The film starts off with Peter being abandoned at an orphanage as a baby, before moving forward twelve years to the London blitz, where Peter (Levi Miller) and his BFF, Nibs (Lewis MacDougal) are concerned about the strange disappearance of boys in the middle of the night. Trying to find answers, they break into the head nun's (Kathy Burke) office. Hidden away, they find a stash of chocolate and gold coins, and, more importantly to Peter, a letter from his mother. Unable to fit all the parts of the jigsaw together, they return to their dormitory only to be whisked away by bungee jumping pirates, for a night flight to Neverland.
The majority of people have grown up with the 1953 Walt Disney version of Peter Pan, with its vivid colors and the child friendly animation, but if you imagined that Pan was of the same ilk, you've got a shock in store. Once in Neverland, we are greeted with a scene of child slavery, though the kids, in fairness, do not look to unhappy and are belting out a chorus of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. Here we meet the villain of the piece, Blackbeard, played by Huge Jackman. He is dressed to the nines, and, as a side note, would not look out of place in a 1970's Bowie video. He rules the mines with an iron fist and bribery. Any boy finding some pixum (crystalized pixie dust), would receive some (yep, you guessed it) chocolate. Peter and Blackbeard instantly become enemies, but Peter does have a couple of allies, James Hook (Garratt Hedlund) and Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), to counter the many pirates Blackbeard has at his disposal.
A film set in a wondrous fantasy world does rely on the use of CGI, some would try and make this fantasy somewhat realistic but Wright takes it in the other direction. Pan is visually superb with large explosions of color, flying galleons and unbelievable action scenes that the kids will be enthralled with, giving them the edge of your seat excitement even if they maybe looking through their fingers at times. Unfortunately, their parents may not be quite as enthusiastic.
Levi Miller can hold his head up high, even if I found his accent a little annoying. The bigger names were a little flat. Mara really didn't look the part of an Indian princess. She was accomplished and looked comfortable in her role especially kicking pirate ass. On the other hand, Jackman was more like a pirate from a Christmas pantomime rather than a child stealing cut throat, albeit one that was having fun and twisting his mustache like Dick Dastardly at every opportunity. However, he was more palatable than Garratt Hedlund who was more like a second rate Indiana Jones than the man that would go on to be Peter's nemesis, Hook.
Sadly the big problem with Pan is it's a little up and down. When it is good it is good, but it just seems to run out of gas only to find another spring in its step and move on once again, but never really filling its full potential. Geared for pre-teens, the movie should be fairly well received by those it is aimed at. Others may walk away feeling a little bit deflated.