Before its release, a substantial amount of coverage of Pan has been based on the casting of Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily. While that can be used to highlight one of the troublesome practices in Hollywood, it also may lead at least some people to become disinterested in this film. As I found out for myself, that’s not the only issue that many moviegoers will have a problem with if they ever decide to watch this at some point.
In this film that’s somehow being touted as a “wholly original adventure,” audiences are introduced to Pan (Levi Miller) as a twelve-year-old boy who’s always finding himself in trouble at the orphanage that he’s called home his entire life. Since this is predictably not the kind of kid wants to grow up in, the prospects of leaving is what’s always at the center of Peter’s heart. Unfortunately, where he finds himself isn’t a peaceful place where he can reunite with his mother. Instead, he ends up in Neverland, a mysterious world controlled by a pirate known as Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman).
In spite of there being a whole lot going on, Pan had a difficult time keeping my attention. It could be because what they’re offering is conventional, but it could also be due to most of this stuff simply not being all that interesting. Although it’s supposed to be original, nothing in Pan can really be seen as new. It is Hollywood after all, so this news will most likely not catch anyone by surprise. However, I would think that many would want to watch a movie that’s better than this in terms of entertainment.
To add to my point of Pan simply not being interesting, I’ll talk about the cast that’s been given the task of making the movie enjoyable. First off, Hugh Jackman puts on a solid display of acting as the antagonist known as Blackbeard. He’s easily the best actor in the film and does just about all that you could hope for from him. The problem comes when you realize that he’s the only person here that manages to pull that off. Including Pan, no one else brings any memorable traits along with them for us to revel in.
The worst actor in this “original” film is easily Garrett Hedlund, who stars as James Hook before he became Peter Pan’s arch nemesis. Simply put, Hedlund puts on an extremely poor performance. I say this because the dude is clearly acting. When watching a movie, you should never be able to tell that someone is putting on a performance unless it’s being done on purpose. He gives a great deal of effort, but the finished product is embarrassing and will have more than a few casting directors giving him “the side eye” if and when he auditions for similar roles in the future.
Speaking of casting, in a film that’s been criticized about their practices in that area when it comes to race, there are actually a good number of non-White actors to be seen in Pan. That probably sounds like I’m about to say something good, but the thing is all of these actors are essentially doing their best imitation of window dressing by simply standing in the background. Although they love using it so much, this is one of the many examples that helps you realize that many in Hollywood don’t truly understand what the word “inclusion” means.
Now, there are a few non-White actors who do get to step out from the shadows to some extent, but each one of them are only here to take orders. Unlike their Caucasian counterparts, none of them have their own purpose or any real say so over their own lives. As a movie, this makes Pan look almost as bad as that amateurish Exodus: Gods and Kings thing that Ridley Scott wants to pretend never existed. Of course, having Tiger Lily actually appear as she’s supposed to would have done a great deal to reduce these kinds of complaints, but that apparently wasn’t very important.
Despite what’s promised, Pan is nothing more than the basic fantasy film filled with the usual generic features that audiences are used to getting in movies from this genre. Since that’s the case, make sure you do yourself a favor by not expecting any more than that. Along with the all too familiar trappings, the vacant characters and a consistently unfortunate performance put forth by Mr. Hedlund, Pan will likely disappoint those who choose to give it a try.
Director: Joe Wright
Film Length: 111 minutes
Release Date: October 9, 2015
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures