Pan (2015)

pan_2015_poster
Pan (2015)
  • Time: 111 min
  • Genre: Adventure | Family | Fantasy
  • Director: Joe Wright
  • Cast: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara, Amanda Seyfried

Storyline:

12-year-old orphan Peter is spirited away to the magical world of Neverland, where he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny — to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.

5 reviews

  • Pan is a fantasy-adventure film that serves actually as a prequel to the original Peter Pan story. Sure, Peter doesn’t “believe in bedtime stories,” but someone in Pan’s production must have forgotten to put a lot of the magic and wonder in the story.

    The legend goes that a young boy would return to the land of Neverland to defend the fairies from Blackbeard, as well as have the ability to fly. When Blackbeard throws him off to his death after supposedly stealing, he flies to escape death, but is unfortunately unable to do so again. With the legend catching up to him, Blackbeard takes it upon himself to lock Peter up. Once he escapes however and learns about the possibility of his mother’s existence and him being the legend, he sets out to find his mother.

    Joe Wright, who directed Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, and Anna Karenina, doesn’t seem out of his element, with the visuals alluring us closer and closer to his interpretation of Neverland. The land of the natives of Neverland, and the action scenes, in particular the final third of the act, are eye catching. However, there are moments where it looks visually striking, yet does a little bit too much, being distractive at times.

    For the actors here, albeit their talents being unquestionable, the actors in the film are unable to deliver what Wright was attempting to do with this prequel.

    Who is the most odd is Hook, who is portrayed as though he were Indiana Jones stuck in an episode of a spaghetti western, only to be brought back into a kids movie and play a lucky fool whose company you tolerate, but not enjoy nearly as much as the original Indi.

    Seeing Hugh Jackman in a pirate costume here begins as ridiculous, as Hugh Jackman suffers at first from the Jack Sparrow effect, which is that any man that plays a pirate looks and sounds like a bumbling idiot buffoon. He does lose his menacing tone, with moments of weakness and immaturity with the henchmen that surround him.

    The chemistry between Tiger Lily and Hook is something we are forced to watch during the non action scenes, but watching Hook slowly become a hero himself to win over Tiger Lily (not to mention the light, yet bold flirting between the two) is engaging enough to keep anyone settled in their seats.

    The action just seemed too dragged out in order to make up for the slow pacing in the first half of the film. The musical score will keep your feet thumping, helping anyone get through the first couple of acts and into the second half of the movie. But with the second half asked to do too much, the movie ends as a good watch for the entire family, but let’s face it, seeing a musical or a Radio City Hall version of Pan during the upcoming holidays will be a better choice.

  • Never has a spectacle been less spectacular and more hollow than Joe Wright’s Pan. The film purports to chart the origin story of Peter Pan and, by association, that of Captain James Hook. Yet the trajectories of Peter from wartime orphan to augured messiah and Hook from gruff wisecracker to vengeful villain are mere blueprints that never fully develop due to the relentless bombast in which they’re encased.

    It is worth remembering two things about Wright. he discovered Saoirse Ronan who, at the age of 13, made a remarkable, Oscar-nominated debut in Atonement. Levi Miller, who plays Pan, is a notable find. The Australian easily conveys the sense of mischief that is an integral part of the character’s DNA as well as the sadness that undergirds his determination.

    Wright is also heavily influenced by British director David Lean, a man known for the sweeping yet intimate gesture. Up until now, Wright has been able to execute that gesture with a confident hand. One sees it in the unfustiness of his period romances Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, the fractured fairy tale that was Hanna, and even in the the theatrical trappings of his Anna Karenina. Like Baz Luhrmann, Wright is a showman – perhaps a slightly less imaginative and unbound one, but a showman nonetheless.

    Pan possesses a multitude of problems, starting with a fundamentally unsound premise that is dressed up to such a degree that the flaws are all too readily apparent. Do we really need to know how friends became enemies? Are we truly rooting for Peter to embrace his destiny as Pan? These are obvious arcs whose explorations are limited, and neither Wright nor screenwriter Jason Fuchs find new angles to unearth.

    Wright obviously tips his hat to visual effects visionary Ray Harryhausen, not only in the two extended stop-motion animation sequences but also in the design of the birds that populate Neverland. Yet the overall effect is rough and unfinished – one feels as if the wires are visible, the seams too transparent, the back projection pronounced. For a film that spends very little time on the ground – the camera is restlessly and relentlessly swooping from one vertiginous shot to another – there is little sense of awe and wonder. All magic has been drained from a film that should be predominantly about magic, whether it be that of flying or the magical powers of self-belief.

    The art direction is a mishmash of other films – a little Pirates of the Caribbean here, a little of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude there. That extends to the characterisations as well – Peter comes off as a hybrid of Oliver Twist and Harry Potter whilst Hook is obviously modeled after Indiana Jones. As Hook, Garrett Hedlund…what is he even doing and why did Wright not tell him to stop? Hedlund seems to be channeling John Wayne, Indiana Jones, The Big Lebowski’s Dude if he were fresh out of rehab, and Jack Sparrow. It is distracting to no end and frequently cringe-inducing. Let’s not even dwell on his vocal intonation which is all asthmatic Pacino. Rooney Mara, whose casting as Tiger Lily was the source of much controversy, smiles. It’s a wonderful, dimpled smile and one that should be seen more often on-screen. There’s not much for her to do as Tiger Lily except overcome a cumbersome headdress and some arts and crafts costuming. She does, but she is woefully wasted.

