11 Cringe-Worthy ‘Pan’ Reviews: Critics Say Never to Neverland

“Pan” is “the most joyless revisionism since Disney’s ‘Lone Ranger,'” says one critic about the “Peter Pan” reboot hitting theaters this Friday

Last Updated: October 12, 2015 @ 9:14 AM

Warner Bros.’ “Pan” is the latest Peter Pan-inspired film to hit the big screen, and although the new film starring Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, Levi Miller and Garrett Hedlund is supposed to offer a new perspective on the story of the boy who never grew up, critics aren’t having it.

Calling it “an elaborate flight of fancy with no vision,” “the most joyless revisionism since Disney’s ‘The Lone Ranger,’ and “a waste,” critics gave the film a 30 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

TheWrap’s film critic Alonso Duralde agreed with the 39 other terrible reviews on Rotten Tomatoes: “‘Pan’ is, for the most part, ugly to look at, shrill to listen to, and performed by actors who have been encouraged to camp it up madly in the style usually favored by aging British sitcom stars playing storybook characters in Christmas panto productions.”

See 11 other reviews about the $150 million production below.

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club:
“It’s hard to make the case that any of this means anything, or is even supposed to, and how much a given viewer gets out of ‘Pan’ is probably proportional to how much they enjoy pure bric-a-brac and the occasional silly sight gag–or, conversely, how much they can stomach nudge-nudge references to Barrie’s source material. At once thinly conceived and maddeningly over-designed, irreverent and over-serious, and chock-full of strained references (to World War II, environmentalism, and drugs, among other things) and creepy violence, ‘Pan’ is an elaborate flight of fancy with no vision–which makes it strangely compelling in spots.”

Tony Hicks, San Jose Mercury News:
“Let’s be honest. A film about a kid abducted by flying pirates — and swept off to a place where fish live in sky bubbles and boys dig fairy dust from a quarry so a guy can keep looking like 1980s-vintage Prince — isn’t supposed to make sense.

That said, ‘Pan’ doesn’t make a lot of sense. But it’s not the story line that’s the problem.

It’s a prequel to a classic, beloved story, and successfully revisiting that world requires something special. That doesn’t happen, even though director Joe Wright probably thought he had a magical formula, with gorgeous scenery and nice music and all the requisite swashbuckling action (too much at times).”

Peter Howell, Toronto Star:
“There’s no law that says you can’t take liberties with a source story, as Steven Spielberg happily demonstrated in ‘Hook,’ the 1991 film that among other things helped introduce Gwyneth Paltrow to an unsuspecting world.

But some kind of narrative clarity would have been nice, something more than the tired ‘Wizard of Oz’ steal about home being “not where you come from, but where you make it.”

After driving us crazy for nearly two hours, ‘Pan’ just peters out.”

Stephanie Merry, Washington Post:
“No amount of CGI can distract from the acting, which comes across as more of an extreme sport than an art form. Jackman bloviates and sneers as if he’s onstage, trying to ensure that every gesture reaches the cheap seats. And Hedlund channels John Wayne, but with less subtlety, as he swaggers and flirts, belaboring every syllable as he drops his pitch by an octave. In counterpoint, Rooney Mara‘s Tiger Lily makes for a warrior princess whose elaborate headdresses are as impressive as her fighting skills.

But what about Peter? Amid all this swirl, the central character doesn’t make much of an impression. The narrator (Amanda Seyfried) tells us that, ‘sometimes, to truly understand how things end, we must first know how they begin.’ ‘Pan’ doesn’t deliver on its own promise. The movie doesn’t so much enhance our understanding of the flying boy as it demonstrates how little thought went into crafting his back story.”

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune:
 “That’s a lot of lousy ideas crammed into the first 30 minutes. The whole movie’s like that. You walk out of ‘Pan’ feeling flattened, and bummed out. Reportedly a $150 million production, it represents a larger strip-mining operation: the pillaging of a durable but not invincible pop culture myth, born in 1902, when J.M. Barrie wrote of an infant version of Peter Pan.
Wright has made good films (‘Atonement’) and mixed-up, crazily theatrical ones (‘Anna Karenina’). With ‘Pan’ he has what I hope will always mark his career low point — the most joyless revisionism since Disney’s ‘The Lone Ranger.'”
 “‘Pan’ evokes no longing for childhood and innocence, has no feeling of magic or transcendence, no beauty, laughter or pain — in short, nothing that you might reasonably expect from a ‘Peter Pan‘ spin-off. But for the moment, let’s put that to the side. Just on its own limited terms, ‘Pan,’ supposedly the story of how Peter got his start, is a complete washout, a joyless, pointless and fundamentally idiotic enterprise.”
Susan Wloszczyna, RogerEbert.com:
 “From the music (the soundtrack employs the anachronistic tunes ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit; and ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ for absolutely no reason, unless pirates are into grunge and punk) to the CGI tricks (to justify the 3-D, we get to follow the trajectory of a falling bomb, watch a floating chicken lay an egg and enjoy a fight conducted on a trampoline), ‘Pan’ is a pandemic of poor choices. And no one is going to clap their hands to save it.”
Gregory Wakeman, CinemaBlend.com:
 “And while Wright does a sterling job making Neverland truly bewitching, the film struggles with its action set pieces, which start impressively and then slowly deteriorate. Its final sequence is so rushed and chaotic that you’re unable to remain invested, and you’ll feel like you’re being flung out of the cinema.

Ultimately, while ‘Pan’ is lackluster, there’s enough spectacle and entertainment in it for the family to shrug with satisfaction at the end. But, come the roll of the credits, you won’t have any enthusiasm to see further adventures from the ensemble. In fact, by the time you’re home you’ll have probably forgotten all about it. A waste.”

Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine:
“Whatever drugs director Joe Wright may or may not have been on when he wrestled ‘Pan’ to the ground, pulverizing the material into a quivering mound of monkey-bread dough, you can trust that they were synthetic. Not a single emotional moment in this entire origin story for J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Neverland feels organic. While that’s not to say there aren’t some occasionally well-engineered effects, it’s just that you have to fight the creeping sense that you’re being jerked around by toxic elements.”

Scott Mendelson, Forbes:
“There are moments in Joe Wright‘s ‘Pan’ that are filled with visual wonder and childlike panache. But it’s a shame that these moments occur in a story of little consequence and little imagination. If the task was to craft a ‘chosen one’ origin story for Peter Pan and make it as assembly-line as possible, then Jason Fuchs’s paint-by-numbers screenplay is a roaring success. It plays like a straight-faced approximation of the ‘you’re special/you’re the chosen one; shtick that ‘The LEGO Movie’ satirized while being filled mostly with characters who are either bland or outwardly obnoxious. It is a triumph of production design and special effects over story and character. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, that was the very definition of a bad movie. In terms of character investment and pathos, it makes Steven Spielberg‘s ‘Hook’ look like ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ or at least P.J. Hogan’s vastly underappreciated ‘Peter Pan.'”

Steve Persall, Tampa Bay Times:
“Coming on the banana-slipping heels of NBC’s ‘Peter Pan Live!’ and ‘Finding Neverland’ on Broadway, ‘Pan’ suggests that Barrie’s fantasy has outlived its usefulness as a mass marketed property. Perhaps it’ll be set aside by producers, left solely to stoke the imaginations of readers. Now there’s a happy thought.”

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