Director Joe Wright attempts a steampunk-fantasy tale in Pan, to mixed results. Orphan Peter (played charmingly by newcomer Levi Miller) discovers he is destined to overthrow pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman), who will do anything to get his hands on fairy dust. Peter, on a personal mission to find his mother, teams up with hookless Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and the feisty Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) to defeat the pirates and save the fairies. For a PG movie, Pan is surprisingly dark with little regard for both life and plot, with boys falling to their deaths and natives bizarrely exploding into color powder when they die.

The idea of Neverland itself requires the suspension of disbelief—but Pan is simply asking too much with its overt use of CGI. And there was that odd (though strangely rejuvenating) scene of Lost Boys singing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” even though the story supposedly takes place during World War II. Other unexplained elements include caverns of green calcite fairy dust, fish in the sky, and Cara Delevingne-mermaids (every mermaid has her face). These are the results of the half-cooked plot that ultimately fails its quest to explain how Pan came to be. Perhaps filmmakers are leaving space for a sequel, but it feels a bit of a cop-out when we never learn exactly how Hook and Pan became such enemies.

The cast is mismatched, with the exceptions of truly Pan-esque Levi Miller and evil, comedic Hugh Jackman. Rooney Mara as the fearless warrior is a marvel to watch, even though she’s not quite perfect for the role of a tribal princess. Garrett Hedlund strikes me more as an unoriginal Indiana Jones/Han Solo than a Hook.

My original love of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan will forever remain—and Pan, on the bright side, has furnished that love with Miller’s near-perfect embodiment of Pan and spectacular overtures composed by the talented John Powell. It’s just a pity Joe Wright’s reimagining of the legend’s beginning falls short of the breathtaking wonder Neverland is supposed to evoke.


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About Cassandra Hsiao

Cassandra Hsiao is a senior at OCSA (Orange County School of the Arts). Her work has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and National Student Poets Program. She has been chosen as finalists of playwriting competitions held by California Young Playwrights, The Blank Theatre, Writopia Labs, and Princeton University. Her poetry, essays and reviews have appeared in TeenReads, Jet Fuel Review, Feminine Inquiry, Aerie International and more. She also conducts print and on-camera interviews as a Star Reporter and Film Critic for multiple online outlets. She won a National Gracie Award in Student Online Video Host Category by The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation .

Posted on October 9, 2015, in Movie Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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