character. Mara’s performance is sublime in Pan and it is clear why exactly she got the part: Mara has the same fire as Tiger Lily and is consequently exciting to watch. Not to mention her relationship with the witty Garrett Hedlund as Hook who is the driving force of humour in Pan.

With a budget of $150 million, Pan is visually stunning – but at a cost. As it only made $77.3 million at the box office, it looks financially unlikely that there will be a sequel, which is hinted at when Hook confirms he and Pan will be friends forever. Nevertheless, it is an impressive, action-packed and creative insight to who Peter Pan was before he knew he could fly. Pan provides a childhood favourite with a childhood and does so extremely well.