Snarcasm: ‘Pan’ Was Good, No Matter How Much You Hated It

pan review

Snark + Sarcasm = what’s you’re about to read. This week: Why doesn’t anyone think of the children…when reviewing Pan so harshly? 

If you’ve been following the reviews coming out of Pan, the latest Peter Pan adaptation that focuses on the famous character’s origins, then you know that it’s been widely dismissed (no, I’m not using that pun. Or pan?)

I saw the film and reviewed it on the Now Conspiring podcast. In my opinion, it’s the worst adaptation of Peter Pan I’ve ever seen, including the plays. I love the story, especially the 2003 live-action take on it. Like most millennials, I love Hook. Heck, I even like the version we got with Once Upon a Time. 

So I hate to say that for me, Pan is a D minus.

And I’m not alone. The reviews at large have been downright scathing. They’re a fun read for anyone who gets their kicks from sassy critics. Even the positive reviews have been mostly unkind, giving the film only a little credit in spite of itself.

Then there’s Eddie from Nerd Reactor. Let’s talk about his Pan review, starting with the headline:

The only review of ‘Pan’ you’ll ever need to read!

That’s a pretty misleading headline, even by clickbait standards.

But like a good clickbait headline, bad information is there. The promise is that Eddie’s opinion of Pan is the most accurate out of countless critics. And anyone who reads this review, no matter their taste or background, will get the perfect insight into whether or not they should see Pan.

I’m going to guess that this review doesn’t accomplish any of that.

When you’re a child, you see the whole world around you in a new light.

New light? Or just new? You’re a kid, not a disenfranchised restaurant manager with an art degree who sees the Sistine Chapel for the first time.

From sights and sounds to tastes and smells, everything is brand new for you, and you can’t get enough of these new experiences. As you get older, those experiences lose their luster, and you tend to…well, grow up.

If only Pan had focused on even an inkling of this theme. But nope, it’s about a messiah who fulfills a prophecy because his mother’s name is Mary (subtle!)

But then something happens,

…Go on.

and you experience a movie that not only ignites the spark of imagination in your heart and in your spirit but also carries a great story that captivates the young at heart. 

Please be talking about Paddington. Please be talking about Paddington.

That’s what you get with the fantastical journey of pirates, Indians and flying in the movie called Pan.

You can’t tell, but I’m making a really grumpy face right now.

Also, they’re natives in this movie, not Indians. Get your lazy attempts to avoid racism by inexplicably whitewashing the characters straight .

Let’s get something straight,

Yes. This is a good idea…

this is a children’s film

Oh no, not this argument. Look, calling something a children’s film doesn’t excuse everything negative about it. We live in a post-Toy Story world, Eddie. Well, sort of (Toy Story 4 better be good).

And I wouldn’t argue with studio executives about who this movie is intended for. They want Pan to make as much money as possible, and parents don’t want to pay money to sit through a film with their kid that is widely panned (NO, I SAID IT).

This is a film that caters to the moviegoers who tentatively need a booster seat to see over the person in front of them.

Well, that’s just not true. The movie was certainly shooting for a preteen/young adult demographic, what with its special snowflake themes, bland protagonist, and mindless violence. Otherwise, it’s casually ripping off Harry Potter and other YA films by accident, and that’s certainly not the case.

Comparing these films to that of something like say X-Men: Days of Future Past, Hunger Games, or Scorch Trials is just ridiculous and naïve.

Was anyone expecting Pan to be like an X-Men movie? I mean, maybe X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but only in quality and due to the strange coincidence of Hugh Jackman being in another origin movie that probably shouldn’t exist.

How is it naïve to compare movies to other movies? Naiveté comes from a lack of experience, but if you’re comparing movies, then you’re showing that you understand the standard set by the genre. What’s actually naïve is claiming that Pan shouldn’t have to answer for its problems because it’s made for kids.

Sadly, many reviewers of the film are out there stating how it is “slapdash” and “ill-explained” and are forgetting that films like this aren’t made for everyone.

But your review is? That’s what the headline told me.

Look, I know what it’s like to enjoy a movie that other people hate. It happens. But assuming they’re the ones who are naïve is a bit…well, naïve

The target demographic is intended for children, which means that if you’re expecting something more mature, you’re not the target demographic.

No one was expecting a “mature” Peter Pan movie. That’s just silly. Plenty of people weren’t even expecting this movie to exist, and that’s certainly valid.

Personally, I was expecting a few things: good special effects (considering the talent involved), a decent story that set up Peter Pan as the character we know him (considering it’s an origin story for a well-known character), and music that matched the tone of the film.

We didn’t get any of those things. We got Nirvana and the Ramones. We also got some of the worst special effects and CGI of 2015 (especially for a blockbuster), and a movie that completely ignores what makes Peter Pan who he is as a character while playfully exploiting our nostalgia to artificially generate interest for its uninteresting characters.

to bash a film simply because you are not the targeted audience only shows how much of yourself you invested into the film. 

Nope! It just shows that the movie did a bad job at entertaining all audiences. That’s about it. And I don’t think it’s strange to be invested in a classic mythology that we all grew up with.

Ok. I’m done.

Yes. Finally.

Let’s get  to the review.

Grumpy face

Pan is a film that recounts the origin tale of J.M. Barrie’s classic storybook character, Peter Pan, and how he surpasses all obstacles including being an orphan, self-doubt, and the jaws of a massive crocodile, to finally realizing that it isn’t what other people say that makes you special, but what you believe about yourself.

Hmmm, I don’t recall that EVER being a theme in a Peter Pan story. In fact, he’s typically a villain. Wendy is the true protagonist in these stories, and she is typically the moral center who convinces the amoral Peter Pan to commit acts of heroism.

And sorry, but this “you’re special because you believe in yourself” drivel is way too played out to take seriously. It’s not compelling, it’s overdone. It’s not a good message because it reinforces the idea that what you decide to do is good because you decide it is, which is typically the precursor to a terrible decision you’re about to make.

You know what’s a good message for kids? It’s OK to be sad (Inside Out). Your family is what you make of it (Paddington). Don’t get eaten by dinosaurs (Jurassic World).

Pan chronicles the journey of Peter (Levi Miller) as an orphan, being left on the doorstep by a mysterious blonde who leaves a note,

Wait, so it’s worth noting that Peter is played by Levi Miller, a newcomer, but you won’t mention that his mother is played by Amanda Seyfried?

In the midst of war,

No need to be exact. It’s just the most significant war in recent memory, perhaps of all time.

Peter must realize his destiny and find that the true power of who he is.

…is? Does this sentence just end? Who is his power???

The film carries many great attributes

How do you carry an attribute?

starting with its ability to create a cast

How do you create a cast? Or read this? OK, I’m done with petty grammar stuff.

that builds a great story with their dialogue.

….alright, now I’m done.

Actor Levi Miller did an outstanding performance as Peter,

Really? Outstanding? You’re going to burst a vein, then, when you see Jacob Tremblay in The Room, or Abraham Attah in Beasts of No Nation.

His portrayal of a 12-13 year old boy is spot on, as most boys at this age aren’t sure of what they want, or which direction they’re going to go.

OK, I have to give Eddie credit for finding a way to explain why Levi Miller’s character is so bland in a way that sounds like a compliment. You’ll go far.

His acting ability surpasses many of other actors much older than him,

How? As in, “how did you arrive at this opinion?” Also, “how are we supposed to take this entire review seriously?”

as he is able to show the full spectrum of emotions while still being in control of the scene.

Anyone can show a full spectrum of emotions thanks to Sesame Street and puberty. What makes an actor great is when he can make those emotions come across as believable, like it’s really happening and you don’t have to think about it. Controlling a scene is a different job altogether because it’s about presence and timing.

Eddie goes on to compliment Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard, and I’ll give him a pass on all that. Jackman certainly isn’t the worst thing about this movie, and I can understand a fan being charmed by his character.

Rooney Mara and Garrett Hedlund both are a great support for the main character for this film

Yeah, since Mara doesn’t show up until the second act and Hedlund spends most of his time acting like Han Solo, looking like Indiana Jones, and talking like Nicholas Cage on an “All That” sketch — while sort of following Peter around. The support is real.

There was much debate as to the casting of Mara in the role as Tiger Lily.

Please…let’s not go there. Eddie, I’m begging you.

The one thing that many people overlooked was what type of tribe was Tiger Lily from?

Uh. I mean, uh?

what if the tribe wasn’t a specific type of ethnicity, but a tribe of many ethnicities? The tribe that Tiger Lily belonged to in the film was filled with individuals from China, India, Europe, Africa, and etc!

Right! With a European-looking woman as their leader! Surely that won’t offend anyone.

To be honest, I don’t think this is a big deal. I went into Pan knowing that this would be odd, and it didn’t bother me as much as I thought I would. But that’s probably because everything about this movie is so bad, whitewashing ends up being one of the least of its problems.

The visuals in the film were very captivating.

Yeah, in a way. In the, “how does Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed look better than this?” way.

The visual effects team spared no expense

That’s part of the whole “flop” problem.

and took the time to creating breathtaking mermaids who assist in getting Peter and his team to the other side of the river.

Took their time? Cara Delevingne plays all four mermaids. And they’re only onscreen for about two minutes. And they don’t say anything. And they look fake. And they only help Peter while Hook and Tiger Lily watch…

Overall, the film was exactly what it set out to be: a great children’s film, retelling the courageous tale of the boy who never grew up.

