Holy Pudding for the Visuals, Eh for the Story.


                  Robbie K here bringing you another review on the latest movies to hit the theater. This weekend we start off with another iteration about the famous boy who flies, fights off pirates, and flirts with mermaids. That’s right I’m talking about Peter Pan. Over the decades we’ve experienced numerous spins on the tale, and yet I can’t recall too many films portraying Peter’s origins. Well hold on to your hats folks, because director Joe Wright has brought his tale to the silver screen entitled Pan.

Let’s start with the story. We know all the classic elements of Peter Pan, but perhaps you have questioned the origins of our title character. Pan’s tale dives into the impoverished England, once more strolling down the Oliver Twist orphan path as the opening of Peter’s tale. The origin lacks much in terms of originality, but bypasses gross details to get to the meat of the story. Once Peter is abducted to the ageless Neverland, the tale begins to liven up. Pan forgoes a lot of the character development and emotional buildup for superficial thrills. Peter’s relationship with a lot of characters evolves rapidly, from simple hellos to becoming their wards. Fans will certainly not suffer a drawn out plot, but may not like the rapid and abrupt scene transitions. I give Wright his props for adding some darker moments while maintaining the kid friendly environment, but I felt he was a little to ADD in organizing the story. Peter’s journey reaches many impasses, however they blow over without much struggle with our good guys able to overpower their oppressors with ease.

The characters that are part of this plot were also lacking. Acting wise I give them a round of applause, each member certainly doing their best to breathe life into their characters. Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard has the gruff and ruthlessness of a pirate Captain, but soon becomes annoying with his constant screaming and pompous braggart. I did enjoy the use of metal songs as his anthem, a nice touch of modern metal. Garrett Hedlund as Hook captures the classic voice, but his look and presence comes off more Midwestern desperado than future pirate. Levi Miller plays the adolescent Peter quite well, nailing the devious, adventurous, and vulnerable sides of Pan while keeping everything balanced. However it is Rooney Mara who takes first place, bringing a nice balance of wonder, courage, and emotion as the warrior princess Tiger Lily, minus a few flat moments.

Simplistic story and characters aside, Pan’s action is surprisingly higher intensity than I expected. The opening chase between pirate ship and plane is quite exhilarating with all the stunts, explosions, and elements of a World War II movie. From there the action remains dynamic as our characters navigate the various hazards of the world, interjecting combat and comedy to keep it entertaining. Again these conflicts sometimes end without much of a struggle, and a bit anticlimactic at times. Still I appreciate Wright slightly breaking the PG mold and adding some quality edge to the mix. I warn parents there are a few moments that might seem a tad too mature (i.e. executions), so evaluate your children’s psyche before attending this film.

Finally the best quality of Pan for me was the setting. Wright’s team designed a world that is majestic enough to have you say “Holy Pudding”. The jungle is ominous, filled with deep foliage that offers shelter from the pirates, while also concealing ominous predators. Pirate ships are decorated to mirror their “helmsmen”, such as Blackbeard’s ship being cold and lifeless to personify the merciless man he is. And mermaid lagoon, while not as passive as it was in the cartoon, still held the serenity, especially once the gorgeous glowing, (CGI enhanced) mermaids who glow showed up. Even the costumes help pull you into the moment, the pirates having styles that span from traditional buccaneers to more formal, butler ware…okay not everything makes sense. Fortunately the tribal people bring about the hunter atmosphere, blending multiple cultures into their attire and dwellings. While certainly not the most impressive, Pan’s world has the color, whimsy, and magic that captured all our hearts years ago.

Overall Pan is not the best movie to “soar” into theaters. However, it offers a good, kid friendly movie to entertain until the holiday season arrives. It’s a fun thrilling ride for all ages that lays foundation for other movies, (either existing or new), while recapturing the moments you grew up with. Unfortunately the story just wasn’t as put together as I hoped it would be, or as thrilling as the trailers made it out to be. Worth a trip to theater? Only for the special effects and setting can I say it is worth a theater trip, but your money is best saved for other films.

My scores are:

Adventure/Family/Fantasy: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0