Movie Review: Pan

Pan pans out as an ill-conceived, unnecessary and overproduced joyless adventure with its hackneyed plot, overblown CGI-fueled action, and forgettable characters that doesn’t revive a story that already’s been remade twice.

Peter (Levi Miller) is a mischievous 12-year-old boy with an irrepressible rebellious streak, but in the bleak London orphanage where he has lived his whole life those qualities do not exactly fly. Then one incredible night, Peter is whisked away from the orphanage and spirited off to a fantastical world of pirates, warriors and fairies called Neverland. There, he finds amazing adventures and fights life-or-death battles while trying to uncover the secret of his mother, who left him at the orphanage so long ago, and his rightful place in this magical land. Teamed with the warrior Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and a new friend named James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), Peter must defeat the ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) to save Neverland and discover his true destiny—to become the hero who will forever be known as Peter Pan

Riding the success of Hanna, Jason Fuchs is tasked to deliver another origins story of an extraordinary kid. The director was able to create a strange yet fascinating story about a child soldier by adding fairy tale elements. His treatment for Pan however, didn’t exactly pan out as intended.

Pan has some redeeming qualities as a well funded blockbuster film. It has a flamboyant flair thanks to the costume design. It offers unique moments with a trampoline fight and a stop motion animated flashback.

Unfortunately, these qualities are minuscule compared to the movie’s heavy-handed approach to an origins story based on a source material that is supposed to be about childlike wonder and arrested innocence.

The script uses child labor and war as a trigger in the most generic hero narrative. After getting kidnapped from a dreary existence, Peter is thrown into a crater sized mining operation used for the sole benefit of one man. Soon enough his rebellious streak lands him in trouble, resulting into a gravity defying moment that reveals a prophecy about The Chosen One.

The hackneyed plot is filled with overblown CGI-fueled action. Held back by the narrative, the characters don’t get any fun (unless you count that one rip-off of the Avatar). Peter and Hook doesn’t have any memorable scenes together. The future pirate flirts with a native princess but this budding romance goes nowhere. They’re all stuck in an unmemorable Neverland with steampunk tech and grunge music, which doesn’t make any sense in its world.

The cast ends up with one dimensional roles because of a rushed plot. Levi Miller is inspired casting, but he’s turned into a plot device. Garrett Hedlund is an Indiana Jones caricature who took a cue from Johnny Depp, as the future pirate makes his own affectation by speaking through gritted teeth with a tilted head. The tribe is ethnically diverse, but the native who gets the most screen time is portrayed by a Caucasian – the miscast Rooney Mara who is more fit for brainy roles than feisty ones. Hugh Jackman overdoes it, but manages to add another dimension into a caricature villain.

Jackman must have taken the cue from the movie because Pan over does everything, as evidenced by an overcrowded boss battle in the climax leading to a neatly wrapped up ending.

Predictably, Pan is the prequel that no one asked for but is made anyway because of the fandom rage inducing Hollywood trend – repackaging classics and studio milestones to launch mega million franchises.

For those who are still curious, the movie is badly focused, heavy-handed and too dim. The direction of this third remake is summed up perfectly by two scenes – one where pixie dust is used like a recreational drug, the other is when Blackbeard and Co. burns fairies alive in a blaze of glory.

Yes, here goes another classic ruined.

My Rating: 4/10

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