|A cool images from "Pan," but it comes at the very end|
Full disclosure: I went to see Pan with extreme prejudice. As someone who has cheerfully adulterated J. M. Barrie's classic for her own devices, I'm leery of anyone else trying to do the same. And I'm very possessive of the way "my" characters (let alone Barrie's) are portrayed onscreen.
I wish I could say I was pleasantly surprised by Pan. But it's even worse than I imagined, in every way that matters: a story that makes any kind of sense on its own terms, characters we're invested in who share a sense of camaraderie, fresh dialogue, and, you know, fun. Pan comes up goose eggs in every department, opting instead for insanely huge and irrelevant CGI effects that pummel the fun right out of it.
Director Joe Wright can do literary adaptations (the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice; Atonement). But Jason Fuchs' script is an ill-conceived origin story that makes hash out of the original's time frame and sensibility. Not that Barrie's world of perverse feral children isn't ripe for a little tweaking, but Fuchs' revision is a clumsy, derivative mashup that steals from other, better sources, like Oliver Twist and Star Wars.
|Neverland tribes: don't call them native Americans|
It's not much of a life for a pirate—no women, no plunder, and nothing to spend it on, so why he wants to sustain it eternally is just one of the many things that doesn't add up. Tipping on a precipice one day, Peter astounds everyone, including himself, by flying across the gorge; turns out there's a prophecy that Blackbeard will be defeated by a boy who can fly. This is big news to the native tribes that live in the lush greenbelt over the hill from the mine, who need to stop the pirates before they despoil the entire island.
|Indiana Hook and the kid. Before it all went wrong|
Not so James Hook (Garrett Hedlund); in this version, Barrie's well-spoken Etonian is a blond American laboring in the mine, spouting a line of trite, patently "cocky" dialogue that would make Han Solo cringe. He befriends Peter (Hook calls him "kid"), and they steal an extra pirate ship that happens to be floating around and fly off to join the princess in her fight against oppression.
Did I mention there's an entire flotilla of flying pirate ships hovering above the island? Why do they fly? Who knows, but evidently that's not what they're using the pixie dust for. But if every ship is airborne anyway, what's the big deal that Peter can fly?
|Jackman: Darth Blackbeard|
You know a movie is in trouble when not even Hugh Jackman, stomping around in black leather as a sort of steampunk Darth Blackbeard, can liven things up. He cruises around in a flying ship whose figurehead is a massive sculpture of his own head in its pompadour wig, which is a funny image for a couple of frames, but the script never gives Jackman—or anyone else—an actual character to play.
Who is this movie is aimed at? Wright says he made it for his son, but it's hardly magical enough to enthrall kids (and it's way creepy when the pirate ships blast through the Fairy Kingdom with flamethrowers), while adults will feel bored and/or bludgeoned (often at the same time). The wheezy plot won't interest young hipsters—not even (especially) in 3D. It's a shipwrecked extravaganza for an audience that doesn't exist.