Adventure Blu-ray Review

'Pan' Blu-ray Review: A high-flying adventure, but this origin story needs more fairy dust

December 22, 2015Ben MK

Hollywood's tradition of reimagining classic stories and retelling them anew continues with director Joe Wright and screenwriter Jason Fuch's Pan, a film that follows in the footsteps of movies like Oz the Great and Powerful and Maleficent, serving as a precursor to author J.M. Barrie's beloved 1911 novel, "Peter and Wendy."

The second live-action adaptation of the Peter Pan story to hit the big screen since Steven Spielberg's Hook, Pan follows the journey of 12-year-old Peter (newcomer Levi Miller), an orphan in 1938 London who suddenly finds himself transported to an otherworldly realm known as Neverland. Snatched from his bed and brought aboard the flying pirate ship the Jolly Roger, Peter is forced to join the thousands of other boys kidnapped by the nefarious pirate Blackbeard (a bald and moustached Hugh Jackman), who's been amassing an army of abductees to toil in his Pixum — a.k.a. fairy dust — mine.

All is not lost, however, for Peter soon finds a like-minded compatriot in fellow miner James Hook (Garrett Hedlund, playing a pre-villain version of the infamous Captain Hook), and before long the two are staging a daring escape. After hijacking one of Blackbeard's ships, they set a course for the Neverwood forest. There, Peter meets the fierce warrior Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and must prove his powers of flight to the island's natives, all before fulfilling his true destiny as the savior of Neverland and leading the charge against Blackbeard, who will stop at nothing until he has claimed every grain of Pixum for his own.

Visually, Pan proves to be a wondrously enthralling experience, brimming with colorful production design, engaging action sequences and eccentric-looking characters. At its core, however, there's something fundamentally amiss with this retelling, for this is an origin story that creates more questions than it answers. Take, for example, the film's use of a couple of modern-era rock songs, which is done without rhyme or reason and simply feels out-of-step with the rest of the production. In short, Pan has all the makings of a captivating fantasy-adventure. The problem is that it just doesn't capture the spirit or the magic of Peter Pan.

A story told through three distinct color palettes, Pan's wartime London sequences are bathed in bluish hues; its Pixum mine sequences take on the sand-swept feel of a Western; and scenes set amid the Neverwood forest burst with multicolored shades of green, purple, yellow and red. Throughout it all, black levels and contrast remain rock-steady. Sharpness, on the other hand, starts out somewhat lacking, but seems to gradually improve as the film progresses. As for the movie's Dolby TrueHD 7.1 sound mix, it's an undeniably rousing affair. Yet, as great as both the dialogue and music sound, where the track really shines is in how it engrosses viewers in such sounds as the fluttering of fairy wings, roaring WWII plane engines and throngs of voices chanting in verse.

Warner's two-disc 2D Blu-ray combo pack (also available as a three-disc 3D Blu-ray release) includes an UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Director's Commentary - In this somewhat slow-paced track, director Joe Wright discusses audience expectations, the film's visuals, its production and costume design, the actors' performances, the stunt work and more.
  • Never Grow Up: The Legend of Pan (10:50) - A piece about author J.M. Barrie's original creation, from his first appearance in Barrie's 1902 novel, "The Little White Bird," to how Peter's backstory has been expanded upon for this new live-action version.
  • The Boy Who Would Be Pan (6:07) - A featurette focusing on the character of Peter Pan and newcomer Levi Miller's portrayal of him.
  • The Scoundrels of Neverland (5:49) - A look at the movie's villains and the actors who portray them, from "the original nightmare" Blackbeard to secondary characters like Bishop, Steps and Lofty.
  • Wonderous Realms (5:01) - A tour of the various Neverland locales featured in the film, from Blackbeard's mines and his primary ship, The Queen Anne's Revenge, to the Neverwood forest, the native village, Mermaid Lagoon and the fairy kingdom.

Pan is available from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment as of December 22nd, 2015. The Blu-ray features English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 51 Mins.

You May Also Like