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Pan review

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First introduced in 1902 in the novel The Little White Bird, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan has been a constant source of fascination for Hollywood. Barrie’s formula for the perfect story, appealing to boys and girls with adventure, wonder and imagination has been re-worked in many shapes and forms over the years but none taking on the origin story as picked at here in director Joe Wright’s vision.

It’s an appealing premise showing us how orphaned Peter (Levi Miller) came to be in Neverland and his early encounters with a younger James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and Princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara). The peril here comes in the form of Hugh Jackman as the Pirate Captain Blackbeard and so the stage is set for a new slice of pixie dust sprinkled wonder. However, what Wright has delivered is an uneven story, brilliantly realised in the first forty minutes, with a sagging middle and an unusual setting for the finale which doesn’t deliver on all its promises.


What it does deliver on is Hugh Jackman’s performance. Playing to his theatrical strengths, Hugh Jackman is terrific as Black Beard, the only truly vivid portrayal in the film. The scene where we are introduced to the Pixum mines, where Black Beard has hundreds of orphans digging for the magic rock that provides pixie dust, is great as the movie takes a Baz Luhrman/Moulin Rouge approach, as Black Beard is introduced to the chanting of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. There’s also a steampunk, Mad Max-esque feel to these scenes which provides lovely contrast to Jackman’s showman in his feather collared costumes and pearl earring.

Newcomer Levi Miller does well as grimy, orphaned Peter but sadly the character of Hook here is a non-event. Hopelessly underwritten, the film denies us a true glimpse into the darker path Hook will later find himself on against Peter. Hedlund suffers with it, his dialogue stilted, his delivery overdone and stylised to that of a 1940’s hero, part Indiana Jones, part Brendan Fraser in The Mummy, making it hard for him to sync with the other characters. Rooney Mara looks amazing as Tiger Lily but her impact feels low key for such a front and centre role.

The casting of the fabulous Kathy Burke as a cruel Irish nun who runs the orphanage Peter lives in is however inspired and the scenes of one of Black Beard’s fleet being attacked in the skies of London by WW2 spitfires are impressively done, especially in 3D.Sadly an attempt to reinvent the fairies and their appearance as mere tiny sparks is ill-judged as our perceptions of Tinkerbell et al are already laid out in our minds through previous incarnations and it definitely is lacking that magic that they bring to the table.

If you perhaps expect something different you won’t be disappointed but playing as they do with characters already so well established may be asking just a bit too much of the parents while little ones will enjoy the occasional spectacle.






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The Movie Bit: Pan review
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