Hot Take: Pan is nearly 2 hours of your life you’ll never get back. Not that we needed a Pan origin story but, then again, this was more of an origin story masquerade. This fantasy is a nightmare.
Pan‘s cast (especially Hugh Jackman) sure looked like they had a great time. The writer and director took seriously wacky liberties and a jolly good time with the subject matter. Too bad the audience wasn’t allowed to be in on the fun.
(Usually there’s the avoidance of spoilers but this one isn’t worth preserving…)
Consider the choices for the back story to J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan. There was an 1800s-style Dickensian orphanage ripped from the pages of Oliver Twist conveniently placed during World War I transported to Neverland when Peter (Levi Miller) is grabbed with a number of other orphans by real life 1700s pirate Blackbeard (Jackman). In Neverland, the children of Neverland (and Blackbeard) go Baz Luhrman with two musical numbers — covers of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” — from the 1970s and 1990s.
Some will write off director Joe Wright’s choices as wacky or imaginative but putting all of those choices together come across as nonsense. This is especially the case since these choices dissolve into a prolonged movie chase with all the typical abuses of 3D technology present in your below average fantasy/adventure. At $150 million, Pan has the possibility of being one of the biggest box office disasters of 2015.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Music
While the ensemble performances are misplaced, it doesn’t make them any less entertaining. This is pure campiness begging for a Rifftrax panning (pun completely intended) in the near future. The rest of the score is very fitting.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The Whitewashing of Tiger Lily
Nothing wrong with Rooney Mara (she’s actually almost enjoyable in Pan which is saying a lot) except Tiger Lily is usually a Native American. With all of the terrible stereotypes of Native Americans in the animated Disney version, the least Wright could have done is cast someone of Native American ancestry to play the role. Then again, earlier this year, Emma Stone was cast as a half Asian woman in Aloha.
- The (Lack of a) Back Story
Peter was an orphan. There’s more explanation but it’s basically not much deeper than that. James Hook is present and accounted for but there’s absolutely no allusion to his future except an inside joke or two.
- Holy Crap, It’s Long!
There’s a chance Pan will appeal to younger kids but at 9 minutes short of 2 hours, I’d hate to see a packed young audience squirming in their seat after the first hour… but there’s a pretty good chance we won’t have to worry about packed audiences.