Pan is intended to be a prequel to the classic Peter Pan story. It explores the origin of Peter (Levi Miller), and how he, who spent the first twelve years of his life in a London orphanage, first came to Neverland. One night, during a World War 2 air raid, Peter and other orphans are kidnapped by pirates and brought to Neverland to be enslaved in the mines of the ruthless Captain Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). He escapes the mine with the aid of a rogue named James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), and then later meets the warrior-princess Tiger Lilly (Rooney Mara). With the help of his newfound friends, Peter sets himself on the path of embracing his identity and destiny in order to free Neverland from Blackbeard’s tyranny once and for all.
First and foremost, let’s get out of the way the fact that Pan is an all-around horrendous mess of a movie. It’s a gratuitous prequel story with a badly-written and lazy script. It’s overstuffed with CGI. The characters are outlandish but insipid. And the dialogue is silly.
Having a prequel story that has Peter Pan and Captain Hook start off as friends is already madness by itself. But it was only during the part where the pirates broke into a “Smells Like Teen Spirit” song number – I kid you not! – that I understood that this movie was going to be crazier and more ridiculous than I was expecting it to be. Indeed, this movie turned out to be brimming with acid-trip insanity. And I loved it! Pan is extremely crazy and ridiculous that it’s hilarious and entertaining! It succeeds in achieving “so bad, that it’s good” status.
Jackman as Blackbeard and Hedlund as Hook hammed it up delightfully. I don’t know if this was their purpose all along, or it was accidental. Either way, they were so ridiculous that I had a lot of fun watching them on screen. Rooney Mara is a great actress (she was awesome as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and deserves better than this kind of stuff; she was really putting effort in her portrayal of Tiger Lilly. But it actually makes every scene with Tiger Lilly and Hook interesting – with Hedlund being as campy as he can be while Mara plays it straight. There’s something greatly amusing about it.
Again, Pan is an objectively awful movie. Of course, considering that the mythology of Peter Pan is a wonderful piece of fantasy (most past movies and cartoons about it were quite good), l probably prefer if it had been cleverer and more creative, and more thought had been put on it. But turning out as bad as it is, by embracing its campiness and insanity, I still had enjoyment from Pan.