Starring Hugh Jackman, Levi Miller, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara
Since he first flexed the strength of his directing skill on “Pride & Prejudice” (2005), Joe Wright nearly became an overnight sensation. “Pride & Prejudice” not only earned its leading lady Keira Knightley her first Oscar nomination, but the film received a total of four Oscar nods. His follow-up “Atonement” (2008), also starring Knightley would receive nearly double that. When Wright tried his hand with contemporary stories “The Soloist” and “Hanna”, critics were divided and both had only moderate box office success. “Anna Karenina” (2012) was an attempt for Wright to get back on top with another period piece adaptation and his muse Knightley back as leading lady. Although “Anna Karenina” did get four Oscar nominations, Wright’s momentum appears lost. I say all that to say that “Pan” is the worst film Wright has made yet, it’s a chaotic mess.
Since birth Peter (Miller) has grown up in an orphanage, desperately seeking evidence that his family was out there somewhere. He and his best mate discover a hidden agenda within the orphanage that leads to Pan’s abduction in the middle of the night to a floating pirate ship. Magically whisked away to somewhere between Heaven and Earth, the 9-year-old orphan arrives in Neverland which is ruled by the menacing Captain Blackbeard (Jackman). When Peter discovers that he can fly, Blackbeard begins to see him as a threat. Peter manages to escape the evil plotting of Blackbeard in hopes to find his mother among the land of the fairies.
Wright or the producers of this $150 million CGI disaster obviously want this version of Peter Pan to resemble that of Harry Potter.
The first real grimace with “Pan” is the sky battle between World War II fighter jets and 18th century flying ships. The chaos begins with Pan’s abduction from the orphanage and never relents. Wright or the producers of this $150 million CGI disaster obviously want this version of Peter Pan to resemble that of Harry Potter. Much darker than Disney’s animated and live action versions of the story, or the campy but quite superior Spielberg version “Hook”. Serving as a prequel to the story we are familiar with, the script flows with the intention of a sequel, but Wright’s “Pan” is more likely to end up like the costly “Golden Compass”. This version is more interested in fighting than anything else, even the stories heroine Tiger Lilly (Mara) gets a fight scene with main villain Blackbeard.
While the story never loses sight of the embedded morals of finding courage, the violence and frightening material is likely too dark for younger children. At the same time Blackheard singing Nirvana’s “Entertain Us” is too over-the-top for intelligent adults. Hedlund’s youthful James Hook, before he turns into the iconic one handed villain is equally as colorful as Jackman’s wig wearing antagonist. At any given moment throughout the film there are too many elements on screen at once, as if Wright’s aim was a busy pallet. It’s hard to speak to the overall look of the film since its 3D rendering is one of the darkest and dulling conversions this year. Everything audiences loved about Peter Pan is reduced to uneventful action sequences.
One of cinema’s most promising directors hits career low with Pan prequel.