<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Joe Wright. Written by Jason Fuchs. Starring Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara, Kathy Burke, Amanda Seyfried, Nonso Anozie
Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes
We know the story of Peter Pan, well at least vaguely, and have had movies do their take on the original JM Barrie story and PAN makes a try but never quite flies.
When this film first started off I thought I was watching Oliver Twist. Set during World War II we see Peter (Levi Miller) and a band of orphans being ill-treated by a bunch of nuns lead by the evil Mother Barnabas (Kathy Burke) who has a secret deal with pirates from Neverland who abduct the kids to use as slaves in their Pixie Dust mines.
A flying ship and some pretty nice 3D take us to a weirdly crazy world where Hugh Jackman is trying to be Johnny Depp – only with exceedingly bad make-up and wardrobe – as Captain Blackbeard. He’s using the kids to mine Pixum to give him eternal life and is also battling the Native Tribes who protect the endangered Fairies and their magical crystals. Apparently Jackman wanted song and dance in the film (since he’s quite the performer) but this is the worst kind of musical you’ll ever see. They realised that half way through and stopped, thankfully. Jackman hams it through the film by the way and fails miserably at characters that even the faltering Johnny Depp has portrayed with much greater flair and charisma.
An older (much older) orphan played by Garrett Hedlund called Hook (hmm, sounds familiar) befriends Peter and they break out in search of the tribes, since Peter now has the power to fly and is ‘the chosen one’ to kill Blackbeard. Hedlund is like a poor man’s Indiana Jones, with a thick cowboy accent; he looks totally out of place here even though he’s quite pleasing to look at.
Originally the tribe of Natives were supposed to be Native Americans but they don’t look very much like that in this film. Their princess, Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), is very white and very colourful. In fact the whole tribe looks like a box of Crayolas (you remember those right, the huge pack of crayons!) and they explode into Holi dust when Blackbeard kills most of them. Yes, there’s a lot of violence in this film that includes sending a boy to his death by walking the plank.
There is a nice element there though, played out mostly by Miller’s Peter. He gets the emotional bits down wonderfully, does the action great and even gives us a glimpse of what the filmmakers may have been trying to do with this film. Maybe it’s just about being yourself. There’s also a subtle comment here about endangered species fighting back against humanity.
I have to admit that I did sort of get teary eyed at the end of this film, but then I was a bit emotionally wrought that day. Even though it’s gotten horrible reviews – Jackman and his horrid make-up and dress are enough to warrant chopping off one whole star – I thought PAN was a reasonably good try that may not have sunk but is certainly adrift at sea.