HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Pan 2D
HTS Overall Score:82
“Pan” has had a bit of a rocky road to get to us. Originally accepted in 2013 on a fast track due to the original script by Jason Fuchs, it soon became a bit of a controversial film as it’s casting decisions where lauded as racist and discriminatory. The main reason for this was Director Joe Wright casting the role of Princess Tiger Lily to Rooney Mara, a role that has typically been portrayed as Native American Indian. Social media was in an uproar about the casting choice, claiming that Wright had no idea what he was doing and that his actions put back race relations back to the 1950s (yes there were people actually saying that). Ironically his casting of Mara made no appreciable difference as his portrayal of the “natives” was very untraditional to say the least and wasn’t even remotely relating to your average Native American. Couple this controversy with a lot of script issues and budget issues that turned “Pan” into another “John Carter” and “The Lone Ranger” in terms of snowballing budget. What began as a decently funded film turned in a $250 million behemoth that didn’t even make half of its filming and marketing budget back in its theatrical run.
Color me a bit surprised though when I see “Pan” for the first time and am actually having a good time! The critics tore it apart after it hit theaters, so I naturally stayed away as there were a great amount of superior sounding films at that time. Even though it was pushed back to fall from Summer, there just wasn’t enough word of mouth interest to get me in the theater seats. However, Critics (myself included) are not always right, and while I see their complaints about not being fed the film that we were promised, I ended up liking the whimsical cartoon ride a lot more than I thought I would.
Before there was Wendy. Before there was Hook, before there was Tinkerbell, there was still Neverland. Unfortunately the selfish and spiteful (yet sill loveable) boy named Peter Pan wasn’t there yet either. Instead, Peter (Levi Miller), is living as an Orphan in a besieged WWII era London. His life in the real world isn’t exactly a bed of roses, as he’s at the whim of the cruel head Nun of the orphanage and her selfish desires. Desperate to find out who his parents are, Peter gets into the orphanage records and gets in some rather hot water. However, this is soon to be ended, as boys have turned up missing at night and Peter is next on the list. Captured by pirates in a flying schooner, Peter is whisked away to Neverland where he is put under the thumb of ANOTHER task driver. This time it’s the nefarious captain Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman), who is traveling from Neverland to the real world to capture little orphaned boys and work them to death in his minds searching for Pixum (calcified pixie dust remains from the fairies. A race that he supposedly drove extinct some years ago).
From what we gathered so far, Peter is not exactly one to take things lying down, and soon he teams up with an orphan who has spent many many years mining for Captain Blackbeard named James (Garrett Hedlund) and makes a daring escape (after somehow managing to fly for a few instances). While Captain Blackbeard doesn’t exactly like having prisoners escape, he chases after the duo for a completely different reason. There’s a prophecy on the island (duh, there always is) and it states that a boy shall come to Neverland and that boy shall be able to fly. Not only fly, but rally the natives as well as the fairies behind him and destroy Blackbeard. Naturally Blackbeard has no desire to see that happen and will stop at nothing to capture Peter.
James and Peter are doing their best to get out of there, and fall head long into the clutches of the natives living on the Island (which seem to be a weird mixture of pan Asian, aboriginal and Caucasian tribes blended together to protect the island….which is one of the reasons why having Rooney Mara play the role of Tiger Lily less controversial). While Peter is outed as the prophesied one, he can’t seem to fly again. A feat that will solidify him in the annals of the tribesman and summon forth the fairies to fight by his side. However, this may all be a moot point, as Captain Blackbeard is hot on their tales and with no letting up, the prophecy may die before it’s ever realized.
As I mentioned, “Pan” isn’t exactly the movie that it was advertised to be originally, but it still is a fun little ride. The copious amounts of CGI and over the top acting make it seem almost like a carnival ride of fun, both visually and emotionally. The characters are larger than life and fully of spice, which is both a boon and a detriment to the film. The role of Blackbeard was actually specifically FOR Hugh Jackman, and its plays to his considerable dramatic strengths. Captain Blackbeard is cruel, loathsome and deliciously over the top as he towers above the youths in typical intimidating fashion. The opening scene where he is introduced singing Nirvana’s “Teen Spirit” as a chant shows his true nature as an egomaniac who sees in the youths what he wants to see and refuses to see anything but his own power crazed image in their reflection.
Levi Miller does a solid job as Peter, although sometimes I fear the lines written for him don’t really scratch the surface. Rooney Mara is pleasing enough, though I have to say that as a warrior her skills are certainly lacking as the choreography wasn’t flattering to her at all. Especially as you battled Blackbeard, which is made extremely evident by Hugh Jackman’s skillful use of stage fighting. The real weird one happens to be Garrett Hedlund as the young James T. Hook (Oh, did I not mention his full name before?). Hedlund belts out his lines like Pierce Brosnan trying sing in “Mama Mia” in such a forceful and over the top manner that you’re left scratching your head wondering just WHAT he’s trying to accomplish.
