‘Pan’: Never, never take a chance on this prequel

“Pan” is a rush of a film, telling an origin story for Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but rarely stopping …

“Pan” is a rush of a film, telling an origin story for Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but rarely stopping long enough to allow you to care for the characters.

The most developed lead here is Peter (newcomer Levi Miller, who is quite good), a 12-year-old orphan in England who dreams of finding his mother and lives in an orphanage that would make Annie shudder.

Kids start disappearing from the orphanage and he and his pal suspect something illicit is going on. Sure enough, they’re right. Clown-faced miscreants and other such oddballs begin descending from the ceiling in the middle of the night, abducting children aboard their floating pirate ships. Then it’s off to Neverland where they’re forced to mine for magic pixie crystals for the pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman, clearly a graduate of the Johnny Depp school of overacting).

Now stuck in a mine, he meets the roguish James Hook (Garrett Hedlund, doing a kind of cowboy Indiana Jones thing that strangely works). The story starts unfolding like an explosion, going all over the place and never really landing in an interesting or unique way. Along the way you’ll encounter some of the familiar faces from the Peter Pan story, like Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), Smee (Adeel Akhtar), mermaids and some giant crocodiles. In terms of an origin story, it’s not incredibly interesting — it’s a digital paint-by-numbers actioner that touches on enough story points to work.

There are some impressive scenes, including one at sea with the crocs, and the final battle is a kinetic swashbuckling showdown.

But there are some odd choices, such as the sort of musical moment where the abducted children are first brought to Neverland. As the ship flies in, they’re all collectively chanting a version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” As they bellow “Here we are now, entertain us,” it’s hard to not empathize with them.

Scott A. Rosenberg