Today I’m talking a look at the box office bomb, Pan,a re-imagining of Never Land before Captain James Hook came to power. Pan was directed by Joe Wright, the same director we can thank for the earthy and atmospheric Pride and Prejudice (2005) and the sumptuously gorgeous Anna Karenina (2012).
Pan stars Hugh Jackman (Blackbeard), Garrett Hedlund (Hook), Rooney Mara (Tiger Lily) and Levi Miller as 12-year-old Peter Pan.
It’s WWII in London and Peter is twelve years old, having been abandoned at an orphanage as a newborn. You have some lovely, almost Dickensian imagery of life in an orphanage and Peter and his friend getting into mischief, and then they introduce the pirates and the WWII tale turns into something extraordinary… or does it?
For me, this film was doing just fine, hitting all the right notes until they introduced Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard. This film was not marketed as a musical so the last thing I expected was thousands of pirates and slaves, twenty minutes into the film, to break out into Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Having broken that taboo, thereafter whenever the pirates get together, there’s a song. Perfect.
Let me be the first to say that I adore movie musicals. I have a mini-collection of them at home. But this isn’t a true musical, the only time there’s any kind of song is with the pirates. Maybe it wouldn’t be so offensive if it was a period-appropriate pirate-y song, but it just comes straight out of left field. Did a pirate travel in time? How were they introduced to Nirvana’s music? Why them and not someone else? Do you see how many questions this is raising? It literally threw me out of the movie and we’re two minutes into Neverland territory.
Getting over that hump, let’s address some of the positives: beautiful imagery and interesting CGI work (not surprising from Joe Wright), some magical violence (spoiler: dying by puffs of smoke vs. blood/gore), and the hopelessly sad ending that begs a sequel which will never be released.
I like the re-working on the idea of why the Lost Boys are in Neverland to begin with which is somewhat reminiscent of Pleasure Island from Pinocchio, but there is still no explanation of what brought the pirates to Neverland in the first place. There’s also this annoying “Chosen One” story thread that is obnoxiously overused in movies (Harry Potter, anyone?) but I digress.
If you’re a fan of the Peter Pan mythos, you might want to give this a shot for the heck of it. If you’re looking for a mediocre children’s film, this might fit the bill. If you’re wanting a children’s movie that’s actually entertaining, there’s plenty of other films out there. Go find one.
Pan is rated PG for Fantasy action violence, language and some thematic material, with a running time of 111 minutes.