Director: Joe Wright
Writers: Jason Fuchs, J.M. Barrie
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, Levi Miller, Garrett Hedlund, Adeel Akhtar, Nonso Anozie, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Burke, Lewis MacDougall, Cara Delevingne, Tae-joo Na, Jack Charles, Bronson Webb, Mike Shepherd, Brian Bovell, Tony Allen
Synopsis: 12-year-old orphan Peter is spirited away to the magical world of Neverland, where he finds both fun and danger, and ultimately discovers his destiny -- to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for fantasy action violence, language and some thematic material
4 / 10
- Acting was decent for the most part
- Direction wasn't too bad.
- Cinematography was okay. Nothing special, but it did help capture the mystical feel of Neverland.
- 3-D was great
- The Nirvana Song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit", feels out of place in this movie considering it allegedly takes place in the 1940's, while Nirvana didn't make their debut until 1987.
- Special effects looked obliviously fake.
- Weak script that featured a lot of plot holes.
- Forgettable characters. Most of which have stereotypical personality traits.
- Casting a white person to play a Native American princess is just another example of Hollywood whitewashing these days.
- Garrett Hedlund's goofy voice undermines his performance as a more sympathetic Captain Hook.
- While Levi Miller wasn't that bad in this film, the reality is that his character was built up to be this great messiah figure, but he really doesn't do much to live up to that hype.
Think a happy thought.......
Although I've been known to agree with most critics on some movies, there have been quite a few exceptions where I often found myself disagreeing with the vast majority of them on certain films. One of them being this year's "Tomorrowland", which I felt was an underrated science fiction adventure. Sadly, "Pan" isn't one of those movies. Don't get me wrong, it's nowhere near as bad as most people make it out to be, but I'd be lying if I said it was worth seeing.
The story is basically an origin story to one of fictions most iconic fairy tale characters ever conceived in Peter Pan, who's played by Levi Miller. To his credit, Levi wasn't too bad playing Peter Pan. If anything, he was probably one of the few bright spots this film even had going for it. Sadly, it's the script that's the main issue with this movie.
Throughout most of the movie, Peter Pan is built up to be some sort of messiah figure that'll supposedly liberate Neverland from the cruelty of Blackbeard the Pirate; played by Hugh Jackman himself. Unlike most of Jackman's previous roles, Hugh chooses more of a campier yet sinister approach to his character. Granted, he's no Dustin Hoffman from "Hook", but he does manage to portray a colorful yet intimidating antagonistic figure in "Pan."
As for Rooney Mara, she does a great job as Tiger Lily. Granted, I know it's not her fault she was cast in a role that was supposed to be portrayed by a Native American, but it was an ignorant move on Warner Bros' part to forget a key essential part of the character, which is the fact that Tiger Lily is supposed to be Native American. Not some white girl obviously pretending to be one. However, if you're willing to overlook that part, then it won't bother you too much. But, it does speak to how sad Hollywood tends to whitewash it's films these days.
Moving on though. Peter is a twelve year old boy that grew up most of his life in an orphanage until one day he's taken away to Neverland, by Blackbeard's crew. Apparently, Blackbeard has been mining Neverland for pixie dust for years because it's elements allow him to retain eternal youth; hence he usually sends out his crew to kidnap various adults and sometimes children to work in his mines. What makes this even more confusing is that it's implied that the nuns that run the orphanage are kind of in on the whole scheme. But that begs the question, why would they openly volunteer to help out a pirate that resides in a far away fairy tale world? What do they get out of it? Is he paying them with gold doubloons or something? It just doesn't add up.
However, the movie never bothers to address this issue, as we're not supposed to question it. Nope, the filmmakers just expect you to eat your popcorn and shut up throughout the entire film . Don't you just love movies that intentionally do crap like this and expect you to never question it? Anyways, Peter is taken to Neverland, as he's forced to work in the mines for Blackbeard.
Upon his arrival, Blackbeard and the entire mining community, in Neverland, engage in a song called "Smells Like Teen Spirit", which was originally sung by the iconic alternative music group known as Nirvana. For those of you who don't know who they are, they were a popular music group in the late eighties to early nineties. What makes this weird though is the film takes place during World War II, so why the hell would you be singing a song that's not even supposed to exist yet? It makes no real sense, and it makes the song feel out of place to quite honest. If anything, it almost makes the film itself seem dated, and it makes you wish the producers and director of this film would've vied for more contemporary songs, or possibly ones that would've existed during that time period.
