Director: Joe Wright
Producer: Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter & Paul Webster.
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures.
Writer: Jason Fuchs.
Starring: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund & Rooney Mara.
Music: John Powell.
Editing: Paul Tothill & William Hoy.
Cinematography: Seamus McGarvey & John Mathieson.
Budget: $150 million.
Box Office: $128. 4 million.
Runtime: 1 hr 51 mins.
Release Date: October 16th 2015
Written in 1911 by J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan has always been a recognisable name in the media. Disney did the animated classic simply named, Peter Pan in 1953; its 2002 sequel called Peter Pan: Return to Neverland followed suite. Robin Williams starred in the superb classic film Hook in 1991 as an adult Peter, and in 2004, a J.M. Barrie biopic called Finding Neverland was made starring Johnny Depp as the author and Kate Winslet as his wife. Now in 2015, we have Pan, which seeks to explore the origins of the famed character; this orign/prequel has a big budget and a well known cast. Can this film succeed or won’t Pan, PAN out? (Sorry!)
Peter was left on the doorstep of an orphanage as a baby with nothing but a letter from his mother and a small pan pendant around his neck. 12 years later, during World War 2 as bombs drop from the sky every night, something else is flying over London; a magical pirate ship, the crew of which steal Peter and other orphans in the middle of the night and take them to Neverland to mine for fairy-dust under the rule of the pirate king; Blackbeard. But Pan finds an ally in James Hook who helps him escape and join forces with the local natives led by Tiger Lily. The three must find the Fairy Kingdom to unlock the mystery to a prophecy revolving around a boy who can fly and lead an uprising against Blackbeard.
When viewing the trailers and other promotional material, I could see huge potential being mined here. An origin story for Peter Pan was a bit hit or miss for me, as it seems like nearly everything has to have a prequel or origin story. However the land of Neverland I was anticipating to see in live action again. It’s a whimsical, magical land with Pirates, Indians/Tribes, Fairies and Mermaids; you’d have to really try to mess up this concept in live action, just let the audience see this world and how it works and they will be satisfied. Unfortunately, I can safely that the world of Neverland is very poorly defined, as the world building for this mystical world is botched, as we only get to see not even a quarter of this world. All the audience gets to see in Neverland is a huge mining pit and some forests, and what we do see is simply represented as a generic fantasy world. As a result, this means that Neverland comes across as bland and uninspired and lacks the magical, childlike nature.
A huge chunk of the Peter Pan story seems to be left un-shown in this film, as by the end of Pan, we don’t get to see the Lost Boys and the one thing that could’ve made the film a lot better was the fleshing out of Hook’s character. In Pan, he is portrayed terribly by Garrett Hedlund, who seems to speak through his teeth when playing him, and he comes across as such an exaggerated and pantomime like character. The nail in the coffin here is that he allies with Peter and helps him escape the mine and find Tiger Lily and defeat Blackbeard. The lack of accuracy to the original source material is baffling. Pan is meant to be an origin to the character, but even so, some accuracy needs to be put in there. And whats even worse is that at the end of the film, everyone is on the flying pirate ship and Peter asks Hook if they’ll be friends forever to which Hook says yes. Its such a laughable ending and its so cheesy that its hard to take serious. It just ends suddenly like its trying to set up a franchise; which by the way will never happen, due to its poor box office takings. This character arc could’ve easily been fixed, by having Hook be an allay to Peter Pan and then betray him and then have the confrontation that led to Pan cutting Hook’s hand off. That would’ve made for an epic viewing experience and a chance to see t.he crocodile that is nowhere to be found in this movie.
Levi Miller as Peter Pan is a decent child actor who I think could go places in the film industry if he continues to strive. He did a decent job at portraying Pan and he wasn’t annoying or go over the top in the role. Rooney Mara was strange casting as Tiger Lily, as she didn’t really lead much of an impression for me and was quite forgettable, however the only good thing in Pan is Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard. He really elevates this film to make it enjoyable to watch, as Blackbeard is a fun villain and Jackman looks like he’s relishing the character and he gives a fun and brilliant performance. And finally for some reason, Cara Delevingne is the mermaids and her face is rendered on all the mermaids and its strange that she is in this film, as she isn’t given a speaking role, and also the mermaids appear for literally one scene and then they’re gone.
Pan’s production ranges from mostly dull and terrible, as the special effects look really poor. When Pan flies in the film, especially towards the end, its not believable, as Pan looks like he’s just floating along in the air on wires and its a badly done effect. The music from John Powell is forgettable, as it doesn’t have any memorable whimsical tunes, however Joe Wright the director does include some shots that reveal the world of Neverland and it does reveal areas of this world that isn’t even explored. What a huge waste of potential.
The most obnoxious thing about Pan is its inclusion of the “Chosen One” narrative that is so overused in blockbusters today. The prophecy in the film is that theres a boy who can fly and can defeat Blackbeard and obviously that is Peter Pan, but we already know this and it makes for a really predictable and generic story. In addition, there actually are some moments in Pan, which are fun, enjoyable entertainment, as such Peter and Hook going through the Indians’ forest, and the introduction and the final showdown with Blackbeard.
Pan is a poor retelling of the Peter Pan character, as there are many undercooked areas of the source material that are missing here, even though this film is an origin story. Hook being an allay of Peter, the famous crocodile not being present, as well as the Lost Boys, Pan fails to include J.M. Barrie’s recognisable elements of the story and develop them. The world of Neverland feels generic, boring and uninspired, as there are many many areas that are not shown to the audience and it doesn’t feel magical in any way. Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard is the only redeeming feature of this film, as well as Levi Miller, as the production is terrible at best. Kids might enjoy this film, but adults may feel bored, as thats what I felt during this film, and Peter Pan shouldn’t make you feel bored.