In my campaign review of Pan’s marketing I wrote:
I want to like this but I just don’t feel like the campaign overcomes the burden of knowing, and having to sell, the film as a prequel. So it hits the “This is the chosen one” nail over and over again to the point where, because this is a prequel to a familiar story, we feel like we know exactly how this movie’s story is going to play out.
But that “come see how Peter Pan came to be” is sometimes treated as an afterthought to the emphasis that’s put on selling Jackman’s performance as Blackbeard as well as the overall spectacle of the film. It very much seems at times in the campaign like the story is secondary to the visuals, which isn’t surprising.
That’s very much the case, that the story is often given short shrift in service of the visuals. We’re told over and over again that Peter is the chosen one who will usher the land into a new golden age or whatever but each location shift just seems like an excuse for a new group of people to do so without any evidence or merit to support that claim.
As to the individual performances, Jackman leaps into the role of Blackbeard with everything he has, as is usually the case with him. He give it his all to sell the character as creepy and selfish but also oddly paternal toward both his crew and even Peter but that can’t overcome the way his actions are used as shortcuts for character development.
And unless I missed it, nothing really comes of the relationship between Peter and Hook, which we know is doomed but which here just kind of…is. There’s no real moment here of seeing that turn south and the two become adversaries, which seems like a big missing piece of the story. Were the filmmakers saving that? Because I honestly thought, based on the marketing, that’s what all this was building toward. So the movie isn’t actually about setting that up, it’s just about Peter taking on a group of pirates that we don’t really care about and shoving some familiar characters at us.