Don't get me wrong, I love Nirvana as much as any kid that grew up in the eighties and nineties, but I seriously doubt any of their songs would've been played during the 1940's. Granted, I know it's a minor nitpick that I'm sure most audiences aren't going to give two s***s about, but it's worth bringing up.
As far as the rest of the story, Peter eventually befriends a couple of miners named James T. Hook, and Mr. Smee. Some of you might remember those names from some of Peter Pan's more iconic adventures, but since this is an origin story, they all start off as friends. Yes if you're one of those die hard fans that's aching to see Peter Pan take on his arch nemesis, Captain Hook,, then you're going to be disappointed. James T. Hook is a good guy in this one folks, who happens to be in love with Tiger Lily. Think Han Solo if he had a goofy voice; minus Chewbacca. If you can imagine that, then you pretty much get the idea on who James T. Hook is in this film.
But don't worry. They make it rather obvious who the next villain will be if there's ever a sequel to this. Wink wink. Anyways, like I said before, Peter Pan is basically built up to be a messiah, while the fairies wait for his arrival as they hide from Blackbeard's men.
Granted, I know this isn't Levi Miller's fault, and I know he's just a kid. Hell, I don't think it's sane for us to ask any twelve year old kid to take on pirates in a fictional story. Let alone in real life. However, the film spends so much time building him up that you almost feel underwhelmed by the fact that there's really nothing great about him. Sure, he can fly. Big whoop. After years of seeing characters on the big screen flying and kicking a** (ala "Matrix", "Man of Steel" and etc), a kid who can only fly is a bit underwhelming by today's standards.
Not to mention, Peter basically acts like another kid. He's not a great strategist. He doesn't know how to fight, as he's never given a chance to learn how to in this film. If anything, Tiger Lily and James T. Hook do most of the fighting, while Peter cries about finding his mother. Apart from one scene where he saves the tribe of Neverland, by leading Never birds to attack the pirates, he really doesn't do anything to warrant all the hype that surrounds his character..
(Warning: The following paragraph that's written bold text contains spoilers. Please skip it if you don't want any major spoilers. However, if you've already seen the film, or simply don't care, then please read on at your own expense)
And by the climax of the freaking film, he doesn't save the day. It's the freaking fairies that do it. All the kid does is fly, and then points his freaking hand at the pirates. And when he does aim his hand at the pirates, the fairies attack the said pirate that he points to; including Blackbeard himself. My only question is why the hell didn't they do that before? I mean seriously. if these freaking fairies had enough power to kick Blackbeard's a** that easily, then why the hell do they even need Peter Pan? Are these fairies so ungodly stupid that they need someone to tell them who to attack in order to defend themselves? If that's the case, then these must be some pretty dumb a ** fairies. But I digress.
With the exception of Garrett Hedlund, I thought everyone played their parts rather well in this movie; in spite of a mediocre script. Sure, I wanted to like Garret's version of a more sympathetic Hook figure, but the reality is his goofy over the top voice undermines his "Han Solo"-esque persona to the point that it's hard to take him that seriously.
As for the special effects, I have to be honest. These are probably some of the worst CGI effects that I've ever seen in a freaking film. Not only do the Never birds look obliviously fake, but the flying effects are arguably some of the cheapest blue screen effects that I've ever seen in a movie.
Sure, the 3-D shows up rather nicely if you're willing to fork over the extra cash to see it in that format, but with much better 3-D films out there like "The Martian", "Hotel Transylvania 2" and etc, then why would you?
Overall, this movie had a lot of potential to be arguably one of the best fantasy films ever made, but it dropped the ball big time. Not only is the script riddled with various plot holes, but for film that's centered around Peter Pan, it's almost laughable on how "Pan" reduces one of the most iconic fairy tale characters of all time into being nothing more than a mere shell of who he's supposed to be. Granted, I know it's an origin story, and this entire film takes place before he becomes the legendary Peter Pan that we all know and love. I get that. However, it's still rather disappointing nonetheless.
Anyways, if you want my advice, then don't see this film. If you want to take your kids out to see a movie, then go see "Goosebumps" or "Hotel Transylvania 2" instead, as "Pan" isn't worth your time. Let alone worth your money to buy a ticket to.
The Official "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Music Video (Since "Pan" featured this song, I decided to include the official music video in this review. Enjoy)
Do you think "Smells Like Teen Spirit" belongs in "Pan?"
Assuming you watched the music video provided in this review, do you think Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" belonged in this movie?
© 2015 Steven Daniels