The Ninjabot

Film Review: PAN (2015)

Posted on October 7, 2015 at 6:21 pm by Dylan Reynolds

Arriving a couple years late to the reboot/ prequel party for “re-envisioned public domain characters” (think: Snow White and the Huntsmen, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, and Jack the Giant Slayer)- PAN attempts to flesh out cjznj-iuwaecofz-jpg-largeeverything that was suggested and/or eluded to in the original J.M Barrie text- except this time everything is… EXTREME!!!

Another fitting title for this flick could have been PETER PAN: ORIGINS because it literally traces the future “Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up” as he gets dumped off at an orphanage where he then becomes a rebellious adolescent that is a thorn in the side of the evil head-mistress.

The plot kicks into gear at the dawn of WW2- when Peter (played by Levi Miller- a solid child actor) starts to notice some of the orphans are mysteriously disappearing. Then one night he is whisked away by some Pirates that look like rejects from Cirque du Soleil as they drop down from the rafters and snatch up the children and toss them into a flying pirate ship. Once Peter is on board his captors engage in an aerial dogfight with some British warplanes in a hair raising action sequence.

PAN shows some promise in these early sequences- obviously attempting to ape the kid friendly fantasy/ adventure films of the Lucas/ Spielberg heyday. And much like these 80s kid adventures movies- the boy’s rebel against authority- get into trouble- and even engage in some light maxresdefaultcursing. But above all else- it has that sense of childhood wonder like E.T., Goonies, and yes, even Hook… at least at first.

That’s because once Peter reaches Neverland PAN begins its gradual downward descent. The first thing that pulled me right out of the movie is when the “Slaves of Neverland” (i.e. the “lost boys” who are forced to mine for “fairy dust”) start chanting lyrics from Nirvana and then Ramones for no discernable reason. It’s really weird because there’s no other “modern elements” in the movie and it’s distracting as all hell. Generally speaking- I appreciated some of the bold choices director Joe Wright (HANA, 2005’s PRIDE & PREJUDICE) went with here- but there’s a few of these stylistic flourishes that just fall flat on their face.

And speaking of falling flat on their face- Peter is aided in escaping the clutches of the maniacal Captain Bluebeard (a scenery chewing Hugh Jackman- clearly having fun) by Indiana Jon-… er, I mean Han Sol-… nope, scratch that, Peter Quil-… no, still not right. He’s actually saved by pre- bad guy James Hook- who actor Garrett Hedlund plays like an impression of Jack Nicholson by way of Karl Urban’s Dr. Bones.

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It’s a bizarre Nicholas Cage- level performance (and not in a good way) that drags the whole movie down and causes the romantic sub plot with Princess Leia… er, I mean Tiger Lily (a wasted and doe-eyed Rooney Mara) to not work at all.

At any rate- the rest of the movie drifts into the typical fantasy/ adventure clichés where Peter learns that he is “The One” and must fulfill his destiny of defeating Bluebeard, saving Neverland, blah, blah, blah… All of it culminating in an extended action sequence in the “cave of magical fairies” with a bunch of unconvincing CGI.

Like the aforementioned would be franchise starters of “public domain characters as modern day action heroes”- PAN is kind of a mess and a mixed bag. But it’s not without it’s positive points- especially in the set design/ art department categories. And to its credit there’s a sense of genuine fun and positive vibes that help smooth over the rough patches.

Overall it’s not really my jam as a 35-ish year old male and discerning filmgoer- but I could see myself digging this flick when I was 12… and at the end of the day- maybe that’s all PAN needed to do. But I think there are signs here and there that it could have been much better.

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