Directed by Joe Wright
Starring Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, Garrett Hedlund, Amanda Seyfried, Adeel Akhtar, Kathy Burke and Levi Miller
In UK Cinemas October 16th, 2015

by Amanda Farley

‘All children, except one, grow up’, six little words that first introduced Peter Pan to the world in 1904. It was a love affair destined to endure. J.M. Barrie had created a hero that spoke directly to our imagination, with Peter anything was possible.

Pan, directed by Joe Wright, is the latest adaption to hit cinema screens. A prequel to Barrie’s stories, it transports Peter (Levi Miller) to an Oliver Twist style orphanage in the middle of Blitz ravaged London. Here we see 12 year old Peter fighting against the tyranny of Irish nun, Mother Barnabas (Kathy Burke). As boys begin to disappear, Peter is sure a sinister force is behind the empty beds. It’s not long until he discovers Mother Barnabas has been selling orphans to the Neverland Pirates, who use them as slaves in their elaborate mining operation.

When Peter is also kidnapped, he learns that Neverland might actually be the home he has always wanted. As he navigates blood thirsty pirates, fierce natives and unknown magic, it becomes obvious he is the hero everyone has been waiting for, the child who can liberate Neverland and defeat the notoriously evil pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). With help from James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) Peter quickly discovers that he can be extraordinary.

Wright’s world feels influenced by the work of Roald Dahl and Charles Dickens. The greyness of the orphanage contrasts brilliantly with the colour and vibrancy of Neverland. The island springs to life in a vibrant rainbow of colour which contrasts delectably with the story’s dark undertones. Neverland feels dangerous, beauty and death forever linked together. Skeleton birds dazzle with their multicolour plumage and the island’s tribe of fierce warriors die in clouds of bright colours.

Visually this film is a joyful explosion. John Powell’s score compliments Wright’s vision. He mixes moments of dramatic emotion with hypnotic tribal rhythm to create an experience that delights the senses. A particular highlight is the pirate rendition of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. While the film doesn’t wow, it certainly entertains. Levi Miller is excellent as Peter and Hugh Jackman clearly relishes his role as the notorious Blackbeard. Criticised for its lack of diverse casting, Wright could have done more. This film would have been a perfect opportunity.

All in all, while Jason Fuchs’s script might not live up to the wonders of Barrie’s, it still is enjoyable. For an autumn escape, it will provide a welcome getaway.

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