- RatedPG /GenreFantasy
Pan’ – written by Jason Fuchs and directed by Joe Wright – is a prequel to J.M. Barrie's compelling tale, and it's an origins story of how young Peter Pan came to Neverland and met Captain Hook.
And like most prequels or origin stories, especially ‘The Phantom Menace’ and ‘Prometheus’, ‘Pan’ is half-baked and saps the magic out of Barrie’s original tale.
Is Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up, so intriguing a character that he merits a back story worth concocting?
Of course, there’s wonder and whimsy, deeds of derring-do, swashbuckling swordfights, strange creatures and colourful characters chock-a-block, all rendered in glorious 3D but Joe Wright’s revisionist tale lacks the emotional fodder needed to keep you sated amid the busy sights.
‘Pan’ takes us on Peter’s (Levi Miller) quest to find his long-lost mother (Amanda Seyfried), which takes him from a miserable English orphanage in WWII-wrecked London to the airborne ship of notorious Neverland pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman).
Peter is then put to work mining with other kidnapped orphans for fairy’s pixie dust or “pixum” which Blackbeard inhales to keep him perpetually young.
Here, he befriends vagabond James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) who seees the headstrong Peter as his ticket back to the real world.
Hugh Jackman and Levi Miller in 'Pan' | Photo: Warner Bros
When made to walk the plank for a minor transgression, Peter discovers to his surprise that he can fly — which means he’s the half-fairy boy prophesied to take the evil pirate down.
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From here, ‘Pan’ descends into a humdrum chase flick, punctuated by the occasional fantasy sequences (one that also involves three Cara Delevingnes as mermaids) and action set pieces.
It is through no fault of the young Mr Miller, who is an inspiration to watch, that ‘Pan’ lands with a loud thud. If anything, the movie is disappointingly let down by the performances of the adult actors who just cannot decide what kind of movie they’re in.
Save for the ever capable Hugh Jackman who tries to set the pace with his theatrical chops, infusing his Blackbeard with a garish mix of your typical pantomine and malevolent Bond villain.
'Pan' | Photo: Warner Bros
Up-and-comer Garrett Hedlund, whose acting credits include ‘Tron’ is lost between channelling Han Solo, Indiana Jones. Hedlund brings a hit of American ruggedness to the movie, but his character’s dogged obstinance becomes tiresome as the movie limps on.
We also meet Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) who was a Native American character in Barrie's tale, and here is a warrior princess of an indigenous tribe which looks like something from a United Colors of Benetton commercial.
Native American she is not, the talented Mara more than competently nails her part down pat, never camping it up for the camera like the rest of her co-stars.
There's also the question of a subplot hinting at a Tiger Lily and Hook romance which fails to take off.
Fans of the source material (and their favourite versions) can relish at the numerous references to the imminent rivalry between young Peter and Hook.
This is not to say that ‘Pan’ is a dud; it is an entertaining family movie, but what it is guilty of is packing too many things into its 101-minute package.
‘Pan’ opens 8 October 2015