Pan is a beautifully appointed mess. As a moving piece of art, and even as a concept to a degree, it is a wonderful approach to a classic. For these aspects, it has some value.
The problem is that script and plot don’t really hold together well and f/x took over the focus, leaving the story to flounder. Odd choices like including group sings of Smells Like Team Spirit and Blitzkrieg Bop are testament to the level of confused choices by Joe Wright (Anna Karenina, Hanna), a director I tend to enjoy due to his skewed approach to stories. I don’t know where it all went wrong in this case. Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift) script was likely part of the problem, but so many aspects could have taken it off track that speculation from the outside is just guessing; but that won’t keep me from trying.
The cast is a solid collection of folks, all working full-out to very little effect and ill-served by Wright who didn’t keep them corralled and with a similar approach. Top-lining is Hugh Jackman (Chappie), chewing up the screen as a pirate. His motivations are interesting, but not exactly logical in the end. Despite that, he certainly commits. Garret Hedlund (Tron: Legacy), on the other hand, does well, but only as an imitation of Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones… all he needed was a bullwhip. Rooney Mara (Side Effects) probably had the most nuanced character in the cast. She plays a strong warrior, but only in service to the men of the film, which was a shame as she could have been a nice role model. Adeel Akhtar (River) was a great example of the duality of this film. Akhtar played Smiegle so broadly as to be a cartoon… but the world around him, while fantastical, wasn’t being played the same so he stuck out poorly.
What is clear is how much of the film was conceived to take advantage of 3D. It is a rich world in depth. Again, whether it was this distraction that allowed the rest to fall apart or if other behind-the-scenes debates caused a series of bad decisions, I don’t know. But the result is a lousy movie that probably deserves some nominations for its production design. If pretty pictures aren’t enough for you, don’t waste your time.