Wednesday, February 3, 2016


A couple of months ago a "friend" gave me a copy of Pan, knowing that I really enjoy the Fantasy genre. I never watched it. Kept putting it off. It just didn't really look like something I would be interested in. The mood struck tonight for a Fantasy, but none of the options looked appealing, and by pure accident I found Pan, so I put it on. fifteen minutes in, I'm thinking it's not for me, then I realized Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara and Garrett Hedlund were in it it - would be revealed in later scenes. So I continued. And was I ever glad I did.

Pan tells the story of JM Barrie's Peter Pan before the story of Peter Pan. It's another instance of Hollywood expanding on a classic. It seems proven time and time again that when we read a good story or see a good movie, one where we connect with the characters on a personal level, they somehow come to life. When a good story is told well we make a connection, and naturally we want more, when we are drawn in. We crave it. And although we are taught that a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, some innate human trait makes us want to know what happened before the beginning, and after the end. We can't help the "that's it?" feeling.

The story starts out with a boy in an orphanage (Levi Miller), who is kidnapped by pirates led by Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) and taken to a magical land far away to be enslaved as a miner. The boy discovers his destiny through his hero's journey in the land of Neverland. Along the way he meets a cast of colorful characters including Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) through very interesting settings and encounters.What really makes the film work well is how the story is so different from what you would expect. For example:  when Peter arrives in Neverland, he is brought to a mine where thousands of boys and men (feasibly boys who have been there long enough to grow up) are chanting an eerily familiar verse:  the lyrics to Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. Later there's a reference to The Grateful Dead. It's these kinds of obscure references woven seamlessly into to plot that hook you, no pun intended. Subtle references like these and "Easter Eggs" always make me want more.

The imagery is very surreal, in the literal sense. Kind of like in the film The Lovely Bones; reminiscent of the scenes between heaven and earth. That is, it has a very dreamlike quality - flying ships; a Steampunk sky harbor; floating bubbles of ocean; vanilla sky sunsets with marshmallow clouds - things you would expect to see in a dream, but maybe not in a typical Fantasy movie or TV show like The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. And of course, there's the use of bright, vivid color with explosive contrasts. In some scenes, color literally explodes.

In a general sense, I like to be whisked away when I watch a movie, especially in the Fantasy genre. I like the pace to be steady, the characters to be engaging, special effects to be believable, yet unbelieveable. I want to just let go like I did when I was a kid during story time. Pan allowed me to let go. It made me feel like I was a kid again at story time, with graham crackers and a glass of milk.

I give Pan 8 stars.