The only review of ‘Pan’ you’ll ever need to read!


When you’re a child, you see the whole world around you in a new light. From sights and sounds to tastes and smells, everything is brand new for you, and you can’t get enough of these new experiences. As you get older, those experiences lose their luster, and you tend to…well, grow up. But then something happens, and you experience a movie that not only ignites the spark of imagination in your heart and in your spirit but also carries a great story that captivates the young at heart. That’s what you get with the fantastical journey of pirates, Indians and flying in the movie called Pan.

Let’s get something straight, though, before we continue: this is a children’s film. This is a film that caters to the moviegoers who tentatively need a booster seat to see over the person in front of them. Comparing these films to that of something like say X-Men: Days of Future Past, Hunger Games, or Scorch Trials is just ridiculous and naïve. Sadly, many reviewers of the film are out there stating how it is “slapdash” and “ill-explained” and are forgetting that films like this aren’t made for everyone. The target demographic is intended for children, which means that if you’re expecting something more mature, you’re not the target demographic. Now, there are a few things to state about the film that aren’t superb, but to bash a film simply because you are not the targeted audience only shows how much of yourself you invested into the film. Ok. I’m done. Let’s get  to the review.

Pan is a film that recounts the origin tale of J.M. Barrie’s classic storybook character, Peter Pan, and how he surpasses all obstacles including being an orphan, self-doubt, and the jaws of a massive crocodile, to finally realizing that it isn’t what other people say that makes you special, but what you believe about yourself. Pan chronicles the journey of Peter (Levi Miller) as an orphan, being left on the doorstep by a mysterious blonde who leaves a note, as well as a necklace of a pan flute, with the child. The movie then jumps to 12 years later, showing how Peter has grown, and what he has had to face, being in an ill-cared-for facility ran by the iniquitous head nun, Mother Barnabas.

In the midst of war, Peter and his friend, Nibs (Lewis MacDougall), discover that their wretched caretaker has been selling kids for profit and plan to find out who exactly is taking their friends in the middle of the night. To his grand surprise, not only are the kids being sold but are transported away on a ship floating in the sky! To his dismay, he is separated from Nibs and whisked away on the ship by Captain Blackbeard’s (Hugh Jackman) men to a land he’s never been to before called Neverland. Alongside his newfound friend, James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), the journey begins as he is assumed to be the one spoken about in a prophecy, breaks out of the mines where Blackbeard has imprisoned thousands of stolen orphans – who apparently are fans of Nirvana and The Ramones – and meets the natives, led by Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), that are fighting against Blackbeard and his tyranny. Peter must realize his destiny and find that the true power of who he is.

The film carries many great attributes, starting with its ability to create a cast that builds a great story with their dialogue. First off, I have to say that placing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as a working chant in the mines was a unique touch, but I think it maybe fell a bit short with me. Actor Levi Miller did an outstanding performance as Peter, a confused but determined, young boy that only wants to find his mother. His portrayal of a 12-13 year old boy is spot on, as most boys at this age aren’t sure of what they want, or which direction they’re going to go. His acting ability surpasses many of other actors much older than him, as he is able to show the full spectrum of emotions while still being in control of the scene. Miller does a good job of helping keep the pace of the film, as throughout the film, you recognize that this young boy slowly realizes his truest potential when all odds are against him. Hugh Jackman, as always, brings a great spirit as the film’s antagonist, Blackbeard. His veteran acting skills radiate on the big screen as the ruthless pirate afraid of his own demise. Jackman shows the humanity of Blackbeard as he fears death, but in the blink of an eye, become a ruthless dictator with no regard to the lives of others. As the film progresses, Jackman gives a great performance as his drive to find Peter drives him to the doorstep of madness, and then over the threshold.

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Rooney Mara and Garrett Hedlund both are a great support for the main character for this film who help shine a light on the importance of who Peter is. Hedlund may have had a few moments where his accent does become overly John Wayne-ish, but he has the ability to portray a young James Hook as a friend. He is still able to show a glimmer of his cunning and sly persona, which gives gravitas to his performance. There was much debate as to the casting of Mara in the role as Tiger Lily. In the well-known cartoon, Tiger Lily is a native to the lands of Neverland. The one thing that many people overlooked was what type of tribe was Tiger Lily from? Joe Wright opens that thought with a thought of his own: what if the tribe wasn’t a specific type of ethnicity, but a tribe of many ethnicities? A tribe of the world rather than of a single ethnicity. The tribe that Tiger Lily belonged to in the film was filled with individuals from China, India, Europe, Africa, and etc! So seeing that Mara was cast for the role makes a bit more sense, as in this Neverland, the tribe is not of one race or ethnicity, but a melting pot of all cultures and race. Mara does a well-done job helping push the story along, as her role is to aid Peter in finding his true potential while lending her fighting and parkour skills to get out of sticky situations. She isn’t the strongest actor in the group, but what she does offer helps create a larger story, and builds a much bigger universe.

The visuals in the film were very captivating. As each instance the film could, it would pan the vast expanse of the island, showing an exotic location that would make anyone want to be an explorer. The visual effects team spared no expense in making lifelike crocs large enough to topple yachts, and took the time to creating breathtaking mermaids who assist in getting Peter and his team to the other side of the river. The moment that you see a dogfight between several British fighter planes and a cannon-firing pirate ship that could possibly outmaneuver an F-117 Nighthawk shows the expertise and care that the visual effects team took to make this film a labor of love.

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Overall, the film was exactly what it set out to be: a great children’s film, retelling the courageous tale of the boy who never grew up. And understand one thing: I’m not saying that other websites and reviewers are wrong, I’m only saying that some are forgetting the one key thing about this film: it was made for children. The film is for kids, and going in to see the film, I recognized right away where all the children were sitting, so that I could get a chance to see their faces when they saw incredible things in the theater. I spent about as much time watching the film as I did seeing the reactions, and it was not without reward. The look of sheer excitement as the ships were fighting in mid-air, the shining ear-to-ear smiles from seeing fairies, and the loud rumpus of laughter when seeing Hook trying to fight someone on a trampoline. These are the ones for whom the movie was made for. I sat next to a small girl named Layla, and she was so excited after the film, that she got up, turned to her mom after the movie, and with a big smile on her face, asked, “Was this a story, mom? Can we go find it?” Many kids arose from their seats, jittering with elation, unaware of the world outside the theater, and the homes they will be going back to. This film gave them a piece of hope, even if it was just for about two hours. That’s why Pan was made. Giving bravery and courage back to our children, and seeing that even though the world is big and sometimes scary, we each hold the power to be greater than it, and in the end, overcome it.

Rating: 4/5 Atoms

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Pan, directed by Joe Wright, and starring Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, and Garrett Hedlund, makes its way to theaters this Friday, October 9.

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