    The sole saving grace is Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard, the pirate leader of Neverland who kidnaps orphans and puts them to work mining the pixie dust that keeps him forever young. This is a man whose story is most worth telling – charismatic, formidable, intelligent, brutal, with a love that turns to poison. The best moment of the film is its quietest. After the discovery that Peter can fly, Blackbeard brings the boy to his quarters. Even before the reveal of the prophesy that a half-fairy, half-human child will be his downfall, Jackman’s eyes as he gazes upon Peter conveys the sorrow, vulnerability and even respect of a man who has come face to face with his fate.

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  • Jason Fuchs has fantasized a back story for the character Peter Pan that doesn’t reflect any of the back story originally written by the creator of Peter Pan, J. M. Berry. For those who want to know what the real back story is find copies of the novels The Little White Bird and Peter And Wendy. Rather than setting the story in its proper time, early 20th century London, Fuchs has decided to set it during the Blitz in World War II. Don’t worry about that because as soon as they leave London they’re back in Victorian times and no other reference is made to the 1940s. I find this rather odd that Blackbeard, yes, the pirate Blackbeard is the bad guy and he wants to wipe out everyone on the island. He hasn’t, however, obtained any of the advanced weaponry that is being shot at him when he flies his ship into London to buy orphaned boys to work in his fairy dust mine. He uses the fairy dust to keep himself young but it wears off so he has to have a lot to keep himself looking good. There are a dozen or so four masted ships with no explanation were they came from but they all fly and no one bothers to explain that one either.
    Peter is an orphan in an orphanage run by very mean nuns that looks like it’s out of Charles Dickens’s Oliver. You can’t help but think of time travel although there is none. The only reference to Kensington Gardens is when Peter’s mother runs by a gate on her way to say good-bye to her son who is waiting, again with no explanation, at the front door of the orphanage. This Peter spends his time longing for his mother even though he doesn’t know her. (SPOILER ALERT-The fact that Peter’s father is a fairy prince and his mother, a human, who is fighting Blackbeard with the fairies, doesn’t seem to make a difference to this creative team even though it completely defeats the prime story which happens later.) This would seem to be enough story to build some suspense but since we know the main characters are around later there is none.
    Director Joe Wright just seems to play along with all the confusion and inappropriate changes. I have no idea why all this was done. I willing to bet the original story was considered to dull so they dressed it up. Now, unfortunately, it looks like a clown, quite often literally.
    Hugh Jackman plays Blackbeard and does a fine job. He is mean and obsessive and on the edge of losing control. Jackman by-passes the character’s inappropriateness to the story and plays it full out. His costume, however, is all frills and lace and not the least bit correct for his character. Levi Miller plays Peter and he also does a very good job even though his character doesn’t reflect the real Peter Pan. You can root for him to win and he earns it. Same goes for Rooney Mara’s Tiger Lilly. She is fierce and doesn’t take anything from anybody.
    Hook, played by Garrett Hedlund is so changed that there’s nothing of the pirate left. In point of fact, he isn’t a pirate at all. Hedlund plays him with great charm and bravado but he is Peter’s friend and we are only given ironic comments about the future. Adeel Akhtar plays Smee and even this character isn’t allowed to be himself but Akhtar plays him well. Amanda Seyfried play Mary, Peter’s mother, and defeats the point of the future story with Wendy but she plays what she’s been given well.
    I give this movie 1 flying ship out of 4. I give it this not because of the performances but because of the horrid way this movie simply ignored almost everything J. M. Barrie had written. If the character’s names had been different, if it was just a nameless island, there might have been some suspense. As it is, except for some very good performances, the plot was boring and easily guessed.

  • (Rating: ☆☆ out of 4)

    This film is not recommended.

    In brief: In need of fairy dust

    GRADE: C
     
    Most critics panned Pan and I would readily agree that the film is loud, dull, and uninspired. This new reboot is just plain dumb and tries to align itself with the beloved characters created by J. M. Barrie as its safety net. Others have used this sacred cow to better effect in the past , and will, undoubtedly, continue to take advantage of the Peter Pan love-fest in the future.

    In this film, the main problem is the half-baked screenplay by Jason Fuchs. The woeful script is bereft of imagination, never succeeding in re-imagining its Neverland inhabitants from its far superior book source. Characters are poorly written and defy logic, if not gravity. But, at least, Pan is visually striking and is a feast for the eyes, if not the mind.

