I knew it would be terrible but I went to go see Pan because of two things:
- the director, Joe Write, is a far superior director in skill than what this movie would seem to be—he is a man who has Sense and Sensibility and Oscar-contender such as Atonement (that I didn’t particularly like but I can respect) on his resume. He must have seen something in it.
- Because the writer, Jason Fuchs, was just given the job of writing an upcoming movie entitled Wonder Woman—and I wanted to know what I was in for, and whether or not I should just feel that DC has blown it just as completely as Marvel has.
So knowing that this was going to be a horrendously terrible film, I went anyway. And I can tell you that I feel that as bad as this movie was, it was not due to the writing (so we can still maintain hope for the quality of Wonder Woman!)
But regrettably let’s go over this unneeded movie.
The film Pan follows the story of Peter Pan before he became Peter Pan, how he met Hook, and all that fun stuff. It’s a prequel. Honestly, has there ever been a prequel the was worth a damn?* This film has absolutely no basis whatsoever in the books. It starts off ignoring the books by beginning in World War II, London during the Blitz! (Oh but don’t worry they claim that you can reach any time period from Neverland??? They say this to justify a bizarre moment with an entire valley of pirates and slaves singing Nirvana songs…why? Because somebody was clearly on drugs.) But back to WWII London we start off with young Peter, an orphan, who apparently was born in Neverland and then shipped off to Earth to save him… yeah, that makes no sense… is then captured by a flying pirate ship and taken to Neverland (convenient that of all the orphans in the world they capture the one who is from Neverland). In Neverland, we find the evil Captain Blackbeard (who is played by Hugh Jackman, who clearly needs to fire his agent) is using large armies of orphans to mine for fairy dust. which apparently grants eternal youth. Whether or not this is how Peter stays young for the rest of his life, or because he’s half fairy, we’ll never know because we never need to revisit this universe. In the mines he meets another orphan turned miner, the much older James Hook, who still has both of his hands. Together they escape with a clerk named Smee (yeah, this is really cheesy) finally meeting up with the natives of Neverland, among them Princess Tigerlily (played by Ronney Mara, the only person who appears to have decided to try and act in this abomination of a film). Peter is there told that his he is half fairy and half human that he’s prophesied to end the reign of Black Beard. Then you have the typical trite hero’s quest of “no I don’t want to be a hero, but I have to.” Quite frankly, the movie doesn’t make a lot of sense and you should avoid it.
Now on the good news side the reason that it doesn’t make a lot of sense is not necessarily what I would call the fault of the writer. This is one of those movies that has been pushed back several times in release date clearly in trying to meet some bizarre studio executive’s need to have it edited and reedited. For instance you will see, if you actually torture yourself and see this film, the actor playing James Hook give radically different takes. While not a spectacular actor in any scene, he seems to be acting in a much darker and more serious movie in any shot where he’s with another human being…but in shots by himself (and there are an astounding number of them) he is apparently starring in some kind of children’s farce. This clearly suggested to me that this particular actor was called back for a lot of re-shoots to make the movie far cheesier and far less serious. Also there are giant jumps in plot and character development that suggests that there are probably scenes in between these jumps but they got cut…so I don’t necessarily feel that the writer should be blamed for this as the majority of this film is clearly rewrite and rewrite, upon reshoot after reshoot and I have no idea how much of the original script is left (but I could just be hoping against hope that this means that the movie Wonder Woman will not be a complete disaster).
However Pan is a complete disaster.
The imagery is over-the-top at every point—it makes the movie Hook of a generation ago look sane, stable, and low-key…and if you remember Hook you’ll know how bizarre a statement that is. The character of Pan is rather shallow, at least with what they’ve left on screen. And the actor playing James Hook should probably never get another job again, because even at his best in the more serious scenes, he’s still not very good.
The movie ends with characters who make no sense in the story you know is eventually going to come. For instance it ends with Hook still a bit of a hero, Pan’s friend, in love with Tigerlilly, and still in possession of both of his hands. It makes absolutely no sense what the falling out would be between these two characters. It’s really just a terrible film. I feel there are moments that suggested a better movie had been planned and possibly parts filmed, but what they decided to release was unspeakably terrible.
*Okay, there is X-Men First Class, but let’s be honest here that isn’t so much of a prequel as trying desperately to reboot the franchise completely. But other than that there is no such thing as a good prequel. Go look—THEY’RE ALL TERRIBLE.