Spoiler Alert Saturday :: her thoughts on Pan

11 Oct

She, drift partner, got back from this movie and actually asked to write this review as a way of processing.  I immediately agreed and it does not disappoint

Friends, I have so many questions.

Full disclosure, I wanted to give Pan a chance because I’m a big fan of Peter Pan (mostly the novel, though I have a soft spot for the movie) and also of the director, Joe Wright. I haven’t seen Anna Karenina or Atonement yet, but I like Pride & Prejudice and The Soloist and I adore Hanna, and I like the quiet, somber tone of his movies. When they announced this movie, I was excited – and then I heard about Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily. And then I started seeing trailers. And my expectations plummeted.

Honestly, I hadn’t been planning to see this one in the theater unless it got exceptionally good reviews, but there I was on Thursday night at 8:45 PM because my friend and I had to change our plans at the last minute. (I will take this moment to praise the movie we were trying to see, Freeheld, as a sweet and earnest, if a bit heavy-handed, film, which you should probably track down instead of this movie.) I don’t know what I expected, but it sure wasn’t what I got.

Presented in bullet point form with spoilers galore, because I really just need to go through plot point by plot point, it is so batshit.

  • So this movie is a prequel to Peter Pan, apparently. I’ve read several “prequels” before (Peter and the Starcatchers being the only one I can actually remember significant parts of) and I’m pretty willing to go along with weird shit in the name of remixes and prequels. In this story, infant Peter is left on the doorstep of a boy’s home by his mother, Amanda Seyfried, with a handwritten letter and a pan flute token tucked in with him. “We will meet again, in this life or another,” she promises, and I, being a reasonable person, assumed she meant heaven. Oh no, she did not.
  • Peter (Levi Mills) gets to be about 8-10, and we see him with his friend Nibs (Lewis MacDougall) while they live at Miss Trunchbull’s Nunnery (it’s not called that but it might as well be). Honestly, Peter and Nibs’ interactions were probably one of the most enjoyable parts of the movie for me, because both child actors are at least decent and they have a sweet friendship, Peter coaxing Nibs into mischief such as sneaking into the head nun’s office to find her hidden rations and the records room.
  • OH ALSO Peter is afraid of heights. Because why not.
  • Boys are disappearing from the school, allegedly being evacuated because of the war (to Canada, which was one of the jokes I found kind of funny), and Peter finds this fishy. Little did he know, they’re being KIDNAPPED BY PIRATES. Like, the pirates literally show up after the nuns hang the Jolly Roger from the flagpole and drop down with ropes to snatch up the boys from their beds. This is not even in the top 20 of weird shit that happens in this movie.
  • Nibs jumps off the boat, but Peter won’t because heights. Oh my god I just remembered that a squadron of female pilots chases after the ship, trying to shoot it down. This was kind of a fun sequence, honestly. Then Peter ties a rope to his ankle and goes floating in space for a bit before they haul him back in. He touches Saturn, which is tiny and model-like. Why does this happen? I don’t know.
  • Finally they land in Neverland, in a vast canyon full of boys, which prompts Peter to ask “Is this…Canada?” (I chuckled). This is where it really started to go off the rails, because, in a scene that seems like it was lifted directly from Mad Max: Fury Road, Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) swaggers out to receive accolades from his perch above them while the other pirates menace the orphan children into joining in on the chorus of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Yes, that happens. It took me a full minute to process that that’s what was happening.
  • Blackbeard is our stand-in Captain Hook, and he wants the boys to mine for…it’s pixie dust, but they call it “pixum” or something, and nobody knows why. I was reminded of nothing so much as the first Guardians of Ga’Hoole book, which is a reference no one will get and that’s all right. Somewhere in there, Smee (Adeel Akhtar) shows up as basically the foreman except ineffectual (I just looked up his full name and it is listed as Sam Smiegel what the hell), as does one James Hook (Garrett Hedlund).
  • I am going to devote an entire bullet point to Hook, because he is one of the things that baffles me most about this movie. Hook is an old-fashioned American cowboy, complete with a hat (where did he get it? WHO KNOWS), and he acts like he doesn’t want to be Peter’s friend because all he wants is to get off the island, but of course he warms up to him eventually. Hedlund seems to have been directed to play Hook as the most cliche lone wolf stereotype, and he clashes weirdly with the tone of the rest of the movie. A lot of times, he doesn’t even seem to know what he’s doing there. There’s also a bullshit love story, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
  • So anyway, Peter is mining and finds some pixum, but another miner steals credit and when he tries to protest, he finds himself dragged before an audience of his peers on trial. Essentially, the “walking the plank” part of this movie involves the accused boys on a plank suspended above the canyon, while Hook presents their case and asks his orphans to give a verdict. Their mercy is rare, and Peter finds himself walking the plank (herein begins the running theme of Blackbeard suggesting “think a happy thought” just before he kills someone) – but when he falls, he discovers that he can fly! It seems like a fluke, until Blackbeard brings him into his quarters and explains to him that the “natives” have a prophecy about a child born from the love of a fairy prince and a human woman, a child who could fly and who would bring deliverance from Blackbeard. Peter is freaked out and runs away from him, and then Hook, ever the opportunist, asks him to help him get off Neverland. Peter agrees, if Hook helps him find his mother, since she’s apparently still alive somewhere on the island.
  • The escape plan fails and Peter, Hook, and Smee end up in the forest, far from the pirates but also lost. They’re chased by Never Birds, which are a thing in the book, but only one shows up and she rescues Peter, so that was weird. Also they’re literal skeletons with feathers stuck on and I think if they were animated better I would’ve been genuinely creeped out, but they looked like SyFy Channel Original Movie monsters. I can’t find a single picture on Google, but trust me, they look bad.
