Directed by Joe Wright.
Starring Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara, Amanda Seyfried, Adeel Akhtar, Nonso Anozie, Kathy Burke, and Cara Delevingne.
12-year-old orphan Peter is spirited away to the magical world of Neverland, where he finds both fun and danger, and ultimately discovers his destiny — to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.
Pan is another one of those big budget movies no one asked for yet we were given anyway, which is all well and good because the Hollywood machine will keep on churning out whatever executives think have the potential to make money. Hey, if those movies end up being good despite no one craving them, there’s really nothing wrong with it; moviegoers see something of quality while rich people get paid, meaning it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Sometimes however, Hollywood big-wigs could not be any less clued in to what people actually want to watch, and that’s exactly where Pan falls. It’s an origin story to Peter Pan but bafflingly fails to explore any of the fable’s beloved fantasy characters to justify the point of a prequel. James Hook is here with two hands, and sorry to disappoint, but he doesn’t lose one of them, leaving you wondering what his purpose to this story is besides starting out as Peter’s friend. In a nutshell, Pan does take itself to be clever by switching around allegiances and adding ancestry to Peter’s parents, but in reality everything is hollow and rendered meaningless.
This is of course due to the fact that Pan is more of a special-effects extravaganza far too reliant on CGI. Some scenes in particular feature backgrounds that just feel like a miss-mash of colors in hopes of wowing audiences visually. Case in point, there is a scene where an underwater lagoon filled with mermaids has a magical power to illustrate past events, which is used to show Peter something incredibly important cementing the path of his journey, but all it actually does is leave yourself asking what the f***you just witnessed. Around 75% of Pan feels like it was conceived on drugs.
Seriously, how in the name of all that is holy do you come up with the idea to introduce Hugh Jackman’s Blackbeard (who doesn’t even really have a full beard so I’m just calling him Blackbeard-less for the rest of this review) singing along to Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit with his mining workers? I admire the bold move to be anachronistic but such an out of place, awkward decision must also be rooted in logic. It’s not, and that’s not even the dumbest scene, because moments later a group of pirates sing The Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop while Blackbeard-less begins executing people.
All of this nonsense could be forgiven if Pan told a cohesive story that was easy to buy into, but it instead just goes from lackluster action sequence to action sequence. Nothing here is even remotely memorable beyond being outlandishly stupid (during the final fight Peter starts blasting swarms of fairies at enemies as if he’s Goku from Dragonball Z). Why did the fairies absolutely need Peter there controlling them to be able to defend themselves? Truthfully, I’m past the point of caring and trying to figure it out, because this movie is just stupid.
Costume design is one area where Pan deserves some recognition, with many of the outfits being very elaborate and striking. Coming out the best here is Hugh Jackman’s Blackbeard-less, covered in all black clothes with ghoulish white skin complexion. There are some eyebrow raisers though, most notably whatever the heck that headdress Tiger Lily wears, and this blink-and-you-miss-it moment where a pirate resembling a member of an 80s hair-metal band tries to capture Peter. It’s also really weird that some characters attire miraculously changes from scene to scene despite no one actually having a chance to swap wardrobes, but in a movie this bad that’s chump change to complain about.
What I will also say is that it is never boring; Hugh Jackman seems very determined to chew up the scenery as a flamboyant devilish pirate and make the most of his screen-time, which unfortunately diminishes as the movie goes on. His motivations are summed up in one scene and he is as one-dimensional as baddies come, but he is having fun which is infectious for a brief moment.
The rest of the cast ranges from mediocre to awful; Garrett Hedlund’s Hook is hyperactive, Rooney Mara’s Tiger Lily is super serious about protecting the fairy kingdom, Smiegel is essentially a living cartoon creation, and Peter feels like you could pull any child off the street to play the part and yield the same results. Furthermore, their personalities are so wildly different from one another that no one has any chemistry with each other. It’s almost as if each actor interpreted the script in a different tone; some child friendly with wonder and others monotone and dramatic.
To be fair, I don’t even think director Joe Wright understood the tone of the script given to him by Jason Fuchs, as there is a scene where two characters are intended to fight to the death, but end up fighting on a trampoline. The little tussle is more humorous than anything, but the problem is that I seriously have no idea what the true intentions were. Pan is extremely tone deaf and unsure of whether it should embrace darker material or stick to its more family-friendly roots.
Most importantly, it’s simply amazing that Pan can begin in a bland colorless World War II London and wind up in a crystallized fairy kingdom, with both environments eliciting the same sense of indifference. A little bit more character and plot would have went a long way over uninspired CGI.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook