Movie Review: “Pan”
Following in the live-action footsteps of Disney’s “Maleficent,” director Joe Wright’s latest film “Pan” is an original prequel to J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan.”
“Pan” tells the story of an orphan named Peter, played by Levi Miller, and his transformation into the beloved hero of the mystical realm of Neverland.
After spending his childhood trapped in a somber London orphanage, 12-year-old Peter dreams of escaping from his dull life and uncovering the secrets of his past. He soon finds himself swept up in an adventure and visits Neverland. With the help of a few familiar characters from the classic fairy tale, Peter must battle the pirate Blackbeard, played by Hugh Jackman (“X-Men”), and save Neverland’s magical creatures from destruction.
Along the way, Peter learns the truth of his upbringing and discovers his destiny in Neverland. The film examines the power of believing in oneself, and this message shines throughout.
“Pan” brings together elements of fantasy, action and comedy, allowing people of all ages to lose themselves in the story. As with many cartoon to live-action films, the majority of the objects and backdrops are obvious computer animations. However, “Pan” still appears realistic enough to immerse young audiences. The 3D aspects of the film consist of debris and objects flying at the screen, which is not distracting but does not add to the experience. “Pan” does not focus on character development, nor storytelling. Instead, it sacrifices these vital elements for childish action and fantasy.
Wright breaks away from his standard period dramas like “Atonement” and “Pride and Prejudice” with this family tale, while still maintaining some of his signature scenic shots. The music score is enchanting and even adds comedy to the film at times. Upon arriving on the island of Neverland, Peter is greeted with a rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which draws a few laughs, despite being awkwardly placed in a World War II-era film.
Besides Jackman, the film’s cast of notable actors includes Rooney Mara (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) as the warrior princess Tiger Lily and Cara Delevingne (“Paper Towns”) as a mermaid. Jackman’s performance is entertaining but does not stand out when compared to other fairytale villains. Newcomer Levi Miller shines as Peter, bringing just the right amount of wit and mischievity to the role. Garrett Hedlund’s (“Unbroken”) portrayal of James Hook delivers the strongest acting as he brings surprising charm to an infamous character. The relationship between Peter and Hook stands out in the film as it develops into a brother-like bond, in contrast to the duo’s later dynamic in “Peter Pan.”
Overall, Wright creates a fast-paced and imaginative film that fans young and old will enjoy. Those who grew up watching and reading “Peter Pan” will relish the backstory and its references to the classic film they know and love, while children will enjoy experiencing Neverland for the first time. However, the film fails to appeal to audiences not already interested in the story, with lackluster special effects and action scenes, along with little character development. Despite its flaws, “Pan” is the perfect film for anyone wishing to escape to a land of pirates, mermaids and fairies and feel the innocence of childhood again.