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by Joseph Saulnier 

I had mixed emotions when I first saw the trailer for Pan.  The story of Peter Pan was one of my all time favorites growing up.  Then Steven Spielberg had to go and get Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman together to bring us Hook, and it solidified the stories of Pan as the best thing since sliced bread for me.  So here we have Joe Wright bringing the word put on paper by Jason Fuchs to real life.  The story of how Peter came to Neverland; and just how did Captain James T. Hook become so fearful of crocodiles.  I was worried, and so I shut it all out.  I did not watch any more trailers, clips, or synopsis on the film.  But, my curiosity got the best of me, and when we offered the press screening, I jumped at the opportunity to see it.  And boy, I am glad I did.

Pan, in case you haven’t figured it out, tells the story of 12-year old orphan Peter (Levi Miller), who is abducted from his orphanage, along with many other little boy orphans, by pirates from Neverland.  When they bring Peter to Neverland, he is forced to work in the mines, serving the evil pirate overlord, Black Beard (Hugh Jackman, no seriously. It totally doesn’t even look like him.).  It’s not long before some very unusual things start happening to him, and he, along with James T. Hook (Garrett Hedlund), escape the mines to find the natives and Princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), who helps Peter discover his destiny.

Loaded with stunning visuals and a great soundtrack (including some very recognizable songs in the form of pirate chants), Pan nails it in all the right ways.  The visionaries who brought this world to life are amazing, and the creativity in every scene is astounding.  It was especially charming that the people behind the film kept in mind that it is a family film.  While there is some violence, it is an action movie after all, they applied some very interesting effects and theories to use in place of the gore and blood.  I also enjoyed, as weird as this sounds, the brightness of the whole movie.  They didn’t try to make the film a dark tale of gritty origins.  The feel of the story has the same notes of brightness that I remember from the Disney film as a kid, to even Hook in my later years.

And the likenesses do not stop there.  It was very fun, and a bit nostalgic, to catch the references and clues of what’s to come.  You see things that influence the characters to become who we know and love.  And true to the rumors/stories I heard of the background of the beloved Peter Pan tale, Captain Hook and Peter began their time together as friends.  The film sets out to do what it was meant to do… tell the story of how Peter and Captain Hook became who they were.  But, not all is revealed in this film.  When the film is over, and you’ll wish it weren’t, our beloved hero and villain have a long way to go still.  So look forward to more films to come.

The only gripe I had with this movie was the acting.  And just one part in general.  I felt most of the cast was excellent.  Jackman portrayed a great, and zany by the standards of the Paniverse (hoping to coin a new term here people, #paniverse), pirate… czar?!  I know I used overlord, but it’s hard to say what he is other than he is the captain of captains.  Mara played Tiger Lily oh so very well, and Miller held his own right up there with the bigger names.  But it was Hedlund I had issue with.  His portrayal of James Hook was more reminiscent of Jack Nicholson with elongated words, and an almost creepy like vibe.  It’s just not how I imagined him to act, and maybe that is just throwing my perception off.  Though, my feeling and view of the portrayal was echoed by my guest at the screening, so there may be something to it.  Luckily, my negative view of the acting was not enough to pull me out of the experience, and I was still able to enjoy the movie.

Bottom line.  Go see this movie.  Take your kids, your partners, your parents, your grandparents, your cousin’s, aunt’s son/daughter… oh wait.  That’s you.  The point is.  It’s definitely worth seeing.  The 3D effects were nothing ground breaking, but it would still be worth it to see it in 3D.  And this will definitely be in my collection on day 1 of home release.

 

4.5 out of 5 stars

 

Second review by Jennifer Fiduccia

 

The new Warner Brothers movie Pan has only one actor in it whose name I recognize.
Hugh Jackman is cast as Blackbeard in this film. I actually had NO IDEA it was Hugh Jackman, until I looked it up!

The movie tells the story before the story of Peter Pan as we know it.

We flash back in time to where Peter (played by Levi Miller) is left at an orphanage in London.
We then flash forward 12 years and see his relationships with the other children at the orphanage (who seem to be mysteriously disappearing!) and the nuns that run the orphanage.

Peter suspects that the head nun is up to no good, at the least hoarding rations, and at the worst…. Who knows??

Peter and his best friend set out to see what’s really going on in the office of the head-nun, and discover a vast treasure trove of food and supplies and …. GOLD COINS.

The boys then set out to see how exactly how the head nun came to have all the gold coins and where the children are disappearing to, and get a whole lot more adventure than they bargained for.

Peter is whisked away by a flying pirate ship, while his friend jumps to the dubious safety of the orphanage roof.

The remainder of the movie follows Peter on his adventure to a far away fairy land which has been overtaken by Blackbeard and his pirates, enslaving people they capture in mines, digging for fairy dust.

The action never stops in this film, and the effects are great. Some parts of the movie might be a bit frightening for very young children, but my seven year old son said that he wasn’t scared by any of the movie.

His favorite parts were the flying ships and the end where, as he puts it, ‘Peter wins’.

The movie leaves an ending with the possibility of a sequel, which I would go see with no problem.

I really enjoyed this film, and am having a hard time wrapping my brain around the multitude of negative reviews that seem to be out there on it. It wasn’t a movie to me that was “incredible”, but it wasn’t in any way a “bad” movie either……

Maybe folks are looking at it from a viewpoint of strictly how an “adult” would like the movie, whereas I am seeing the excitement in my child’s eyes of seeing a FLYING PIRATE SHIP in 3D.

Better than “ok”, but not in the range of “great”, I would give this movie 3 out of 5 stars.

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