I was intrigued when I saw the trailer for the latest Peter Pan film a few months ago.
Directed by Joe Wright (Atonement) and simply titled Pan, the feature promised to tell the origin story of the boy who never grew up.
Boasting bizarre, colourful sights and soaring music, the trailer made the movie look fantastic.
But trailers always do that, don’t they?
Pan was a flop at the box office and reviews to-date have been more savage than a hand-eating crocodile.
Nevertheless, I decided to check this film out myself and see whether the critics were justified in being so harsh.
Pan (PG, 111 mins) begins in World War II with a 12-year-old Peter (Levi Miller) enduring life at a dreary orphanage under the ‘care’ of the dreadful Mother Barnabas (Kathy Burke). One night Barnabas summons pirates who capture Peter and several others in a flying ship. They are whisked off to Neverland where they are forced to mine for fairy dust by the villainous pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). However, Peter teams up with a dashing slave named James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and the wimpy Smee (Adeel Akhtar) and the trio escape to have adventures with Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and the Neverland natives.
There’s also a prophecy that Peter will learn to fly and overthrow Blackbeard but I won’t go into any more detail about the plot. You get the idea.
The critics didn’t have to tear this movie apart so viciously, but I think they’re basically right. Pan is not very good. The plot is uninteresting, the characters lack depth and the action scenes rely too heavily on ropey CGI that assaults the eyeballs. The supposedly terrifying Neverbirds are particularly disappointing, looking like they’ve flown straight out of a PS2 videogame.
It’s frustrating because Pan contains some genuinely good ideas that don’t seem to work in practice. The pirates sing Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ (because some have come from the ’90s), the slain Neverland natives explode in puffs of coloured smoke and the RAF tries to shoot down Blackbeard’s flying pirate ship.
There are some nice nods to Indiana Jones too, particularly in James Hook’s appearance during his escape from Blackbeard’s mines. Sadly though, this movie doesn’t capture the pure magic that those classic Indy films had. It doesn’t even capture the magic of Steven Spielberg’s flawed Hook movie.
It’s a shame really because most of the cast give enthusiastic and energetic performances, especially the young Levi Miller. He deserves to be in something better than this.
Pan (Cert PG, 111 mins, Warner Home Video, Fantasy/Action/Adventure/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £26.99/3D Blu-ray £29.99 or on-demand from various streaming services)
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