I read the screenplay for PAN this week. I had no idea what to expect going in other than it had something to do with the story of Peter Pan. I assumed this was some sort of modern day retelling of the fairytale, like “Snow White and the Huntsman” or “Red Riding Hood“. Boy was I wrong.
PAN is the story of “retired” Captain James Hook of the L.A.P.D. Hook specialized in finding missing, kidnapped, or otherwise missing children. He was good at his job. The best. The problem was, he cared too much, lost control, couldn’t separate work from life. After a particularly heinous act, he was removed from the force. But years later children are starting to disappear from L.A. in a most unusual way. Before long Police Commander Smee has to seek out the one man who he knows can find these kids, Hook. But while the investigation unfolds Hook and Smee realize the person responsible for the kidnappings isn’t what they seem.
I REALLY enjoyed reading this thriller. I was completely caught by surprise. The screenwriter, Benjamin Magid writes in a quick and fun manner, without overly complex sentences or unusual adjectives. Description is short and to the point. Action is tight and easy to read. Dialog flows, with very few beats taking more than three lines. It read fast, just like a thriller should. But that’s not to say the writing was astounding, because it wasn’t. There wasn’t anything here that made me think, technically speaking, “Shit, this Magid guy can write!” No, what set this script apart was the story contained within, and that’s where Magid excels.
There were a few cliched moments. Some lines didn’t really come across that well. But those issues were far and few between. We flowed through the world Magid created just as Hook did. Learning each facet. Discovering each new clue. You were right there with him, trying to put the pieces together. But on a separate level, you were waiting for each new easter egg from the original story to pop up. All of these layers worked perfectly together, and delivered a VERY satisfying read.
One of the coolest things about PAN was how exposition was handled. There’s a reason so many thrillers use police as main characters. Police, by the very nature of their jobs, have to ask questions and get answers. They CONSTANTLY seek information. So when they’re interviewing or interrogating a suspect, or researching a crime, the exposition that’s coming across doesn’t feel added in for the audiences sake. It feels natural. Because it is. Add in a lead with as many layers and depth as Hook, and it’s just all that more fulfilling.
PAN was a really fun time. The film is slated to be released sometime in 2012 and I’d encourage you to take a read of this script if you can get your hands on it, especially if you’re looking to write a thriller any time soon. It’s a solid example of how to take an established world of characters and put a complete 180 spin on them.