Pan (2015) Movie Review: Michael Jackson’s Worst Nightmare Pan (2015) Movie Review: Michael Jackson’s Worst Nightmare
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"Joe Wright and his writers have gang-raped this property so hard, it might never be able to walk properly again. If this was my... Pan (2015) Movie Review: Michael Jackson’s Worst Nightmare

Conceived by author J.M. Barrie in 1904 as a play, and later converted into a novel in 1911, the tale of Peter Pan is a work of pure wonder, vivid imagination, and juvenile spirit. The idea of a young boy who refuses to grow up is a concept we can all relate to on some level. The fear of losing your innocence, the thought of forgetting what it means to have fun. Growing colder, more bitter and cynical as the years go by, until the person you thought you were is completely gone or unrecognisable. It’s something we all contemplate on as we go through life, trying to hold onto that curious, youthful vigour and jolly, adventurous optimism that makes us so human. It’s all about realising that there is a distinct difference between growing up and growing old. Growing old is only natural for us, it’s just the way life is. Growing up, however, is something we choose to do. Something we think we have to do. But what exactly defines a grown-up? No one can really tell. It’s such an individual process, yet we constantly like to tell each other what that means.

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In Pan we meet the young orphan Peter, who is left on the doorstep of an orphanage when he is just an infant. We never really get any reasonable explanation as to why, but as with all prequels these days, we of course need some sort of life-altering tragedy that changes the life of our hero forever, so that he can eventually become the man he was meant to be. The chosen one, if you will. Anyways, one day the boy finds out that his mother has left him a letter, telling him to meet her in another world. He is then kidnapped by flying pirates and flown to Neverland, where kids are being forced to work in pixie dust mines by the evil Blackbeard. But all Peter wants is to be reunited with his mom, so he can finally know what it means to have a family that loves him.

Contrary to many other fairy tales, the film adaptations of Peter Pan have pretty much been consistently good over the years. From the 1953 Disney classic, to Steven Spielberg’s highly underrated Hook from 1991, and the 2003 re-imagining. They each had their own charm and clever take on the original source material. Pan sadly does not continue that trend. In fact, I think J.M. Barrie would be ashamed of what Hollywood has turned his baby into; a soulless, shrill, and nonsensical pile of artificial CGI-ugliness. Everything that makes the character so interesting and fun has been completely buried and forgotten in Joe Wright’s disastrous attempt to cater to the lowest common denominator of blockbuster entertainment. This movie doesn’t have a single original bone in its body. It’s NEVER funny, it’s NEVER exciting, and quite frankly it has absolutely nothing to do with the name nor the ideas of the play. Change the title of the film, call Neverland something else, and I bet no one would even know this is supposed to be a movie about Peter Pan. I’m not even joking, this has nothing to do with the original mythos. It is the very definition of a self-centred studio cash-grab, made solely with the purpose of pulling money out of your pockets.

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I can only really describe it as a pretty package with nothing inside. Imagine being a 5-year old kid unwrapping his largest present under the Christmas tree, only to find out that there’s more gift-wrapping inside of it. Nothing to learn from, nothing to play with, nothing to appreciate. That’s what Pan was to me; a promise that was never kept. The characters are so exaggerated and overplayed , it feels like you’re watching a cheesy stage-play on autopilot. Lots of fireworks and effects, no substance and development. The screenplay is so one-note and directionless, even the actors seem like they know something is off. Our flying main-attraction has no arc whatsoever, Tiger Lilly has been reduced to a vending machine of exposition, and Hook is now an absurdly attractive YA pretty boy with sparkly white teeth. If Steve the Pirate from Dodgeball had a baby with Edward Cullen from Twilight, you would get Garrett Hedlund’s captain Hook. Scary thought, isn’t it? Whoever allowed this decision to be had should be fired from filmmaking forever.

Ironically enough, the movie is everything Peter Pan is afraid of. It’s the kind of lifeless lawyer Robin Williams was portraying in Hook; dead on the inside, dry on the outside. It’s so self-serious and calculated, like a strictly disciplined child that no one ever loved or cared about. Only drooling idiots will find any amusement in this empty clusterfuck excuse for a cinematic experience. I had an entire 5th grade sitting right behind me during the premiere, and by the 20-minute mark they were all so bored, they literally started screaming, kicking my chair, and yelling about how they wanted Peter Pan to die. That’s just wrong! I couldn’t believe how empty and shallow this film was. I simply cannot rate it, because that would require something worth rating. Joe Wright and his writers have gang-raped this property so hard, it might never be able to walk properly again. If this was my child, I would file for a restraining order immediately!

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Mathias Folsted Film/Music/TV critic, columnist, and news-writer

An aspiring filmmaker, film critic and YouTuber. Previous experience include extensive work for the largest danish film site, www.filmz.dk, where I served as junior editor, film critic, columnist, and news writer. Also a graduate from the European Film College, I've been a lover of motion pictures for as long as I can remember. My criticism is always honest, but above all emotional.

  • I_am_better

    Oh, my. So it’s THAT bad…
    I just saw the trailer that screened before “The Martian”, and really wasn’t impressed.

  • Mathias

    I’m not kidding when I say that it’s one of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life.

  • I_am_better

    Dang. I guess every director is destined to have that major-budget turkey on their resume. Even Joe Wright.

  • Lol, why do I always dig your negative reviews more?

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    “Michael Jackson’s worst nightmare”? Lol.

    I’d actually liked to have seen the MJ musical-version of Peter Pan that Spielberg was going to direct in the eighties. Captain EO was the tits.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    The negative reviews always warm the cockles of my miserly heart. There’s too much happiness in the world already.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Joe Wright is awful. I can’t tell him and Sam Mendes apart.

