Friday, October 9, 2015

Pan Review: Neverland Legend is a Fun Yet Flawed Adventure

Throughout the years, classic stories have been adapted into movies on many occasions. Tales such as Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz continue to be apart of movie history; and these stories will likely continue to be adapted into motion pictures for years to come. Among those stories is another tale that continues to return to the silver screen: Peter Pan. Peter Pan has had many film incarnation over the years: from the classic Disney film to the Steven Spielberg's Hook. However with all the movie adaptations on the J.M Barrie's story, few have emphasized the origin of Peter Pan; that is until now. Directed by Joe Wright is the prequel simply known as Pan. Bringing a new twist to the classic story, Pan shows viewers a different take on how Peter found himself in Neverland, and how he met characters such as Captain Hook. With so many variations to this story, does Pan live up to the iconic tale or is thinking happy thoughts not enough for this adaption?

The story of Pan follows the journey of Peter (Levi Miller): an orphan trying to discover what happen to his mother as he remains in an orphanage. As kids continue to disappear, Peter tries to uncover the truth, but is soon  abducted by pirates in the night. Peter is  taken to a place called Neverland where he encounters the notorious pirate leader Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). After meeting James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), the two journey into Neverland where they find Tiger Lilly (Rooney Mara) and the other natives. Discovering the truth about his past, Peter must find a way to save Neverland and become the legendary “Pan”.

The story to this prequel has its flaws. The movie presents various plot elements such as Blackbeard's motivations; only for them to add very little to overall story. Along with underdeveloped plotlines were  cliches like Peter being the “chosen one”. While these formulas have been handled in worse fashions, they did not do much for the story of Pan. Yet even with these issues, the plot to Pan had its merits. There was a sense of adventure behind this story, and I could not help but be entertained by the simplicity to this plot. This story falls under the case of “what you see is what you get”; and though it may not have been dynamic, it was fitting for the context of the movie.

Like the story, the characters to Pan had their strength and weaknesses. The biggest issue with this element was the characters' development. While everyone was easy to follow, there was minimal progress or dimension in the characters themselves. In fact some of the development seemed like the stepping stones to something more (which may have been the point). What works for the characters though is the actors' performances. In one way or another, every cast member had something to offer. Levi Miller and Garrett Hedlund had fantastic chemistry as Peter and Hook. The two actors had terrific banter together which created a connection between them that could be used as both a friendship and a rivalry. Hugh Jackman shined as the movie's antagonist. Jackman's charismatic performance as Blackbeard made every scene of the notorious pirate worthwhile to see. Though Rooney Mara may not have had the impact like her peers did, she still provided a solid performance as Tiger Lilly. Along with some surprises like funny minor characters and a supporting performance from Amanda Seyfried, the cast to Pan made for colorful characters that seemed right at home in the world of Neverland.

If there was one element that worked in Pan's favor, it had to be the spectacle factor. From the effects to the overall design, the spectacle behind this fantasy film was simply magical. Another addition to the effects was the film's 3D. While I am not the biggest fan of format, I can however note when 3D is used effectively in a movie; and it was definitely effective in Pan. The score by John Powell was a highlight for the movie as it  blended adventurous themes with soothing melodies. Though the decision of the Neverland inhabitants  singing song likes “Entertain Us” was questionable, but it was not a major distraction; and the renditions were quite catchy.

Pan may not be the most exemplary rendition to the J.M. Barrie story; and when it comes to movies, it is not most dynamic of its kind. However when it came to being entertaining, Pan more than exceeds with its engaging cast and its fantastic sense of spectacle. Because of these factors, as well as other elements, Pan turned out to be a fun adventure worth seeing this season; and its own way: this prequel stayed true to the name of Peter Pan.

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