Directed By: Joe Wright

Starring: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara, and Amanda Seyfried

I've said this time and time again.  Getting a release date pushed back is a curse for a film.  The proof is in the product put out by the studio when a film's release date is the hot potato nobody wants.  Seventh Son was a great example of this earlier in the year.  As fate would have it, this Columbus Day weekend offers another film that unfortunately fits this bill with Joe Wright's Pan.  In a little bit of déjà vu, I get the pleasure of once again saying that the Anna Karenina director's latest film is all style and no substance.

As London is being ravaged by explosion after explosion at the height of World War II, a young orphan named Peter Pan is dealing with a very different matter.  Terrorized by a rather callous nun, Peter and his friends find themselves starving without their rations.  This physical torment is nothing compared to his mental anguish as a result of his yearning for the mother he's never known.  This mother just so happens to be a woman named Mary (Amanda Seyfried), and her life is just one part of a truly magical story.  As fate would have it, Peter is about to take center stage in the next chapter of this story.

After getting caught enjoying the rations the heartless nun at his orphanage has been stockpiling for some time now, Peter's night takes a rather fantastical turn.  Kidnapped by pirates riding in a floating ship above the orphanage, Peter is taken to the island of Neverland.  Like all orphans brought to Neverland, he ends up working in the mines in search of Pixie dust for ferocious pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman).  He quickly meets a young man in the mines by the name of James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), and soon starts to connect the dots and realize that he has family ties on Neverland.  His family history and his destiny are on this island and all roads lead to Blackbeard and a woman named Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara).

I don't even have to bash Pan about the whitewashing that's garnered loads of criticism in recent months.  When a movie as horrendous as Pan arrives in theaters (late), it's not worth the energy.  As I mentioned previously, director Joe Wright does what he does best by delivering style over substance.  The visuals are aesthetically pleasing by all means.  The makeup and costume work are both top notch.  These stylistic flourishes are absolutely worthless when nothing lies beneath them.  There's no directorial vision.  There's no heart in this narrative.  There's no established tone or pace.  All in all, Pan lacks the quintessential ingredient of a fantasy film (or any film for that matter) — movie magic.

With everything else out of whack in Pan, it should come as no surprise that the performances go awry.  Let's take Hugh Jackman's performance as Blackbeard for example.  I don't know quite where he lands on the scale of villains because he oscillates between menacing growls and silly grins.  I can tell you with the utmost certainty, however, that he doesn’t land in a good place.  With rushed delivery of what would be considered his meatier lines, he fails to deliver the drama and grandiosity that Blackbeard deserves.  The same can be said for Rooney Mara in her performance as Tiger Lily where she fails to imbue the character with the focus and determination that define her in the source material.  It's safe to say that Garrett Hedlund shows no subtle hints of the vicious pirate to come.  All the while, Levi Miller fails to delight or deliver a spark of charisma as our titular character Peter Pan.  I blame none of this on the actors primarily as the buck stops with Joe Wright whose creative vision is all over the map but not quite in Neverland as it should be.

It's safe to say that Pan lacks the mystery and wonder that it should.  Your best bet of finding these two cinematic miracles is at the bottom of a shot glass.  This is one terrible film for which only mystery shots will do.  Pan gets a wasted rating.  Feel free to miss this one.