“Pan is a strange tale that feels almost silly at times, but then digs a little bit deeper into the famed story and deals with the nature of growing up and what maturity really is. Is it the act of aging and growing older? Or is it something else. A sense of maturity that may come from age, but not always. Strength from within and the constantly shifting nature of reality and friendships (as is evidenced by the friendship between James Hook and Pan at this stage of the game). There are some very awkward moments throughout the film, but those are overshadowed by the cartoonish nature of the family action movie. The characters are always interesting, and while the plot fails a little bit in the 2nd act, it’s still wildly infectious and charming from beginning to end.
Rated PG for fantasy action violence, language and some thematic material
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=61585[/img]“Pan” is a wild, tasty piece of eye candy that is filled with more colors and shades than one could possibly shake a stick at. Lusciously shot and blended with about a billion moments of CGI glory, “Pan” manages to look terrific as it blends live action cinematography with CGI wizardry and some good old fashioned stylistic techniques. The beginning of the film is a bit desaturated and dry, given that they are imitating World War II era London, but once Peter and the rest of the orphans get to Neverland the colors are rich, vibrant and HEAVILY saturated. Strangely enough, despite some incredibly complex and detailed looking imagery, there is a light softness to the film that seems to be stylistic in nature. Whites are pushed ever so slightly high a little bit of a halo effect around everything. Still, fine detail is excellent, from the ravishing costumes of the natives to the dirty and nasty looking teeth of the filthy pirates. Blacks are deep and inky with only a teensy tinsy bit of black crush in one or two scenes. Digital artifacting is pretty much nonexistent, as WB has given a rather healthy bitrate to the film and it certainly shows.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=61593[/img]Dolby Atmos tracks are becoming more and more common (thankfully) and their presence has brought in a new era of audio mixing where the tracks so far have been impeccable to say the least. “Pan” follows up with a stellar audio track that sound incredible in both its form as well as its Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core. Dialog is crisp, clear and locked up front, and the rest of the track just blends together seamlessly. LFE is tight and punchy, adding a wonderful sense of weight to the track as the flying ships creak and roar with a dull, heavy sounding roar. Canon shots thunder as the ball pass by and the weighty footsteps of the might Blackbeard carry with it a sense of foreboding and power. I will say that I felt the LFE could have been a BIT more weighty at times, but it’s a minor nitpick for sure. While everything mentioned has been top notch so far, I was REALLY impressed with the clarity of the surrounds. They are constantly fed a steady diet of ambient noises, but what makes them stand out more so than other tracks is the incredible amount of clarity and detail coming form. Listen to the little directional sounds that happen as the pirates steal the boys from the orphanage at the beginning of the movie, and if you have an Atmos setup, listen to WHERE the sounds shift to. It’s truly jaw dropping. Cannon fire blasts over your shoulder and shifts from one end of the screen to the other, and the whipping of the wind makes you feel truly in the center of it all. This track was just THIIIIIIIS close to being perfect, and the only thing that kept it from a full 5/5 was that ever so slight lack of LFE during the film. However, still a VERY fine example of an Atmos track.
• Commentary with Director Joe Wright
• Never Grow Up: The Legend of Pan
• The Boy Who Would Be Pan
• The Scoundrels of Neverland
• Wondrous Realms
After the complete and total destruction of “Pan” with the theatrical critics, I was totally expecting a horrible viewing experience and was glad to be proven wrong. The film is infectious and entertaining, although it does suffer from being awkward and overly ambitious at times. The characters are insanely fun to watch on screen, especially Hugh Jackman who just heaps up the overacting to such a wonderfully ludicrous level that you can’t help but love every second of the maniacal pirate. While it isn’t as classic as the Disney animated film, or Robin Williams in “Hook”, “Pan” is a likeable film that is more eye candy than anything else, but complimented with a satisfactory cast and a unique take on a classic tale. Audio and video will stun you as always, and there is some decent extras to go along with the specs. Definitely worth watching.
Starring: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara
Directed by: Joe Wright
Written by: Jason Fuchs, J.M. Barrie
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (7.1 TrueHD core) French, Spanish, Portuguese, English, Mandarin DD 5.1
Runtime: 112 Minutes
Own PAN on Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack or DVD on December 22 or Own It Early on Digital HD on December 15!
Buy Pan 3D Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy Pan 2D Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Check it Out
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