Having read a number of negative reviews, I went into Pan with relatively low expectations. After all, there have been so many movies and re-makes about Peter Pan in the past, how could this one offer any originality or flare?
However, I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Stylistically, I could not find fault. Aesthetically, in this version, Neverland has been re-imagined in a much more vibrant and tribalistic manner. Some of the steampunk elements of the film did seem out of place at the start, yet are now somehow implanted in my own interpretation of Neverland. In this way, Joe Wright has found a great deal of success in his choices of direction.
The performances of Hugh Jackman (Blackbeard) and Garret Hedlund (James Hook) were both highly commendable and were the standout actors throughout the film. This being said, not everything in the film was that impressive, forcing me to concur with some of the scathing reviews this film has thus far received. In places, the script came across as lack-lustre, particularly at the start of the film where the audience is left far too long without any excitement or, in fact, plot. On another note, there are several moments in the film that seem random and irrelevant to the main storyline. Cara Delevigne’s appearance as the mermaids in the notorious ‘mermaid lagoon’, seemed to serve the sole purpose of getting a model to pose at various camera angles and get another celebrity name into the credits. The other example being the musical entry for Blackbeard, where a crowd of onlookers in some sort of cavern start singing “Here we are now, entertain us!” At that point I think everyone in the cinema shared a moment of bewilderment and embarrassment.
“Some of the steampunk elements of the film did seem out of place at the start, yet are now somehow implanted in my own interpretation of Neverland”
A complete lack of depth also held the film back. It raises several interesting and original concepts but only touches on them, failing to make it anything truly unique. One such concept being the idea that the fairy dust or ‘pixum’ was the source of the eternal youth, and Blackbeard’s sole motivation behind his inhabitance and enslavement of the boys on Neverland, yet the audience only see this once with Blackbeard reversing his age? This seemed like a huge waste of potential for the plot. The love interest between Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and James Hook was an element of the film I wanted to love but unfortunately couldn’t, as it was simply not made to be an integral component of the film which, given the amount of screen time it was given, it should have been. In relation to the ‘whitewashing’ of Tiger Lily, I can only comment by saying that in my opinion they should’ve at least attempted to represent the Native American culture that is in the original story, rather than having Tiger Lily as an almost stereotypical ‘white girl’ in tribal festival gear, and the ‘Pan’, their greatest warrior as a Japanese fighter. The lack of effort with realistic casting in this regard was almost as laughable as it was concerning.
Overall, Pan was a decent outing to Neverland so don’t let the critics put you off going to see it. This being said, there was a lot more potential to this film than was realised in production.