…in a version of Neverland where everyone grows up (the main plot is that Blackbeard is aging and wants to keep himself young, which shouldn’t even be a problem in a place like Neverland).

And understand one thing: I’m not saying that other websites and reviewers are wrong,

But you are.

I’m only saying that some are forgetting the one key thing about this film: it was made for children.

So it’s telling that they don’t even want to subject their kids to this.

I’ll just say this one more time for emphasis: a movie made for children doesn’t have to be bad. Even if kids like it, that doesn’t make it good. It just makes Pan an expensive babysitter.

going in to see the film, I recognized right away where all the children were sitting, so that I could get a chance to see their faces when they saw incredible things in the theater.

I don’t think I’m qualified to comment on this.

I spent about as much time watching the film as I did seeing the reactions, and it was not without reward.

So you admit you only saw half of the movie?

The look of sheer excitement as the ships were fighting in mid-air, the shining ear-to-ear smiles from seeing fairies,

They were impressed by those floating CGI lens flares without any sort of physical form? I mean, I was sort of impressed when Peter used them as a Kamehameha, but only because it’s incredible how much source material they managed to rip off in under two hours.

I sat next to a small girl named Layla, and she was so excited after the film, that she got up, turned to her mom after the movie, and with a big smile on her face, asked, “Was this a story, mom? Can we go find it?” Many kids arose from their seats, jittering with elation, unaware of the world outside the theater, and the homes they will be going back to. This film gave them a piece of hope, even if it was just for about two hours. That’s why Pan was made. Giving bravery and courage back to our children, and seeing that even though the world is big and sometimes scary, we each hold the power to be greater than it, and in the end, overcome it.

Seriously, guy, this isn’t Shawshank Redemption. Are we really supposed to take this anecdote about how strangely attentive Eddie is to other people’s children as verification that a bad movie can be good because Layla wants to know if it’s a story?

Pan is a terrible movie. It just is. But like most terrible movies, it will find its audience, no matter how small. So if you love Pan, that’s totally fine and I’m glad that you left the theater feeling like you got your money’s worth.

But don’t try to tell everyone else in the most condescending way possible that they did get their money’s worth because it lightly entertained a bunch of kids that you were paying (probably) too much attention. Our standard for all films, no matter the genre, needs to be much higher than that.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

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13 thoughts

  1. “I’m only saying that some are forgetting the one key thing about this film: it was made for children.”

    “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” was made for 12-and-under-year-old girls. 18 – 35 year old guys and gals are obsessed with the show. I doubt the show would’ve lasted 5 seasons and 109 episodes if bronies and pegasisters didn’t watch the show and buy its merchandise.

    Disney and Pixar also do a good job of keeping adults entertained during “kid’s” movies. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to aim a movie at kids, but what I am saying is good stuff is good stuff regardless of target audience. From Jon’s review, it sounds like “Pan” doesn’t do that great of a job at even keeping its target audience of “preteen/young adult[s]” entertained.

    Walt Disney probably sums what I’m trying to say up the best: “You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.”

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  2. I did not hate it as I took it for what it was and it did not try to be more. In light of that it flowed well and seemingly went by so fast. On a different note, I nominated you for an award 🙂

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  3. See I enjoyed the film and agreed that the film producers/makers did made the movie for the wrong target audience which is why it did so badly, but I still appreciated the movie for what it was, which was a children’s film. Also… loved the comment about Hook and Indiana Jones

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  4. I won’t lie I enjoy this new segment on your website but why spend your time crtiizing others ? I think your giving them more attention than they deserve. If he thought pan was great fine let him think that , I met people who love transformers 2 and in my opinion that movie is terrible. But it’s their opinion and they can say and write what ever they feel like.

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    1. I agree completely. If his article was, “I like Pan and here’s why,” I’d leave it alone. But I felt compelled to say something because his article is actually, “My opinion of Pan is the only one that’s right, and here’s why.”

      But getting to the heart of it, Snarcasm for the sake of the people who write the articles I call out, not just for the enjoyment of readers. Too many articles are being spread around without any sort of true editing or critique (mine included). So Snarcasm is my way of calling out the articles that need a good talking to.

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  5. I honestly didn’t like the movie, but Hugh Jackman was great… I mean… picture Wolverine, and picture Blackbeard, they’re so different characters, but Jackman can perfectly play both of them. He’s awesome. By the way, am I the only one who’s angry because Tinker Bell wasn’t on the movie? After so many bad movies about her, I was expecting a new adaptation.

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    1. Umm…Tinkerbell was in the movie. That little fairy that flies up to Peter when he and Tiger Lily are tied up on Blackbeards boat? As he’s talking to her, Peter mentions in passing that her name is Tinkerbell. Are you sure you were watching the right movie?

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