Riding the success of Hanna, Jason Fuchs is tasked to deliver another origins story of an extraordinary kid. The director was able to create a strange yet fascinating story about a child soldier by adding fairy tale elements. His treatment for Pan, however, didn’t exactly pan out as intended.
Pan has some redeeming qualities as a well funded blockbuster film. It has a flamboyant flair thanks to the costume design. It offers unique moments with a trampoline fight and a stop motion animated flashback.
Unfortunately, these qualities are minuscule compared to the movie’s heavy-handed approach to an alternative origins story based on a source material that is supposed to be about childlike wonder and arrested innocence.
The script uses child labor and war as a trigger in the most generic hero narrative. After getting kidnapped from an orphanage, Peter is thrown into a crater-sized mining operation used for the sole benefit of one man. Soon enough his rebellious streak lands him in trouble, resulting in a gravity-defying moment that reveals a prophecy about The Chosen One.
The hackneyed plot is filled with overblown CGI action. Held back by the narrative, the characters don’t get any fun. Peter and Hook don’t have any memorable scenes together. The future pirate flirts with a native princess but this budding romance goes nowhere. They’re all stuck in an unmemorable Neverland with steampunk tech and grunge music, which doesn’t make any sense in its world.
The cast ends up with one-dimensional roles because of a rushed plot. Levi Miller is inspired casting, but he’s turned into a plot device. Garrett Hedlund is an Indiana Jones caricature. The tribe is ethnically diverse, but the native who gets the most screen time is portrayed by a Caucasian – the miscast Rooney Mara. Hugh Jackman manages to add another dimension to a caricature villain.
Jackman must have taken the cue from the movie because Pan overdoes everything, as evidenced by an overcrowded boss battle in the climax leading to a neatly wrapped up ending.
Overall, Pan is badly focused, heavy-handed, and too dim. The direction of this third remake is summed up perfectly by two scenes – one where pixie dust is used as a recreational drug, the other is when Blackbeard and Co. burn fairies alive in a blaze of glory.
Pan is a gritty prequel that effectively kills the heart of its source material, delivering a dim heavy-handed origins story and joyless action-adventure.