  • Mathias

    Perhaps because you don’t like when movies are good 😛

  • not true!

  • I kind of liked Hanna. Not a fan of Atonement.

  • EO scared me as a kid.

  • Wasn’t Captain EO directed by Coppola?

  • Toruk_Makto

    The first time I heard about this movie was when they reported that nobody had heard of it.

  • Bop

    I liked Peter Pan better when it was called The Lost Boys.

  • ErnestRister

    That’s the problem with Canima. All the damn vampires.

  • KilliK

    yep

  • KilliK
  • Tarmac492.1

    Wright might be better than Mendes..close. i liked Hanna for its weirdness and Atonement was cool, Road to Perdition from mendes might be the best but that leo kate winslet movie he did was a waste of celluloid..sorry for mispellings Im banged up 🙂

  • Tarmac492.1

    Ouch. Good review of a bad flick.

  • Well at least Hook isn’t the worst Peter Pan adaptation now, I guess.

  • Dr. Geiszler, Kaijuologist

    IT NEVER WAS.

  • Dr. Geiszler, Kaijuologist

    Damn. So no sequel then? 😛

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  • Spielberg’s Hook is not underrated,the movie is fucking crap. Even Spielberg was candid in regard to where the movie fails. And fail it does.

    The 2003’s movie is fantastic, however. That’s how you do a Peter Pan story.

  • It always will be, unless somebody makes a movie where the lost boys get raped by Hook. It takes going that low to be worst than Hook.

  • Michael Jackson’s worst nightmare would be to grow up.

  • Horrible, horrible movie. Spielberg filmed an analogy for his midlife crisis and sold it to kids. Shameless.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Hanna had a really cool indie vibe for, I guess, something that was probably a mid- budget actioner. I also enjoyed Atonement. He could be very well overrated. This looks like poop. But man, Mendes, is really fucking overrated. I think we have mentioned here how much better John Waters is at satirizing suburban American than Mendes. At a fraction of the cost. As a matter of fact, let Waters direct a Bond film!!! Russell Mulcahy is a more entertaining director than Mendes.

  • Tarmac492.1

    I dont believe I have ever had the desire to see Hook. Perhaps I saw it in the haze of a Tullamore Dew drinking extravaganza, but I only remember seeing pieces here and there on the boob tube. Never appealed to me.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Or to be dead.

  • Mendes is an Oscar bait/generic indie/arthouse movie machine. Wright’s Hanna was at least stimulative and interesting, even if there was some pretense too. Atonement struck me as a little hollow. Too many big pictures for such an intimate story.

  • I’d say growing up would be a prospect worst than death t him

  • I so fucking envy you!!

    This and Indiana Jones And The Lame Crusade were the two punch hit that broke the spell of Spielberg to me, where I saw he wasn’t infallible after all. Schindler’s List and to a minor extent Saving Private Ryan re-established a bit of my former admiration for him but he kept making three tacky movies for each good one. The made Munich which blew my mind and made me believe it was the beginning of a new phase in Spielberg’s career, Alas, it was a one movie revolution, as afterwards the made the JJ Abram’s worthy Crystal Skullfuck.
    A new Spielberg movie used to be an event for me, nowadays I often can’t even bother to go watch them in the theaters anymore. And the movie that started it all, the precursor to my dissatisfaction was fucking Hook!!

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Most of Spielberg’s movies are metaphors for his life’s journey. In fact, the concept of Peter Pan re-discovering the road back to his youth through the birth of his first child is actually pretty weighty and a clever meditation on the psychological underpinnings of Barrie’s mythos. I also like the Granny Wendy stuff and how she’s become an old husk of a woman while her childhood companion/platonic “lover”, Peter, remains much younger. Rather Freudian connotations there.

    It’s a pity the surrounding movie was full of silly slapstick and lame satire, and not up to the task of carrying through these ideas. Bu there is the root of a great movie in Hook.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Yes, and it was also produced by George Lucas.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    I found Road to Perdition to be a good-looking, pretentious load of old crap. Rather like Skyfall, as it happens!

    Mendes didn’t have the balls to turn Tom Hanks into a true villain; instead, he’s a “pseudo-bad guy”, someone who the audience can feel safe identifying with because he’s “not all bad, just misguided”. Complete cop out. And all else I can remember from that movie is Paul Newman muttering, “We’re all damned. God help us all. None of us will see heaven,” about a hundred times. The movie was larded with eye-rolling Catholic guilt.

  • The movie has some very big pictures and dramatic music like a big gangster epic, although it tells a small genre story. That was kind of tone-deaf. And the subplot about approaching his estranged son was so ham-fisted, more tell than show.

  • the cairo detective

    Zing!

  • Sagamanus

    It was to be expected. But to satisfy anyone today let alone 5th graders who were probably taking part in a gang initiation earlier would be tough.

  • Sagamanus

    Hook, not really sure what I can say about that. I don’t really think directors should do things that somehow they were influenced by, or something that seems like the right fit. By that time they had already filtered all those elements into their other works and the original becomes almost like an empty bowl.

  • Coupon: The Movie

    Fucking Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell. Jesus Christ!

  • Coupon: The Movie

    I don’t know why people don’t like Last Crusade. I have no problem with it. The movie for me that broke the Spielberg Spell was Always. What the fuck was that sappy shit?

  • I don’t like Lame Crusade because it’s lame and a bad copy thrownback to Raiders that pussified Indy into a daddy boy. And the action is lame and the cinematography looks like the DP forgot to go to work. The entire movie is lameness incarnated as a film.