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A BELATED REVIEW OF PAN

year: 2015
A sort of PETER POTTER AND THE NEFARIOUS ORPHANAGE, with an impressive big budget fantastical aesthetic and evil nuns who run the place like hell as we're taken back to dark, ominous air raid England during World War II with our main character, a young urchin named Peter who, starting out, is normal as can be... just more curious than the other kids, all basically prisoners.

During the buildup at the orphanage, there's a mysterious fleshing-out of character and location, followed with a gust of special effects catapulted by a flying pirate ship, which looks pretty darn cool. Then something happens that epitomizes "Jumping the Shark"...

But first off, let's note that Hugh Jackman, the heartthrob actor hired to fill theater seats, is almost unrecognizable, resembling a cross between Max von Sydow's FLASH GORDON heavy Ming the Merciless and the legendary vampire Nosferatu. Any "shallow" Hugh fans will be more into Garrett Hedlund's dashing Hook, who helps set Peter free within this immense exterior purgatory called, you got it, Neverland.

Good song in a "stupid and contagious" scene
Now back to what almost ruins the entire picture: occurring as soon as Jackman's Blackbeard first shows himself to the mass of followers aboard and below his ship while all singing the lyrics to Nirvana's grunge anthem "Smells Like Teen Spirit"... no joke, this really happens... killing the legitimacy of the previous scene's 1940's vibe while thwarting any notion we're now in a far away place with rules and culture all its own (The Ramones are also included on the bizarre set-list).

If you can survive modern rock lyrics replacing a deeper monologue that would/could have cemented Blackbeard as a more worthy antagonistic presence, the movie does improve as Peter, aided by the young handsome Hook along with Rooney Mara's lovely ingenue Tiger Lily and comic relief Smiegel, realizes he, as a possibly legitimate Pan, has the (initially clumsy) gift of flight: and might be the "chosen one" to defeat our villain, who's simply not around enough to matter.

Just like the innocent little boy turned gallantly romantic if slightly bratty teenage Anikan Skywalker from the STAR WARS prequels didn't work to logically morph a present hero into a future tyrant, the cool, suave and helpful Han Solo style Hook is much too likable for his inevitably wicked (unseen) turnout: Making the entire PAN experience rely on merely starting a franchise ball rolling that, as a vehicle on its own, gathers more moss than potential for any sort of continuation. But still, the movie does flow, exceeding Steven Spielberg's HOOK by leaps and bounds: In fact, Dustin Hoffman singing, say, a GUNS N' ROSES tune, might have actually helped that turkey.

RATING: **1/2
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