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Pan Movie

Platform(s): Movie
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Release Date: Oct. 9, 2015

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Movie Review - 'Pan'

by Adam Pavlacka on Oct. 9, 2015 @ 3:00 a.m. PDT

Twelve-year-old orphan Peter is spirited away to Neverland, where he finds fun and danger and discovers that his destiny is to become Peter Pan.

When it comes to classic fairy tales, there are always plenty of interpretations. The story of Peter Pan has been retold countless times, though the 1953 Disney cartoon is probably the most well-known adaptation. Steven Spielberg explored what happened if Peter grew up in 1991's "Hook", and now director Joe Wright is taking a stab at how Peter came to be at home in Neverland with this week's release of "Pan."

Telling the origin story of the boy who never grew up is an interesting take, as it establishes a definite "start" to Peter's life, showing us what he was like before he learned to fly. The first act of the film highlights Peter's life as an orphan during the London Blitz. In look and feel, it evokes prior attempts at putting Peter Pan to film, with the London orphanage sets using a lot of dark and muted colors. The first contrast to this happens when the pirates arrive to kidnap the children. Incidentally, this is also where the story seems to start. Most of what's shown up to that point is filler.


Peter's arrival in Neverland is heralded by a wonderfully anachronistic chanting cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." The presentation is both ostentatious and appropriate, given the situation and the lyrics of the song. It also gives Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) a great opportunity to mug for the camera with flair and flamboyance. If nothing else, seeing Pan at some point is worth it just for this.

The real reason Blackbeard wants all of the world's children working in his mines is glossed over in the film (there is one scene that lasts all of two minutes, and it pops up out of nowhere), which makes you wonder how much of the original script was lost in the editing process. Rough moments like that come up a handful of times during the course of the film. Certain bits go into extreme details, while other seemingly important areas are quickly glossed over. If "Pan" had better pacing, the film would have been stronger for it.

Where "Pan" does excel is in its world design. While it may not offer up the best alternative Peter Pan story, it provides more than enough to keep things moving forward. Basically, the story is there as an excuse to show off the wonderful sets and intricate costume design. The main pirate dock looks as though it could have been pulled right out of Bioshock Infinite, while the tribal sets have the vibrant colors of HDR photography. "Pan" is a very visual film, and if you're an art student, you'll love it.


Garrett Hedlund puts in an excellent performance as James Hook. Part Han Solo, part James Dean, Hook steals every scene he's in thanks to Hedlund's unbridled enthusiasm for the role. There's just enough ambiguity in his performance that you're never quite sure what is meant to be authentic and what's just a line, but then again, that's exactly the type of character this Hook is supposed to be. As he tells Peter in the film, adults sometimes lie. The trick is figuring out when they're doing so.

Also of note is Adeel Akhtar in a supporting role as Mr. Smee. Hook's (future) right-hand man serves as comic relief at points, though he is also instrumental in driving forward the story. Like Hedlund, Akhtar throws himself completely into the role. When you're walking home after the film, Hook and Smee are the two characters that you'll remember.

On the flip side, Rooney Mara's performance as Tiger Lily falls completely flat. She seems to simply be going through the motions during the film and lacks any sort of physicality that Tiger Lily is supposed to possess. Perhaps it is the fault of the director, perhaps Mara was preoccupied with the controversy surrounding her casting as a Native American, but either way, she is just there. Like the overall film, Mara's Tiger Lily is pretty to look at, but there isn't a whole lot of depth.


Speaking of the visuals, do not bother seeing Pan in 3-D. The 3-D conversion used here darkens the film greatly, and the presentation suffers for it, especially in the nighttime scenes. Save the upcharge, and see Pan in 2-D. It'll be a better experience.

Looking back on the film, "Pan" is at its best when it is over-the-top and bombastic. Those moments, when neither the actors nor the director are holding back, bring forth childlike wonderment. It's when the film gets bogged down by its meandering story and focus on the "chosen one" story trope that it stumbles. If anything, watching "Pan" made me wonder what Baz Luhrmann could have done with the property.

Score: 6.6/10

"Pan" is rated PG and has a running time of 1 hour and 51 minutes. It is showing in 2-D and 3-D.



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