Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Rare Kids Movie That Adults May Prefer

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Rare Kids Movie That Adults May Prefer

Article excerpt


The latest big-screen iteration of the Peter Pan legend is rather a mess, but it's an exhilarating mess. "Pan" mixes astonishing CG action, plucky kids, goofy musical interludes with modern pop songs, and Hugh Jackman as a fey villain who looks like he got kicked out of a "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" audition.

The result is a thrill ride of a movie by parts giddy and scary, a joyful exercise in prodigious imagineering. It's the rare kids' movie that parents may actually prefer.

The story - screenplay by Jason Fuchs, based on the J.M. Barrie characters -- is essentially a prequel/retcon of the Peter Pan mythology. We're pre-Wendy & Co. here, focusing instead on how a cheeky British orphan first became the tights-wearing, flying, smirking never-grow-upper.

Most of the familiar gang is here: Smee, Tinkerbell, Lost Boys, Princess Tiger Lily, etc. But they're living in a despoiled Neverland much grimmer than what we're used to. The biggest curveball is James Hook, still young and unhooked, who throws off the shackles of his innate cynicism to become Peter's ally and best friend.

(No hint as to how their relationship and his hand came to be, uh, detached.)

It's a corker of a performance by Garrett Hedlund, who manages to suggest some of the verbal idiosyncrasies and vanity of Captain Hook, but with a cowboy American bent. He wears a long duster coat and an Indiana Jones hat, flirts shamelessly with Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and regards Peter as a wayward kid brother.

Levi Miller plays Peter, and he's solid in the role, blue eyes perpetually wide, though the character as written is a bit generic and bland. He's the window through which we experience this fantastical world, and -- as is so often the case with this kind of moviemaking -- the frame is not meant to draw the eye.

The real head-turner -- and scratcher, as some will see it -- is Jackman's pirate Blackbeard. He's just... well, his own thing. He wears extravagant Renaissance-style costumes, has a ghostly pallor and feral teeth, and the dark circles around his eyes are so deep it seems like he's staring at you from out of a graveyard hole. …

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