Let’s pretend you hate strawberries. Now let’s pretend someone takes a bunch of strawberries and makes them look all fancy with chocolate, and some fancy sauce, and makes the strawberries look unrecognizable. You see this fancy treat and you get excited like, “Oh, that looks good.” And then you take a bite and realize it is a strawberry, becoming immediately disappointed because you hate it. You put the strawberry down and look at the others and think, “Well, they do look pretty.”
This is how I felt watching Joe Wright’s “Pan”. The film is visually outstanding, with some great CGI and bright colors, but at it’s core, it is pretty disappointing and stupid.
“Pan” tells the origin story of the legendary Peter Pan. Peter (Levi Miller) is an orphan in World War II London, who one night, along with a number of other orphans, gets taken by a group of pirates riding in a flying ship. They take off to Neverland, which is ran by the menacing Black Beard (Hugh Jackman). In a freak accident, Peter learns that he can somehow fly, and escapes the clutches of Black Beard with James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) into a magical forrest where they are captured by the natives of the land, led by Tiger Lilly (Rooney Mara). They are almost executed until the natives realize that Peter is their island’s prophet, or Pan as they call it. Peter now must become the prophet that he is suppose to be and learn to fly while also defending the natives and the forrest from Black Beard and his gang of pirates as they invade the forrest.
Like I said at the beginning, the movie is very pretty to look at. The 3D is done well and really adds some some pop to the movie. The movie is incredibly bright, like a rainbow threw up all over the screen. There are some cool scenes, like the vision on the Tree of Memories, that actually had me say, “Wow.” out loud. Wright has always been a very visual director, so this isn’t a surprise at all.
However, the visuals don’t save this movie. The story is awful. Setting it in World War II was unnecessary and kind of pointless, as it didn’t tie in at all with the movie. They made Peter a Jesus-like character, which ruins the whole reason we loved Peter Pan in the first. He was just a kid like us running Neverland and now he’s Neverland’s Jesus? Ruins the whole coolness of his normality. And, the movie essentially rips off “Hook” (1991) in having the major plot point be that Peter has to learn how to fly, much like that of Robin Williams’ interpretation of Pan. They also keep Peter and Hook’s friendship a friendship. There was no inclination of any sort of potential future enemies and Hook even kept his hand. Also, apparently in Neverland, they use classic rock anthems like Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and The Ramones’ ‘Hey! Oh! Let’s Go!’ as chants for when Black Beard is about to give a grand speech. How in the world this makes sense is beyond me, but it is awfully stupid.
The white-washed cast of talented actors are wasted. Newcomer Levi Miller does his best and is good when he is being a wise-ass, but struggles during the dramatic moments. Rooney Mara does her best impression of a block of wood, showing barely any emotion and not even trying. I had a fun watching Hedlund as Hook attempting to do some sort of dimwitted American, though I have no idea what accent or impression he was trying to do. And Hugh Jackman should get an award for Hammiest Performance of 2015. His Black Beard is so over the top and ridiculous, you kind of just laugh at him. It’s basically Al Pacino in “The Devil’s Advocate”, but for children.
“Pan” is a mess. A terrible story and bad acting can’t be hidden by bright colors and cool visuals. This is disappointing because Joe Wright is a talented director and pretty unknown. I was hoping this would make him more of a household name and get him bigger gigs. My hopes were crushed. “Pan” is one of the most disappointing movies of 2015.
MY RATING – 1.5/4
Image courtesy of YouTube via Warner Brothers.