Saturday, April 29, 2017


Year 9, Day 119 - 4/29/17 - Movie #2,614

BEFORE: Jeez, it's almost the end of another month.  Wait, 30 days has September, April... Yep, it's almost the end of the month and after dealing with Thumbelina and Cinderella already this year, there's just enough time left in April to deal with Peter Pan.  Hugh Jackman carries over for his fifth and final film in this chain.  This would be another potential linking dead-end, if not for my rule change, where characters can carry over.

THE PLOT: 12-year-old orphan Peter is spirited away to the magical world of Neverland, where he finds both fun and danger, and ultimately discovers his destiny - to become the hero known as Peter Pan.

AFTER: Stop me if you've heard this one before - an orphaned young boy finds out that he not only has magical powers, but is also the one who's prophesied to defeat the evil power.  I bet that more than one critic referred to this film as "Potter Pan" when it was released a couple of years ago.  But wait, there's more, because whoever put this prequel together decided to throw in elements of "Star Wars", "Lord of the Rings", "Avatar" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" to create a back-story for Peter Pan that nobody ever needed or even asked for.  (Turns out J.M. Barrie did write an origin story for Peter, and this ain't it.).

When we first meet Peter, he's an orphan in a war-torn London - now, since the original "Peter Pan" was written in 1906, that would suggest this should be World War I, but the planes we see are more like WW2 fighters, if I'm not mistaken - but I'm not an expert on such things.  (Yeah, in a world with flying pirate ships and fairies, I'm upset that they got the planes wrong.  Deal with it.)  Peter and his friend, Nibs, figure out that the nuns in charge are hoarding rations, keeping them from the kids, and also try to solve the mystery of why their fellow orphans keep disappearing.  Aha, if everything in the fantasy world has an origin in the "real" world, then those would be the "Lost Boys", I feel you.

But just as there seemed to be a real mystery to solve in London, one that was starting to intrigue me, we learn that the young boys have been taken to Neverland, to work in the mines for Blackbeard, who promises them a lot of fun and candy.  Right, because swinging a pick-ax in a mine fits with most kids' definition of "fun".  They're mining fairy dust, which also happens to be a substance that Blackbeard is quite addicted to.  (Umm, kids, this is your brain on drugs...).

NITPICK POINT: The kids in the mines chant bits of songs like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Blitzkrieg Bop".  But wait, you just told me this was around the time of World War 2, how do they know those songs?  Wait, did Baz Luhrmann direct this, is this like "Moulin Rouge" where the people in 1800's France knew all the modern-day pop songs?  At best, this was a distracting reminder that took me out of the fantasy reality.

But it's in the mines that Peter meets James Hook, who we all know is destined to become his great enemy, but first (apparently) they formed an uneasy alliance to take down Blackbeard.  There are all sorts of in-joke references here, like we see James using a curved sharpening tool that looks an awful lot like the hook that will one day replace his hand.  And this explains how he came to work with a low-level mining supervisor named Sam Smiegel (later Smee, no doubt).

There are a couple of nice things that come out of this frenemy relationship, such as a potential love triangle between Peter, Hook and Tiger Lily.  But the film doesn't really go there - in fact, it doesn't go much of anywhere, which makes you wonder if they were intentionally saving the best stuff for "Pan 2" which would edge the story closer to the one we're all used to.  Instead it skips from one plot track to another - Peter's got to find his mother.  No, wait, first we've got to defeat Blackbeard.  No, wait, first we've got to get to Fairy Land.  These different goals don't necessarily dovetail together just because you want them to.

The stage productions of "Peter Pan" are usually full of Freudian elements, which I'll get more in to tomorrow.  But if Wendy Darling had father issues, it turns out that Peter was always yearning for his mother's love, which is also very Freudian/Oedipal.  This explains why he would gravitate toward older women, like Tiger Lily, and also why he has this inner yearning to never grow up.  It's a very odd omission, why doesn't Peter ever ask for more details about his father, hmmm?

Also starring Levi Miller, Garrett Hedlund (last seen in "Inside Llewyn Davis"), Rooney Mara (last seen in "Lion"), Adeel Akhtar (last seen in "The Dictator"), Nonso Anozie (last seen in "Cinderella"), Amanda Seyfried (last seen in "Ted 2"), Lewis MacDougall, Cara Delevigne (last seen in "Suicide Squad"), Kathy Burke (last seen in "Sid and Nancy"), Jack Charles, Na Tae-joo, Bronson Webb (last seen in "Rogue One"), Paul Kaye.

RATING: 4 out of 10 trampolines

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