Out of the f lying Pan
Director: Joe Wright (Atonement) Starring: Hugh Jackman, Levi Miller, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara, Amanda Seyfried
IT wasn’t as if any section of the general public wished they knew what Peter Pan was doing before author J.M. Barrie dreamt him up as the eternally youthful flying mascot of Neverland.
Therefore Pan’s newly imagined take on Peter’s early days rarely achieves lift-off, forever anchored by its own irrelevance.
In short, the beloved Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up gets slapped with an Origin Story That Doesn’t Stack Up. It must be said, however, Pan does take a while to show its (pronounced lack of) true colours.
A deceptively vibrant opening act promises a youthful hero who will be well worth cheering for against all odds.
When we first meet Peter (an assured lead debut from young Australian actor Levi Miller), he is just another orphan doing it tough in WWII-era London.
Then all of a sudden, Peter and his fellow urchins are audaciously abducted as they sleep.
By the time the captive kids are wide awake, they realise they are now aboard a flying pirate ship heading out of the British capital at a blazing rate of knots. To further up the stakes, the Allies and the Germans are also conducting a ferocious aerial firefight all around them.
The architect of this mass theft of orphans? That would be the dreaded pirate Blackbeard (a hammy Hugh Jackman, not his best work).
He’s head honcho of Neverland, where the population work as slaves to mine a mystery substance keeping the centuries-old Blackbeard looking fighting fit and fortysomething.
Blackbeard and his minions also love a mass singalong to their favourite tracks by Nirvana and The Ramones. Why? Can’t exactly tell you. Neither can the makers of Pan. Fun while it lasts, though.
And all fun soon disappears once little Pete buddies up with a nice bloke named Hook (yes, he’s that Hook, but no, he’s not yet the villain he will one day become) and the pair go on the run from Blackbeard and assorted blaggards.
From here, Pan shrinks rapidly down to a dull chase pic, punctuated by lavish fantasy interludes that merely compound the boredom.
A sub-plot looking to slide a little romance into the mix between Hook and an alarmingly nondescript Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) is a total bust.
So too is the final act’s failed push to re-position Peter Pan as a hard-nut Harry Potter type worthy of further franchised adventures.