Young At Heart: Pan
TRIPWIRE’s ANDREW COLMAN takes a look at Joe Wright’s Pan, his prequel to JM Barrie’s Peter Pan
Director: Joe Wright
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Levi Miller
Joe Wright’s Pan prequel is a case of a movie falling between two stools – a children’s film that seeks to minimise Disney-style tropes in favour of harder-edged themes which, despite some excellent production and artistic values, ends up as a somewhat formulaic blockbuster rather than a whimsical period piece with traditional accident-prone pantomime villains. Not that it entirely fails to entertain both the adults and children in the audience – there are excellent turns from Hugh Jackman, who is clearly not afraid to vamp it up as Blackbeard, not to mention Garrett Hedlund’s Hook, which in this production is a lightweight Hans Solo / Indiana Jones archetype (with barely a trace of the classic Captain Hook).
The film starts off in familiar territory, with young Peter Pan sequestered to an orphanage brimming with cosy Cockney stereotypes, but the arrival in Neverland is at odds with J.M. Barrie’s tale – a denuded minescape teeming with grizzled steampunk caricatures straight out of Pirates Of The Carribean. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, what with Jackman’s theatrically impressive entrance (to the tune of the impossibly incongruous Smells Like Teen Spirit). The film ascends into a more Barrie-esque fantasy world when our protagonists escape Blackbeard’s prison and make their way to the florid, beguiling landscape which houses Tiger Lily’s tribe. From there, it’s all cookie-cutter, as Pan strives to locate his mum with Blackbeard nipping at his heels, keen to attain an unlimited supply of life-regenerating fairy dust.
All in all, a film that’s not without its merits (not least Jackman’s scene-stealing performance) which fails to capture the spirit of timeworn children’s literature. But in an age where bigger is better, and demand for spectacle rather than subtlety is the norm, it’s not much less than could be expected.