    This prequel introduces Peter, Hook, Tiger Lily, and newly added to the lore, Blackbeard the Pirate, into the plot. This Pan starts in WWII London with plump evil nuns running a Miss Hannigan-like orphanage and little Peter (winningly played by Levi Miller) acting all Oliver Twist for a while, until he is finally whisked off to Neverland to do battle with, not Captain Hook, but Blackbeard (a miscast Hugh Jackman) who is high on fairy-dust, an age suppressing drug. That’s a lot to say in one sentence, but Pan has a lot of plot to cover while it plays with the story as we know it. In fact, Hook (an overacting Garrett Hedlund, acting like a goofy frat-boy type) is not a villain at all. Instead, he’s a bit of a rogue hero in this version, channeling Han Solo bravado into his character. Are you still with me?

    Along the way, we meet Tiger Lily (a fine Rooney Mara) and her politically correct tribe, Smee, dubbed here as Sam Smiegel (a god awful Adeel Akhtar, playing his part like a demented Ricky Gervais), a very large CGI crocodile, glowing mermaids, and Tinkerbell herself. Oh, I forgot to mention a mining town reminiscent of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and lost boys anachronistically singing Nirvana’s Feels Like Teen Spirit too. Yes, really!

    It is a big mess of a movie, handsomely choreographed by Joe Wright, who should have never green-lit this project. But the director still has a good eye for gorgeous design elements and surreal moments. He wisely assembled a group of talented artisans who deliver strong production values. Costumes by Jacqueline Durran are sumptuous and highly-detailed, Dominic Capon’s massive set designs are stunningly over-saturated with wonderful fuchsias and deep blue tones, and John Mathieson and Seamus McGarvey team up to create fluid aerial photography that has magical images that include ships that sail through the clouds and a boy that can effortlessly fly. Too bad all of their hard work in a film like this sinks from an excess of action overkill and little narrative sense.

    Pan fails on most counts. It is a noble failure that gets lost looking for that second star to the left, thanks mainly to an inept screenplay that lets everyone down. Wright ends up looking like a lost boy in need of a better map. With all its excess and glitz, the film just never lands.

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  • “Have you come to kill me, Peter? I don’t believe in bedtime stories.”

    Occasionally I don’t mind watching a film adaptation of a fairy tale. I liked the movie “Hook” with Robin Williams in the role of an adult Peter Pan who forgot what it was like in his childhood, a lot. An original alternative to the classic tale of Peter Pan, the boy who never wants to grow up and has exciting adventures on the island of Neverland. “Pan” approaches the story of Peter in a different perspective. It’s more about the pre-Peter Pan era where we see him at first as a newborn little baby, abandoned at an orphanage, guided by a gang of nuns who clearly skipped the chapters about charity and compassion in the Bible. The orphanage looks more like a concentration camp where all those little fellows have to live by strict rules and are treated like slaves. The comparison with “Oliver Twist” is inevitable. And to be honest this was the most magical part of the whole movie for me. What follows is a rather bombastic and chaotic story.

    As soon as Peter (Levi Miller) is lifted out of his bed, by some pirates hanging on elastics, and he’s being hoisted aboard a pirate ship sailing through the air, the film turns into a higher gear. Admittedly, the scene with that ship floating through the air and being chased by fighter planes, looked absolutely stunning. And the unrecognizable Hugh Jackman as Captain Blackbeard is magnificent. A magisterial role and probably the most eccentric character that Jackman has ever played. But unfortunately, the special effects and computer-animated images are so dominant during the film.The magic of the original story gradually disappears and is being replaced by what the current magicians in the special effects department can make up nowadays.

    At one point, I looked totally flabbergasted at the screen. Not because of the stunning images and swirling action scenes, but because a crowd of pirates and kidnapped children loudly sang “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from Nirvana. I didn’t recognize it immediately. But then I couldn’t believe my ears. I never thought that this masterpiece would be used in a fairy tale. And why the hell this song? Was it because”Nevermind” sounds like “Neverland”? Or because Cobain is seen as someone who never wanted to grow up either? I thought and still think it’s a bizarre choice of music and I’m sure Cobain will turn over in his grave after hearing the news that one of his songs was used in a fairytale movie. In my view inappropriate and irrelevant.

    And you can expect a hodgepodge of mixed rarities. An Indiana Jones kind of inmate called Hook (Garrett Hedlund), who of course in a later stage will be the archenemy of Peter, and some beautiful mermaids. And lets not forget the fearsome crocodile. And a native village with residents turning into colorful clouds as soon as they are killed. Also impressive images of ports floating in the air and pirate boats sailing in the air through water bubbles (made me think of a Dali artwork). There’s even a moment with Peter Pan orbiting Saturn. So fairly abstract and bizarre at times. But it wasn’t real magic. Peter showing of his flying skills is rather limited. Tinkerbell has only a small part in the complete movie. The only thing remaining is a lot of stunt work full of chases and skirmishes.

    It’s a bit exaggerated. What remains are the excellent performances of Miller and especially Jackman. Not to mention the rather funny contribution by Sam Smiegel (Adeel Akhtar). But despite the superb acting and the successful decors, the end result is still weak. I’m sure there are already plans for a sequel. Something I’m not enthusiastically waiting for. Hello, hello, hello, how low. Oh well, whatever, never mind.

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