Saturday, January 16, 2016

Paper to Popcorn #7: Hook & Jill vs. Pan (2015)

Welcome to Paper to Popcorn! Paper to Popcorn is not be your typical book vs. movie comparison. The focus is on retellings, although there will be some features of movie vs. the source material. Each chosen book/movie combo will battle it out in a showdown to prove which one is the best on its own merits. Posts will feature reviews of both the film and book, rating scales, a brief outline of differences between the two, and characters, and ultimately a victor will be chosen.

This week I'm featuring Hook & Jill by Andrea Jones, and the newest movie adaptation of Peter Pan, two retellings of this classic story that go a little off the beaten path.

The Book

Title: Hook & Jill
Author: Andrea Jones
Publication Date: July 28, 2009
Publisher: Reginetta Press
Pages: 300
Add to Goodreads

//I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review//

In this startling new vision of a cultural classic, Wendy intends to live happily ever after with Peter Pan. But Time, like this tale,behaves in a most unsettling way. As Wendy mothers the Lost Boys in Neverland, they thrive on adventure. She struggles to keep her boys safe from the Island's many hazards, but she finds a more subtle threat encroaching from an unexpected quarter. . . . The children are growing up, and only Peter knows the punishment.

Not too long ago I went on something of a Hook binge. I just couldn't get enough of Captain Hook and his tortured, complex self. First I read Never, Never (amazing, by the way), then a ton of fanfiction (I have no shame)! Then I came across this adult Hook retelling and got really, super excited! I don't review a ton of adult fiction on the blog, but I felt like I could definitely get into a Captain Hook retelling that could also go into some more adult territory...

Hook & Jill is something of a coming of age story with Wendy as the main character. In Neverland with her brothers, she has taken on her familiar motherly role with the lost boys. But Wendy is growing up, despite Peter's best efforts, and she's looking for someone to share her adult life with her. She wants that person to be Peter (obviously, Tink isn't cool with this), but he's too firmly set on never growing up. Just across the island is Captain Hook and his pirates. Is it any surprise that they would become involved? Obviously, Peter isn't cool with this.

I really enjoyed this retelling of Peter, Wendy, and Hook! Each of the characters were complex and had familiar storylines, but there were also plenty of unique elements to the fairytale to keep it interesting. Like several other retellings I've come across (and even the original to some extent), Peter is more of a dark, twisted character than the Disney version portrays. A lot of this is owed to his child-like nature, but he's also just really disturbing in general. Tink's jealous side also comes out a lot more in this retelling. I've honestly never been able to stand her character, even in my childhood, and this book made me dislike her even more and she made me quite uncomfortable at times. That isn't entirely a bad thing, though!

There were also some great new characters, Rowan being my favorite! His relationship with Slightly was a great addition to the story! And then there's Hook himself. This book definitely did not disappoint in making Hook's character even more complex and dashing! That isn't to say he did not maintain his dark and manipulative traits, because he most certainly still is something of a villain.

The world building of Hook & Jill was also really fantastic! Obviously, Andrea Jones had a really amazing starting point for Neverland, but she managed to add even more new, beautiful places and make the old ones come to life.

While I did really enjoy Hook & Jill, there were also things I didn't completely love. Although I enjoyed Wendy's story, I found it hard to identify with her at times. I certainly understand wanting to grow up and be seen as an adult, but I had a hard time getting on board with her desire to be a pirate. I do understand why it might be necessary in order to have her end up with Captain Hook. I also found myself becoming a little confused a couple times about what was going on and had to go back to double check. The book also dragged in a few places and I did find myself putting it down when the action lagged, although that tends to happen with a lot of books so I can't really fault this one in particular.

Overall, I liked Hook & Jill a lot! I love getting to read new takes on this classic tale. This was my first dive into adult retellings and I definitely was not disappointed! It wasn't perfect, but it was an enjoyable read that I think most Peter Pan fans will enjoy. I definitely do plan to read the second part of this series!

Characters Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Setting Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Writing Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Storyline Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Cover Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Overall Rating 1/5 2/5 3/5 4/5 5/5

The Movie

Title: Pan
Director: Joe Wright
Actors: Hugh Jackman, Levi Miller
Release Date: October 9, 2015
Runtime: 111 minutes
View on IMDB

The story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny -- to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.

