Thursday 8 October 2015

Pan ... A flash in the pan

I WATCHED director Joe Wright's Pan a few days after watching The Martian, and the former is an emotional disappointment.
   Both films depend on technological wizardry to dazzle viewers, but whereas the latter delivered big dollops of rah-rah moments, the former falls flat, hoping that a boy's tale of his search for his mum would make viewers weep easily.

   The problem with Pan is that  it depends excessively on special effects to carry the film. Also, the four principal characters don't stand out.
  The world of Neverland, which previously would have swept viewers young and old off their feet, looks like a replica of that seen in Mad Max: Fury Road and Avatar.
   Peter (Levi Miller), abandoned at birth by his mum Mary (Amanda Seyfried) in a children's home in England, is now an inquisitive and rebellious 12 year old, but his journey to fulfil his destiny and his desire to find his mum lack emotional heft.
  Growing up in an orphanage, searching for his mum is the only goal that keeps him going.
  One night, he's kidnapped by pirates in a flying ship, who take him and other orphan boys to Neverland, a huge mine run by the vain and murderous Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) in his never-ending quest to find a mineral that will grant him eternal life.
Peter faces up to a lacklustre film. 
   Blackbeard is not one to be toyed with. His idea of motivating exhausted miners is to drop recalcitrant kid miners to their deaths from unimaginable heights.
   He's worried about a prophecy concerning a kid with flying powers who will kill him.
   As played by Jackman, Blackbeard is, naturally, dressed in black, with a black wig and a circle of black feathers around his neck that make him look like a preening peacock.
   He doesn't care about anyone but himself, although he may have once loved Peter's mum, and he will stop at nothing to get his hands on the mineral.
  Peter's miner in arms is gravelly-voiced Hook (Garrett Hedlund of Tron and On The Road), who accompanies the kid on his exciting journey. They then promptly fall into the world of Avatar, with its tribal people wearing the latest fall/winter make-up colours, especially the courageous Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara).
  The two people of colour in Pan are Blackbeard's black right-hand man and a Chinese trampoline exponent-cum-MMA fighter. Minorities don't make a dent in this fantasy world.
  Throughout Peter's journey, viewers will encounter a procession of characters and environments that seek to leave an indelible impression on them, but viewers won't invest themselves in characters that tail off by the end of the film.
   Peter is burdened by the fact that he has to look for his mum and free people from the clutches of Blackbeard. He can't handle the demands to do both.
   Pan will be panned by viewers.

2½ out of 5 stars

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