  • Eventually they fall into the company of the “natives” and. Whoo boy. Alright, so the original story and the Disney movie are racist as hell and there’s nothing we can do about that now except be embarrassed for everyone. This movie…attempts to put a Band-Aid on a gaping wound by calling them vague “natives” (and “savages,” which, yikes) and by including a diverse spectrum of races in the crowd. But Rooney Mara is still Tiger Lily and my friend and I were still uncomfortable. Also, she wears this monstrosity on her head, which I swear had Koosh balls stuck on it. The entire camp looked like that, garish and weird and not unlike someone let a six-year-old design it. I want a word with the art department for this movie.
  • There’s a fight between Hook and the “champion” of the village, which was kind of interesting to watch because a) it featured Hook getting beat up and b) the champion was played by a man who I think must have been an actual acrobat. Eventually Peter helps Hook defeat the champion because plot reasons and Tiger Lily and the chief notice Peter’s pan flute necklace and are like THE MESSIAH. Herein ensues basically this Game of Thrones scene and jesus it was awkward. So they’re like, show us you can fly within three days or we’re throwing you out and the fairy kingdom that the messiah is supposed to be able to get to will remain secret (the fairies went into hiding because Blackbeard). There were some really weird Christian overtones in this movie.
  • Somewhere in here started the bullshit love story between Hook and Tiger Lily and what I said to my friend was, what, is Hook’s backstory that he got friendzoned and was mad about it? Because, spoiler, absolutely nothing happens to cause a rift between him and Peter. (I’m not sure if this is better or worse than the end of X-Men: First Class, which invents drama in the last five minutes in order to set up the Magneto-Xavier rivalry.) But anyway, Tiger Lily goes back and forth from seeming ambivalent to hating Hook in this movie, and yet he will not leave her alone because…pretty face???? It was the stupidest excuse for romance I’ve seen all year.
  • So Blackbeard shows up to ambush the “natives” and…this is when we found out that when the natives die, they turn into brightly colored puffs of smoke. Um. I was still operating under the delusion that Tiger Lily & co. were fairies at this point, and this did nothing to dissuade me from that belief. Peter does some stuff with Never Birds and manages to get himself, Hook, and Tiger Lily out, but none of the others. Oh, also the chief of the tribe dies because Hook was an idiot and ran his mouth about the map to the fairy kingdom. So Tiger Lily hates him again because, uh, this is how romance works I guess. Somewhere in there Peter found out Blackbeard actually killed his mother so he freaks out again, but finally decides to do the right thing and help Tiger Lily protect the fairy kingdom.
  • They’re trying to get to there before Blackbeard finds the hidden map to the kingdom and beats them to it. They find the giant crocodiles – “They can fly too!” says Hook; no they can’t, idiot, they just jumped over the boat – and the mermaids. The mermaids were kind of cool, honestly; their tails were bioluminescent and that’s how they chased away the crocodiles, which are apparently afraid of light? I wanted the mermaids to be there for longer than they were. They also…laced the water with…memories I don’t know what was going on but anyway, Peter gets to see the story of his parents. His father the fairy prince magicked himself into a human in order to rescue Peter’s mother, Mary – because he’s the messiah HAHA GET IT – from Blackbeard’s harem or whatever, and brought her back to earth, but apparently fairy-to-human bodies only last for a day? So there was some Kyle Reese-Sarah Connor shit going on and anyway, Mary ends up going back to Neverland after she drops Peter off and becoming a warrior. She fights Blackbeard’s army before Blackbeard accidentally (??? it was vague) kills her, and we also find out at this point that Mary trained Tiger Lily. At this point I said to my friend, “I would much rather watch the movie about them instead.”
  • So finally they make it to the fairy kingdom secret doorway or whatever and there’s a confrontation with Blackbeard where he’s like “your mother would be so disappointed” and then it turns out the pan flute necklace was the key to the kingdom because why not, so he opens it and is like JACKPOT. Oh my god I forgot that earlier it was established that Blackbeard wants the pixum because it is literally the same stuff as the genetic material from Jupiter Ascending, like, he wants eternal youth.
  • Then there is…a very confusing fight scene in the fairy kingdom, which basically looks like a tunnel made out of crystal. Nonsensically, Blackbeard is spraying flamethrowers all over, killing hundreds of fairies, which I personally would not do to the only source of my eternal youth juice, but that’s me? Peter is chatting with Tinker Bell because he can understand her, of course, and eventually he rallies the fairies to, as my friend put it, kamehameha them into Blackbeard. (This is about the point when I realized that the only thing that could’ve made Jupiter Ascending more glorious is if Jupiter had done something similar with the bees to Eddie Redmayne.)
  • At one point, Blackbeard interrupts Tiger Lily’s fight with another pirate to yell “Mind if I cut in?” before he swings his sword at her. I laughed because I could not believe such a bad pun was happening.
  • So eventually Blackbeard dies, I’m not sure how. From being too evil? From fairy battering? I don’t know. Peter sees his mother because the fairies…form her…I don’t know, and they talk for a minute and it’s honestly almost sweet except that it’s so bizarre. So then Peter, Hook, and Tiger Lily get on Blackbeard’s ship and go back to England to rescue his friends from Miss Trunchbull’s, and the last shot of the movie is the back of the ship, which nonsensically has a neon sign reading JOLLY ROGER on it.

I’m sure I’m leaving things out. It is impossible to convey the amount of batshit contained in this movie. Which is not to say it’s a good movie at all! Or even, really, that much fun. I suspect it might be more fun with booze, but honestly that is more trouble than you probably want to go to for this movie.

In conclusion, go see Freeheld instead. Or rent Jupiter Ascending. Same flavor of batshit, without uncomfortable undertones!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: