Sunday, December 20, 2015

Video review: "Pan"

File "Pan" under biggest flops of the year that deserved much better. This delightful, rousing adventure is the Peter Pan origin story, how a spirited English orphan first found his way to Neverland and learned how to never grow up.

Levi Miller plays Peter, who gets kidnapped from his London orphanage by some henchmen of the dread pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) to slave away in his mines, searching for lost fits of faerie dust. It seems Blackbeard, who looks like he was dug up out of the ground 10 minutes ago, defeated Tinkerbell & Co. and is now ruling Neverland as a semi-sane despot.

With the help of an incorrigible rogue names James Hook (!), Peter manages to escape from the pirate's clutches and falls in with Princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and the Indians, leading to yet more adventures.

It's a mishmash of wildly disparate story elements -- part J.M. Barrie, part Indiana Jones, and even something of a musical with a couple of interludes put to modern tunes like "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

If all this sounds loopy and unhinged, that's because it is. Director Joe Wright ("Atonement") and script man Jason Fuchs have essentially used Barrie's novels as a mere jumping-off point for their own industrious imaginations. They've essentially "retconned" one of the most enduring fantasy tales of all time, stealing inspiration and turning it to their own purposes.

Somehow, I think Peter Pan's rascally heart would approve of the appropriation. This is one flight of fancy worth booking.

Bonus features are decent, though not expansive. The DVD comes with only one making of featurette, "The Boy Who Would Be Pan."

Upgrade to the Blu-ray combo pack and you add three more featurettes: "Wondrous Realms," "The Scoundrels of Neverland" and "Never Grow Up: The Legend of Pan." Director Wright also provides a feature-length commentary track.



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