Pan: All Style No Substance


If there was ever a time I was thoroughly underwhelmed by a film that the trailers had hyped up so much, it would be Joe Wright’s Pan.

Firstly, I’m a huge fan of J. M. Barrie’s metaphorical mastermind creation about a boy that can fly, a pixie and a place called Neverland. It’s all about belief and after catching the utterly magnificent trailer, supported by Christina Perri’s I believe, I really, truly wanted to believe.

I always arrive to the cinema a half hour before the trailers even start, mostly because I want to catch each and every one of them. Sometimes I find that I enjoy the trailers more than the film itself! But on the occasion I went out to watch Pan, I didn’t care much for the two minute cinematic feasts. In fact, I couldn’t wait until they were over and done with so we could  move on to the main event.

The main event arrived, and the first part was rather agreeable I would say. It centres around a boy left at the doorstep of an orphanage, where he grows up a sort of rebel. Decent start.

It was the part after Pan gets kidnapped and taken away to Neverland that really bothered me. First of all, what was with the whole Smells Like Teen Spirit scene? Out of place, and a complete waste of two to three precious on-screen minutes in my most honest opinion.

And then there was James Hook. From one of the trailers, I had the impression that he was a humble, down-to-Earth soul that befriended Peter, which would have made his turn to nemesis all the more shocking. Instead, what we had was a cheap Harrison Ford rip off with terrible dialogue and absolutely no charisma.

Peter himself was petulant and snotty, and I did not empathise with him at all whatsoever. You only have to look at the brilliant Finding Neverland to see how to make a good Peter Pan.

In Marc Forster’s film, the boy was stubborn and did not want to “believe,” but his lines were intelligent and he came off as a kid grown up too fast with real, soulful pain. Meaning, when he eventually did “believe” in Neverland it left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart.

The tribe that Peter and Hook discovered was beautifully done. The costumes were stunning and, just like with the rest of the production, it was gloriously crafted. But alas, it was all style and no substance, still more poor narrative and abrupt transitioning from one scene to the next.

I’d go as far as to say that the visuals and Hugh Jackman were the only things that saved this film from going straight to the dogs.

Here are a couple of things I’d have done differently with the screenplay. The most important thing, I think, would have been to give Hook a lot more depth to his character and definitely better lines.

I also think greater emphasis should have been placed on Peter’s journey to believing. I’d have liked to have seen him work steadily towards it, rather than jump right into it, pun very much intended.

If the story ended with some sort of twist in the tale, presenting Hook with a dilemma that would serve as an eventual push into him becoming evil, I’m sure I speak for everyone that left the cinema when I say it would have been a lot more fulfilling.

Here’s a sample scene I’d have liked to have seen with our friend James Hook.

Pan_Hook meets Peter Pan_Page_1Pan_Hook meets Peter Pan_Page_2Pan_Hook meets Peter Pan_Page_3

What I’ve gone for there is a classy Hook that doesn’t have those silly retorts of “I don’t care about you and I don’t have your back.” Also, eliminating the “kid” in every sentence makes for a more respectful relationship between the two. It might have worked for Luke and Han, but it didn’t feel right here.

The two could potentially have worked together and escaped the mines without having Peter fly so soon (for a kid that doesn’t believe in bedtime stories, it’s definitely too soon).

Following their escape, here’s how I would have Peter and Hook meet the tribe and Tiger Lily.

Hook and Peter Escape_Page_1Hook and Peter Escape_Page_2

I get that this was a “family” film, but did we really need to dumb it down so much? Are we not insulting the intelligence of kids today? Just look at Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (I’ve mentioned this in another post) if you want a brilliant example of a fun, family flick that is still intelligent and even dark.

That leaves us with the conclusion of Pan. I’m not sure if they were thinking about having additional parts for this film, but if they were then the ending was a little too conclusive. I’d have had it on a cliffhanger that maybe paves the way for a Pan/Hook feud for the next films.

Here’s the way I think it should have panned out (no pun intended this time).

Pan Ending Scene_Page_1Pan Ending Scene_Page_2Pan Ending Scene_Page_3Pan Ending Scene_Page_4Pan Ending Scene_Page_5Pan Ending Scene_Page_6Pan Ending Scene_Page_7

Did you have a chance to watch Pan? What did you think about it? Not taking anything away from the great production value, it boils down to that one line: all style, no substance.


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