Joe Wrights, Pan is a movie that appear to be flying about in the marmite category, viewers either love it so much they feel like they’ve been sprinkled in pixie dust or they loathe it so much that they’re tempted to support Captain Blackbeard over our young protagonist, Peter (played by Levi Miller). Yes, you heard it right, Captain Hook is not the enemy in this tale, instead it is the slightly Georgian looking unrecognisable Hugh Jackman who portrays the pantomime character and bizarrely dressed Blackbeard who seems to have a guilty pleasure of singing Nirvarnas, ‘Smells Like Teenage Spirit’ whilst inhaling pixie dust to keep him young and eternal (equivalent of taking drugs it would seem and a reference to Harry Potter and that famous stone…) Jackman does a fantastic job and definitely has the fear factor especially in the shadow fight in the camp later on. Captain Hook however does feature in the movie, just not as the hook handed man that has darkened the dreams of all young children through the years, instead Hook is a young man played by Garret Hedlund who is a cocky, Indiana Jones esque guy if the hat is anything to go by. Again he seems a pantomime actor with constant jokes, buckets of charisma and continuous flirtation with Tiger Lilly, a compeltely different representation of JM Barries Hook. I would have liked to see at least a smidgen of his dark character. Instead of beginning with rivalry the young Peter and Hook’s hatred of each other starts off as one of friendship. This was enough to get me to the cinema. I was intrigued to see how the friendship would be broken, why would Hook turn against Peter, how would the script writers create it. All there was to go on was the quote ‘where enemies become friends and friends become enemies.”I waited patiently throughout the whole movie and as the time went by and the ending drew near I realised that this was clearly something going to be left for the sequel (though if the ratings are anything to go by the questions may remain only answered in people’s imaginations. Or lost in Neverland. The quote seems fairly pointless considering that the ‘friends become enemies’ remained as invisible as Harry’s coat. Rather disappointedly there were no physical references made to Hook, he didn’t even lose his hand which I felt would have at least satisfied some of the ardent Peter Pan fans and given a hint of what was to come. The movie itself is well constructed and I really enjoyed it. It began very strongly with Pan’s mother (Amanda Seyfried’) hurrying through the dark streets to leave her son on the doorstep of the grim London Orphanage (a reflection of Oliver) promising “I’ll see you again, if not in this world, then another.’ The orphanage is ruled over by the tyrannical Mother Barnabas (Kathy Burke) In a scene that is a blend of nightmarish clowns and circus exploits, unexpectedly pirates come down on bungee jump cords with faces like something out of an Alice and Wonderland nightmare, to snatch the children from their beds and drag them onto the flying ship (whilst the ship didn’t technically fly until the end of the original Peter Pan) On the subject of confusing parrallesims, JM Barries Peter Pan is set in the Edwardian times yet Pan is much later, World War 2 later. The CGI of arriving in Neverland is second to none, magical worlds enclosed in bulging bubbles with star scapes and dreamy galaxies to ignite the imagination. Then we arrive in Neverland where the children are put to work mining for fairy dust and the moment the pirates started to sing the movie began to unravel.
The escape scene (accompanied by Smee played by Adeel Akhtar who seems to serve only for a bit of light humour before betraying the small group and disappearing from the story) was full of excitement and tension but after that the plot seemed to wander this way and that like a map designed by a faulty sat nav. The trailer had shown the exhilarent shot of the famous crocodile launching itself out of the water over the boat. My mind visualised a fantastic and enthralling fight scene but once again I was disappointed, yes Pan ended up in the water but the trek through the jungle took a lot longer time than the action scene. With such fantastic CGI that moment could have been something of pure magic, alas it was sadly deflating.
The rest of the movie went by in a blur of psychedilliec costumes, TigerLilly’s headdress looked like something I would buy my cat to play with, those pom poms seemed to overpower Rooney Mara’s acting somehow as you couldn’t take your eyes off them…She brings something completely different to the role with kick ass character and a don’t mess with me attitude, clearly one for feminism, you can see her fighting for rights for women. The movie does at times resemble a pantomime show with the light humour, comedy moments such as the fight scene which loses the fear by shooting the whole thing on a giant trampoline, and the kaleidoscopic spectrum of colours. Joe Wright the director seems an unusual choice for the role considering his past movies such as Pride and Prejudice which aren’t in the category of children movies however I do like what he has brought to the story, he fills it with twists and it does stand out I just feel it would have been much stronger had the plot had more depth.
The best part about the movie would be newcomer Levi Miller who stole the show with his bright eyed and mischievous misendeamour alongside the beautiful music which told the story in stunning technicolour and emotion, the background voices creating the air of music, you could imagine the tribes of Neverland singing the anthem (a lot more appropriate than Smells Like Teenage Spirit which is sung along to the tune of Entertain Us ) The tick of a clock can be heard in the music a reference to the ticking crocodile, that again fails to materialise.
The movie is filled with beautiful sets and magical creations Pan is derived from the studio that brought us Harry Potter a movie which enraptured the hearts of the world both young and old and whilst Pan features quite a few references to adult themes such a drug use, sex references and strong language it does seem more focused on the younger target audience or perhaps those like myself who have never really grown up.