So, Pan is the new movie prequel to Peter Pan starring some kid (sorry kid, you didn’t make an impression), Hugh Jackman overdoing it as Blackbeard the pirate, Garret Hedland as James Hook (who is doing some combination of Han Solo dressed as Indiana Jones talking like a comedian’s impersonation of Gregory Peck), and Rooney Mara as Tiger Lilly (who was largely irrelevant to the story and in a bad spot since the character she’s playing is white princess of a tribe consisting of white, black, and asian folk… but not Native American so we can tip-toe around that awkward part of the book and Disney movie).
So this movie is being eviscerated by critics and I would tend to agree with them. This movie comes very close at times to being a fun adventure movie like you saw as a kid (and there are some scenes that really work) but the overall pace, tone, look, and low-ambition ultimately fails it.
First off, I will say the movie is sometimes very imaginative in its presentation and appearance. I can’t fault that… until the rather abstract and boring end fight inside a giant geode or something. That said, it opens during WW2 with Peter in a orphanage right out of a Dickens novel, it has a flying pirate ship that winds up under attach by the Royal Air Force because they mistake it for a Nazi air ship, and then winds up in Blackbeard’s Neverland where the army of slaves he has mining for pixie dust greets him by singing Smells Like Teen Spirit. Later, they sing Blitzkrieg Bop. A lot of critics hate on the movie for this Nirvana and Ramones thing but I thought it was kind of cool… but the only problem is that it’s never explained and the rest of the movie doesn’t have this weird wild abandon randomness to it. It’s like someone had the idea to sing a Nirvana song (when we just left 1940 and based on a story that was originally published in 1911) and then either couldn’t think up anything else weird.
But, yeah, the imagination it has early on can’t carry the movie and eventually they stop trying and it just becomes deadly boring. Action scenes have no weight, heft, or importance. The visuals range from good to sometimes really bad (in a movie where almost every scene has CGI extensions). The acting is ok with Hedland’s weird Indiana Jones/Han Solo performance being distracting and Hugh Jackman just being over the top. There are a couple cute and charming bits of dialog between Hedland’s Hook and Mara’s Tiger Lilly, I suppose.
Overall, this is a forgettable distraction of a movie that seems like maybe it had a few good ideas and then something when very wrong. Kids may love it – I definitely had a sense of being younger and watching an 80s/Spielberg-era adventure movie. Perhaps that will carry the younger ones through… but ultimately that feeling fell apart for me.