Me before Pan: “Okay, Lord, I’m going to keep an open mind. Maybe Pan will be an offbeat fairy tale that I end up liking.”
Me during Pan: “WHAT THE FRICK AM I LOOKING AT?!”
This is my review of Pan…(irritable sigh)
Pan is the prequel to J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan. In this version, Peter (Levi Miller) starts out as a little boy living in an orphanage who gets snatched away by pirates and ends up in Neverland, where he must go up against Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) after it is discovered that Peter can fly because–chosen one–and from there, Peter teams up with James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) to discover his true destiny as the flying boy who will save the Natives and the fairies from the tyrannical Blackbeard and the pirates.
I just took an Advil because this movie gave me a migraine. I am legitimately ticked off because the trailer for this movie looked so enchanting. Sadly, the final product is anything but magical. This movie has no idea what it wants to be. It is so tone-deaf that I was never sure when I was supposed to take a scene seriously.
Alas, let’s just get through the very few Hits before I commence into Super Saiyan rant-mode.
By the way, ten brownie points are yours if you know what a “Super Saiyan” is.
To be fair, there is a good story somewhere in this bloated mess of a film. The world creation is certainly not lacking in imagination. The locations are gorgeous to look at and I really wish that the movie had taken the time to give Neverland its own identity outside of being a pretty generic CGI backdrop.
The idea of establishing Peter Pan and Captain Hook as friends is interesting, and the banter between them did get a few chuckles out of me.
I do like the concept of Peter being the son of a fairy prince and a human woman, and that Tiger Lily has a connection with Peter’s mother. Also kudos to the screenwriter for making Peter’s mother a pro-fairy warrior. Deceased mother characters shouldn’t just be dead nice ladies.
The only scenes that had me invested were the scenes between Peter and Blackbeard. Levi Miller and Hugh Jackman do have a believable dynamic as enemies. I always appreciate when a hero and a villain are in the same room, conversing with each other.
Levi Miller is the only person who I sympathetized with. He seems to understand his role and does his very best to be the grounded force of his strange surroundings. I do hope that he gets more work and ends up in better movies because there is a lot of promise with him.
It is always tragic when incompentent direction buries a potentionally engaging story.
All right, the gloves are coming off. Let’s go.
(Commencing rant mode) This should have been called “Indecision: The Movie.” It is painfully obvious that director Joe Wright was second guessing every single story decision he made during production. Except for Levi Miller, the adult actors are evidence of this.
It’s never a good sign when you can tell that an actor is confused about who they’re supposed to be throughout the film. I think Mr. Wright first told Hugh Jackman to be menancing, but then right before the camera rolled, he said, “On second thought, Mr. Jackman, Blackbeard should be a comedic villain. Yeah, that’s it.” But THEN Mr. Wright changed his mind again and told Jackman to be a scary dude. As a result, Hugh Jackman’s Blackbeard switches back and forth from quirky villain to menancing foe every five minutes. Actually, now that I think about it, Jackman’s performance is inconsistent; he overacts in some scenes and underacts in others.
The secret to writing an offbeat villain is to write he/she as either a scary person who can be funny or as a charming individual with a twisted personality. Attempting to be both sucks away the tension between the villain and the protagonist. If I’m not afraid of the villain, why should I care about the hero?
The second victim of Joe Wright’s indecision is Garrett Hedlund. It’s like Mr. Wright couldn’t decide if he wanted James Hook to be a ripoff of Indiana Jones or Hans Solo, so he just said to Hedlund, “Just be both and talk through your teeth a lot because–potatoes!” The character of James Hook feels so unnatural to the story because he bulges his eyes out, widens his facial expressions and talks through his teeth. It gets to the point where he is so unrealistic that his appearance in any scene feels shoehorned. His “romance” with Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) is painful to watch because Hedlund and Mara have zero chemistry.
The action sequences are horrendously edited. Thanks to a frickton of jumpcuts, I could barely follow what was going on or who was fighting who. The CGI mermaids and the Neverbirds look embarrassingly fake. The musical score plays during the wrong sequences. I rarely say this, but this is the pinnacle of style over substance.
Finally, if you’re a fan of Saint Catherine Laboure or just the religious life in general (or both), you will be ticked at this movie because the nuns who run Peter’s orphanage are Catherine Laboure nuns with no personalities other than being offensive caricatures. I know that they are Catherine Laboure nuns because of the habits they wear.
This is Catherine, by the way.
It just so happens that Catherine Laboure is my favorite out of all the Saint Catherines, so I was already annoyed within the first five minutes of the movie. Even secular movie critics don’t like the portrayal of the nuns in this flick!
Whenever I’m writing a story or revising an essay before the due date, I’ll run it by my Mother to get a second opinion. If I propose a last minute change that doesn’t make sense or second guess a key element of my writing project, my Mom will set me straight and advise me to stick with and improve the ideas that are already in place.
Pan is the best example of why film directors should have their mothers on set. The tone is inconsistent, the actors are confused about who they’re supposed to be, and the visuals overtake character growth and interaction.
Saint Catherine Laboure, you deserve much better treatment. Also, pray for us.