‘Pan’ represents worst of Hollywood

A few years ago, I saw a performance of “Wicked,” the musical prequel to “The Wizard of Oz” that became a Broadway sensation. While it was no doubt an impressive production with two genuinely great musical numbers (out of what felt like 30), it left me with one question: Why?

I have no inherent problem with sequels and prequels (I gave “Furious 7” five stars), but the fascination with explaining classic tales makes no sense to me. Do we really need to know why the Tin Man is the Tin Man?

Enter “Pan,” a big-budget, live-action story about Peter Pan and Captain Hook. In attaching a generic “chosen one” story and effects-heavy action sequences to something that didn’t need it, this movie is an unintentional parody of the worst things about Hollywood right now.

Here, our boy Peter (Levi Miller, in his first major film role) is an orphan living in London during Germany’s bombing campaign in WWII. A flying pirate ship somehow eludes the Royal Air Force’s sight for several minutes before kidnapping Peter to work as a slave for the notorious pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) in Neverland.

Blackbeard makes his slaves mine for fairy dust to power an elaborate vape rig that maintains his youthful appearance. He also forces them to sing Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” which is never explained.

As you might imagine, Peter turns out to be a special boy spoken of in the fairy kingdom’s prophecy, the one who will end Blackbeard’s reign of terror. This is all part of a needlessly complicated backstory that involves war, genocide and star-crossed lovers.

Garrett Hedlund also appears as James Hook, a wisecracking, Han Solo-esque slave who helps Peter escape from the mines by commandeering a pirate ship. Hedlund is terrible in this role, as his shouty overacting undermines the sly wit needed to play this kind of character.

By far the worst casting decision in “Pan” is Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily. Seeing a white woman prance around in “tribal” attire is downright embarrassing. 

There’s an argument to be made that Tiger Lily (traditionally depicted as a Native American) is a racist caricature, but if you absolutely must include the character, at least get a Native American actor. They exist and would accept a paycheck just like anyone else.

Jackman, meanwhile, brings absolutely nothing to the role of Blackbeard. He’s little more than a typical, sneering villain with some regrettable makeup and costuming. 

Also, the special effects in “Pan” are terrible. Several scenes devolve into incomprehensible CGI vomit, and many of the digital landscapes are entirely unconvincing.

Peter flying around and shooting fairy energy out of his hands like a “Dragon Ball Z” character in the movie’s climax is one of the most unintentionally hilarious things you’ll see all year.

But if you see “Pan” at all, know that you’re making a grave mistake. Adaptations like this don’t deserve support on any level. Don’t let them win.