Peter Pan is one of my very favorite stories and, even more than that, Captain Hook is one of my very favorite villains! From the moment I saw this movie announced I knew I would probably love it. Then the ratings started coming in and the message boards started filling up with disappointment so I moved it to the back burner and decided not to spend $10 to see it on the big screen. Still, I was (reluctantly) excited about it, so snatched up a copy to watch at home the first chance I got! This is definitely not your typical Peter Pan story.

Pan goes way back. Waaaaay back to before Peter ever went to Neverland. It tells a little bit of backstory, which is pretty much the opposite of what we've all been told. Peter is an orphan living in London during World War II. He's kidnapped by pirates and taken to Neverland, which is where the movie got really, really weird. There was a lot that I enjoyed about Neverland, but there was also a lot that I took issue with. Why don't we start with the good?

Like most Peter Pan movies, this retelling was bright and (mostly) gorgeous. The scene of the pirate ship first entering Neverland was breathtaking! I thought the blobs of ocean and fish was brilliant! Another thing I was extremely impressed by was Levi Miller's acting. This kid is pretty new to the acting scene and was really impressive! I'm not 100% sure that he's Peter Pan, but I think that might be more attributed to the script and directing than his acting. He seemed genuine and I honestly had no idea he was Australian! I also enjoyed getting to see the friendly relationship between Captain Hook and Peter Pan, an element I've seen (and enjoyed) in other retellings, although I really wish there had been more to it. I'm assuming we were eventually going to see them become enemies in the now cancelled sequel. This is honestly disappointing because I thought the story itself was actually pretty great (as long as I don't think too hard about plot holes)! I love new Pan stories!

And that brings us to the bad. There are quite a few things I'd love to rant about in this review, but I'm going to try to keep it to the top three.

First of all, I really could not get into Garrett Hedlund as Captain Hook. I'm not really sure what anyone was thinking with this performance but it was ten kinds of wrong. Some things should not be tampered with and Captain Hook is British. He just is. Hedlund came off as a weird blend of Dr. McCoy from Star Trek, Han Solo, and Jack Nicholson. He screamed half his lines. Every single time he opened his mouth it ripped me right out of the movie! His entire part was way overacted. When I first saw that he had been cast as Hook, I believed he could pull it off. Then he opened his mouth.

Second, what the heck with the music? So Peter gets to Neverland and is greeted by... Smells Like Teen Spirit. I mean, WHAT? Did they just want an excuse for Hugh Jackman to sing? Don't get me wrong! It was a pretty cool sequence. It just didn't fit with this movie.

Finally, the CGI was embarrassingly bad. I mean, it was comparable to Polar Express CGI from 2004, especially during Peter's flying scenes. In 2015, noticeably bad CGI in such a hyped movie is just unacceptable.

I wanted to love this movie so freaking much! It ended up being weird. Like, really weird. It was too over the top. It's almost like it was trying too hard to be different. For example, since WHEN are the natives of Neverland of several different races? I mean, in the Disney version they literally sing a song called What Makes the Red Man Red. But I digress. Pan was good. It had some quality acting from Hugh Jackman and Levi Miller, a decent soundtrack, and some really killer landscape shots. Unfortunately, this one was just mediocre. If you want to see a truly amazing Peter Pan movie, definitely go for the 2003 version! (You can check out my review of that one here!)

Cast Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Cinematography Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Screenplay Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Performances Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Music Terrible Just okay Pretty good Really good Amazing!
Overall Rating 1/5 2/5 3/5 4/5 5/5

Notable Differences

  • Hook & Jill is a strict retelling, while Pan is more of a prequel. 
  • Wendy is a main character in Hook & Jill, but does not appear at all in Pan. 
  • Captain Hook in Hook & Jill IS the Hook we already know (and he has the hook to prove it), but is still one of the good guys in Pan. 
  • Hook & Jill is a retelling and has all of the classic characters. The only recognizable characters in Pan are Peter, Hook, and Tiger Lily. The rest are new to the story. 
  • In Hook & Jill Peter is a pretty deranged character, but in Pan he's a hero who leads a rebellion. 

The Bottom Line

While both of these retellings take very different paths, there has to be victor here and it wasn't that hard to choose. While Hook & Jill was a really enjoyable, adult take on the Peter Pan story, Pan was a really weird, over the top prequel that we'll never know the end of since the next movie got canned. If Pan hadn't tried quite so hard to be different it might have been a way better movie.