Overview: Peter is kidnapped by pirates and taken to Neverland to work under the rule of the ghastly Blackbeard, only to discover he is the chosen one meant to help the natives to protect the fairies and save Neverland from destruction. Warner Bros. Pictures; 2015; Rated PG; 111 Minutes.
Over And Under: Director Joe Wright, known for films like Atonement and Anna Karenina, injects an overwhelming amount of camp and exaggeration to this disjointed backstory of the boy who flies and never wants to grow up. Pan overdoes it in every way possible: it’s overacted by most of its supporting cast, it’s over-saturated with CGI, and it’s overstuffed with superficial romance and sentimentality that never really sparks genuine emotion from the viewers. And what this film is not overdoing, it’s lacking, such as intelligent dialogue, a balanced plot, and characterization.
Think Happy Thoughts: The script is overflowing with redundant banter and exaggerated winks to the original story, leaving no room for conversation that reveals motivation, furthers relationships, or moves the plot forward. The plot of Pan, although simple in concept, is overshadowed by CGI, caricature versions of beloved characters, and pacing issues. The result of this mix of both excess and deficiency is a backstory that’s unfulfilling, leaving the impression that we’d be better off never knowing how Peter Pan ended up in the Neverland in the first place. Add a soundtrack that includes Nirvana and the Ramones and a James Hook who wears an Indiana Jones hat, and it’s easy to forget what film you’re watching entirely.
Second Star to the Right: Luckily, the shining beacon of this film is the casting of Levi Miller as Peter Pan, who paints the original lost boy with the curiosity, mischief, and scoff at authority we know and love about this character, while also adding a maturity and self awareness we’ve never seen. Peter is the most fleshed out character in the film, benefitting from the first twenty minutes of the film spent outside of Neverland.
Straight on Til Morning: On the flip side, the star studded supporting cast is disastrous, led by Hugh Jackman’s Blackbeard, who, while gloriously sinister and quirky, chews scenery more often than not instead of actually presenting himself as a villain to be reckoned with. He’s not silly enough to be comical, but he’s also not scary enough to be considered a real threat. Rooney Mara dons her headpiece with complete reluctance, portraying Tiger Lily with such disdain one wonders what Hook could possibly see in her when their potential romance is briefly, confusedly explored. This leaves Hook himself, played by Garrett Hedlund, with such gleeful camp and excessive mockery, he pushes this film almost into parody territory, which is where it stays from the moment he steps on screen.
Overall: Keep calm and don’t go see Pan, but cross your fingers that Levi Miller will get a role worthy of his talent.