Review: ‘Pan’-a Catastrophic Failure

In the beginning of Pan, the narrator pronounces “this is a story about a boy who will never grow up and a man with a hook, but it’s not like the story you have heard before.” Well, at the very least we can agree with the narrator; Joe Wright’s version of Pan is unlike any version of the classic J.M. Barrie story I’ve ever seen. Pan is a horrid retelling that amounts to $150 million train-wreck, visually resembling psychedelic puke. You would think, after all the delays this movie underwent, they could have got this movie right. But man oh man does movie have issues. Remember, this movie was initially slated for a June release and was moved back to this week in an attempt to add more special effects. MORE SPECIAL EFFECTS! You think that was the problem! I don’t know even where to start.

The film starts off with a very young Peter being left at a home for lost boys (get it … lost boys … trust me, it gets worse) during World War II in London. His mother Wendy (yes, that Wendy ) leaves him with a note: “I will see you in this world or next ( yes, I’m aware how bad that sounds).” We immediately are thrust forward to supper time, and Peter is 9-years old in line to get his porridge from a nun, and he’s discussing with another boy in line about how the other boys are moving in to better homes. Later on that evening, lo and behold, we have Pirates jumping into this orphanage and taking these boys. So eventually Peter is taken on to the pirate ship that happens to be on top of the orphanage in London and he’s on the ship of the notorious Captain hoo …. Wait… not hook .. Black Beard played by Hugh Jackman. He looks more like Freddie Mercury with a bit of Christopher Walken Hair. Is this starting to make sense? It gets better.

These boys are kidnapped to work in Black Beard’s mines so they can dig for Pixum ( that would the rock that fairy dust comes from … duhhh) and while in the mines Peter meets a fellow a miner who he befriends named James Hook ( yes, that James Hook ). They hatch a plan to escape. In the midst of the escape they run into natives, one of which is named Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), who is as believable in this role as Elizabeth Berkley was when she played a druggie on Saved by the Bell. Do you get the picture? This film is one big imbroglio.

You might be holding out hope that at least Pan is pleasant to the eyes, but in reality it’s harmful to your soul. I don’t quite comprehend what they were shooting for when it came to the production elements in this film, but it seems every time the special effects team had a nice digital shot they decided … hey let’s add more psychedelic colors to this. The costumes are wretched, from Tiger Lilly’s headdress that looks like an accident a child would have when using the scissors too much on an art project, to Black Beard’s pirate like hipster outfit. Did the costume department for Pan just decide to throw spare pats all over Hugh? The movie is a frontal assault on the senses from start to finish.

To top it all off, we had a master class in overacting put on by essentially the entire cast. I don’t know who’s decision it was to have Hugh singing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in the canyon but man did it immediately take me out the film. Garret Hedlund was the worse culprit of all, playing hook in this film. His character study amounted to just a really craptastic imitation of Jack Nicholson. I’m talking from his mannerism on down.

In the end, the narrator was telling the truth about this version of Pan. This is unlike any version of Peter Pan I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, a horrific/awful waste of time to watch this catastrophe unfold.

Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.