Ugh. So considering the abysmal critical and commercial flop Pan was when it faceplanted in cinemas last year, I had little to no interest in seeing it. But lo and behold, my younger siblings had no such issues and so I was stuck (in a 7 hour car trip) sitting through this cliché-ridden, bad CGI-fest of a film. If you haven’t figured it out by now, its not good.
Pan (2015) is directed by Joe Wright and stars Levi Miller as Peter Pan before he was Peter Pan. Yep, this is another unnecessary origin story for a beloved character in the same vein as X-men Origins and Maleficent. And in that company, its hard to not be surprised at the dullness that transpires here. This plot often feels like a check-list for clichés: A mystical prophecy? Check. A reluctant chosen one with a mysterious past? Double check. A secret kingdom? Triple check. Honestly, there is so little in Pan that’s actually original that its possible its script was composed from a ‘Best of Fantasy’ list rather than an actual screenwriter. On top of that, the script has the pirates singing Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. Why?! That song shouldn’t exist for another 50 years! It just reeks of pandering to a specific audience, and is pretty indicative of the quality at show here.
The main cast doesn’t do particularly well with the screenplay they’re given. While I’d give Levi Miller’s stilted delivery a bit of a pass thanks to the script, he’s still bland and one-note through most of the film. He doesn’t sell the supposed ‘epicness’ the movie is striving for, and in front of an (obvious) green screen, he’s barely convincing. Garrett Hedlund is also barely passable as Hook. He does show more charisma here than he normally does (not much of a compliment really), but he puts on this ridiculously annoying american accent for no apparent reason. Its as if he’s forgotten Hook is supposed to be a Pirate, and instead has gone with a bloody cowboy persona. The only passable actor in the film is Hugh Jackman. He is by far the biggest name in the cast, and at least gets some enjoyment from how hammy he plays the villain Blackbeard. I wouldn’t call it a good performance, but it is a partly enjoyable one. Partly.
The direction of the film and the CGI is just as bland and poor as its script. Like many similar horrid prequels, Pan goes for a darker and more serious approach. Bad idea. Really bad idea. Its completely in conflict with what Neverland and the original story is supposed to represent – joy, freedom and imagination. It just leaves the film feeling unpleasant and without any of the wonder present in other Peter Pan movies. Speaking of wonder, there is practically nothing here. I will admit there are some interesting visuals regarding dream sequences and pirate ships, but for the most part the CGI is dull, bad and unoriginal. It would fit better in a 2005 PS2 game better than a 2015 blockbuster. On top of the already bad cast and script, that makes Pan a painful experience for anyone who recognises a good movie.
Pan is bad. I didn’t want to watch it prior, and I never want to watch it again. Its soulless, unnecessary and cliché. Sure its visuals may lightly entertain kids for a couple of hours, but for everyone else, don’t bother.
General Audiences: Not Recommended
Film Buffs: Burn it