Pan | Film review - Peter Pan gets a Steampunk makeover in Joe Wright's boisterous prequel

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(Image credit: Laurie Sparham)

Peter Pan gets a Steampunk makeover with Pan, a boisterous but often bewildering prequel that starts off by plonking JM Barrie’s dashing young hero (Levi Miller) in a grim orphanage in Blitz-era 1940 Lambeth and then has him kidnapped by pirates and whooshed in a flying ship to Neverland.

There he enjoys a series of scrapes and adventures involving Hugh Jackman’s ruthless pirate leader Blackbeard, Rooney Mara’s tribal princess Tiger Lily and the young James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), here bearing a full complement of limbs.

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(Image credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture)

Joe Wright, making quite the strangest of his literary adaptations to date following Pride & Prejudice, Atonement and Anna Karenina, directs with rambunctious vigour. An airborne pirate galleon dogfights darting WWII Spitfires in the night skies over London, Neverland’s captives let rip with a raucous chorus of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and Jackman’s preening buccaneer goes gleefully over the top, pulling off the feat of being both foppish and scary.

But the story is clunky and too many of its details jar with Barrie’s original. Didn't Captain Hook go to Eton? How come he's suddenly become an American cowboy? And given that he still has both hands, why on earth is he already called Hook?

Certificate PG. Runtime 111 mins. Director Joe Wright

Pan is available on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.