Peter Pan is one of those Disney films that I often forget about; whilst it still has quite a presence among the classics I feel it is always in the background rather than the foreground. I was never a huge fan of the story; the only thing I really appreciated was Tick-Tock the Croc. So when I learnt of this reimagining of the Peter Pan story, well a prequel just, I wasn’t the least bit excited. However, when Hugh Jackman’s name surfaced as one of those involved I suppose that I did give it a bit more attention and hoped that something good could be created here.
Unfortunately, I knew from very early on, almost immediately actually that Pan was going to be a disaster. Our story begins with a young Peter being left at an orphanage full of ridiculously animated nuns. I’m guessing their over the top performances were meant to evoke laughter but I didn’t find their growling (yes they growl instead of speak at times) funny at all – this was the first of many eye rolls from me for Pan. The next twenty minutes or so is just filled with WTF moments as the film goes from strange to bizarre and then just plain laughable. A particular example of this is when we first meet Hugh Jackman’s Blackbeard accompanied by a musical rendition of probably the last song anyone in their right mind would have chosen for this moment. I won’t tell you what the song is because the baffling surprise was one of the only things I enjoyed in the film; I don’t know how they managed to get it so wrong. This is the problem with the whole film though as it’s clear that effort has gone into Pan however, every decision has been the wrong one.
Most of the actors overact at every chance they get, especially Levi Miller (Peter) and Garrett Hedlund (Hook) and I mean really badly. As a result of this most of the characters are so irritating that you can’t like any of them! What didn’t help this was the costume design which was off putting to say the least. Hugh Jackman’s Blackbeard looked like a drag Eurovision entry and when we are first introduced to Rooney Mara’s Tiger Lily she looks like some kind of ragdoll Cleopatra. A bit of credit is due for Hugh Jackman though as it was clear to see that he was trying, he wanted to make his Blackbeard a memorable villain but everything surrounding his performance was just of such a poor quality that he never had a chance. The character writing was so inconsistent too, this isn’t massively obvious but when you are bored stiff like I was you pick up on so many of these inconsistencies throughout the movie. Coupled with this was the most unintelligent dialogue I have heard in a very long time, it’s a cringe a minute in Pan and this only contributed further to the utter stupidity of the whole film.
Even though Pan is a fantasy overload it somehow manages to be boring. I hadn’t completely given up hope though because I knew there was going to be an appearance from a certain reptile at some point. However, they even manage to squander the potential for what should have been and exciting and thrilling crocodile sequence by cutting it criminally short! The element that cuts this short I won’t discuss for risk of spoilers but what it revealed to me was that this film was edited so poorly. Whether this was scenes with characters flying, falling, climbing over ropes or CGI creatures the whole thing looked very disjointed and unconvincing. It would be unfair to say that the whole film looks bad because it doesn’t. At times the flying pirate ships do look impressive and they bring some spectacle to the proceedings and when the finale does arrive it actually begins to claw back some of the credibility that the film had never even established. Although don’t applaud too soon as it goes on far too long and allows all the flaws from the film to creep back into the action!
Believe it or not the flaws that I’ve outlined aren’t even my biggest issue with the film. The standout problem that Pan has, is that it fails to address the only interesting element of the film, why Hook and Peter become enemies! The trailers had implied that this relationship would be explored with such taglines as “sometimes friends begin as enemies and enemies begin as friends” – they tease the viewers with this but then do nothing with it. When everything is rounding up they realise that they’ve completely ignored this so they try to shoehorn in some banter about the future relationship between the characters. This again aims for comedy but only comes across as irritating and leaves the audience feeling short-changed.
Pan is one of the worst films of the year; the problems it has are too many to list. We never needed this film to begin with though, ultimately it’s the story of Peter Pan learning to fly and we all know how that ends! Squandered potential, terrible decisions and over-acting galore doom Pan right from the start. No amount of fairy dust will get this prequel off the ground.
We give Pan 1.5 Nerds out of 5